Don't do this in Harris County, Homer

Prosecutions For Choking Family Members Go Way Up

Harris County District Attorney Patricia Lykos has issued a year-end report totaling up work done by her office in 2009.

It shows things are getting busier over there, but one chart in particular stands out.

Listing the top 10 felony dispositions for 2008 and 2009 reveals two largely similar list. Except for one thing: "Assault -- Bodily Injury -- Family Member" was the second-most felony disposed of in 2009; it didn't even crack the top 10 the year before.

DA spokeswoman Donna Hawkins says the change can be attributed, at least in part, to a change in the law that took effect September 1, 2009.

At that point choking a family member -- which is defined to also include someone you're dating or living with -- became a third-degree felony. Prior to that it was a misdemeanor, unless significant injuries were involved, in which case it became an aggravated assault.

In the four months the change was in effect in 2009, Hawkins says, 237 such cases were filed.

In the first six months of 2010, the numbers have jumped higher -- almost 700 felony cases were filed by the DAs office for choking a family member.

Something to remember the next time you get in an argument with a significant other.

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