Domestic Violence Attorney
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWYER: HOUSTON & GALVESTON, TX
Overview of Domestic Violence Charges in Texas
In Texas, domestic violence charges can lead to higher penalties than similar charges against non-family members. These charges can also impact an individual’s bail and bond conditions by placing additional restrictions on the accused, such as prohibiting possession of a firearm or GPS tracking with the idea of protecting the victim(s). Most importantly, the outcome of a domestic or family violence charge can have lifelong consequences.
This article will provide an overview of domestic violence charges, so that if you or someone you love has been charged with this offense, you’ll better understand potential outcomes and why you need a domestic violence attorney in Houston, Texas.
What is Considered Domestic Violence (Also Called Family Violence) in Texas?
In Texas, family violence is defined as an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself. Family and household members include current or former spouses, parents of the same child, foster children and parents, relatives by blood, marriage, or adoption, current or former co-residents (including roommates regardless of gender), and current or former dating or romantic partners.
Individuals can be charged with several types of domestic violence crimes. These include domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family.
How common are Domestic Violence Charges in Texas?
In 2020, the number of incidents of family violence in Texas was 213,875. These incidents involved 231,029 victims and 224,792 offenders. The vast majority of these were charged as simple assaults at 71.8% and aggravated assaults at 13.9%.
What are the Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges in Texas?
Typically, domestic assault is a Class C misdemeanor in Texas punishable by a fine of up to $500, unless the victim suffers bodily injury, then the offense rises to a Class A misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. However, these domestic assaults can rise to a Third-Degree felony if the accused has any prior domestic assault convictions or if the offense involved strangulation or suffocation. In that case, the offense carries a 2 to 10-year prison sentence with a fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravated domestic assault in Texas is a Second-Degree felony that has a potential sentence of 2 to 20-years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. However, if an individual is charged with aggravated domestic assault when the assault causes serious bodily injury or involves the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon, then the individual can be charged in the First-Degree meaning the accused faces 5 to 99-years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Finally, an individual may be charged with continuous violence against the family if they commit two or more domestic assaults within a 12-month period. An individual could be charged with this crime even without proving the prior assaults resulted in arrest or conviction and even if the assaults had different victims. This charge is a Third-Degree felony which carries a potential 2 to 10-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $10,000.
What is the Range of Punishment for Domestic Violence in Texas?
Domestic violence charges can range from Class C misdemeanors to First-Degree felonies, meaning the range of punishment runs from a fine of up to $500 or a prison sentence of up to 99 years or life in prison. Additionally, if domestic violence leads to a family or household members’ death, the penalty can be even harsher.
How Can a Domestic Violence (Family Violence) Conviction Affect my Gun Rights?
A conviction for an offense involving an element of force or threatened force against a family member, even a low-level fine-only offense, can result in a lifetime prohibition on lawfully purchasing, possessing, and transferring firearms and ammunition. In other words, a traffic-ticket-level domestic violence conviction can cause you to lose your gun rights! That is why it is crucial you consult an attorney who understands all of the collateral consequences of a domestic violence charge in Texas.
What are the Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges in Texas?
Defense strategies can include attacking the prosecutor’s case-in-chief by arguing that the prosecution lacks proof to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be done by proving a lack of evidence or contradictory evidence, which often exists in cases of false allegations made by a victim. In some jurisdictions, a victim may provide the prosecution with an affidavit for non-prosecution; however, these are not always considered because some district attorneys’ offices see these as coercive.
Alternatively, a defendant could plead an affirmative defense, admitting the conduct, and providing a legal justification. In cases of domestic violence charges, consent and self-defense may be appropriate defenses depending on the circumstances.
Justification excluding criminal responsibility (self-defense)
In Texas, an individual can be justified in using force and deadly force to defend themselves and others, even in cases involving family or household members. If these defenses are successful, a defendant is absolved of criminal liability relating to an offense. A person is justified in using force against another as they reasonably believe it is immediately necessary to protect themselves or others against the use or attempted use of unlawful force. However, to be justified in using deadly force, an individual must reasonably believe that deadly force is immediately necessary to protect themselves or others from the use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force, or to prevent the imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.
Some situations create a legal presumption that the use of force or deadly force is necessary. However, there are also enumerated activities that dictate situations where force is not appropriate such as in response to verbal provocation alone, when you’ve consented to or provoked the force, or when you’ve approached someone to discuss differences while armed in violation of Texas Penal Code Section 46.02 or Section 46.05.
How do you Beat Domestic Violence Charges in Texas – Hire a Domestic Violence Attorney in Houston, TX Today
Consult with a domestic violence attorney right away. Domestic violence charges can have dire consequences that can impact your life, livelihood, and freedom. The attorneys at Walker & Taylor will provide experienced legal representation to help fight the charges. Contact the firm for a free case evaluation by calling (281) 668-9957 today!
What Deferred Adjudications can I get an Expunction?
If the offense for which you were arrested is a Class C misdemeanor or an Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon offense that occurred before September 1, 2019, then you may qualify for an expunction upon successful completion of deferred adjudication. However, Class B or A misdemeanors and felonies typically do not qualify for an expunction, even if the result of the case is deferred adjudication.
How do you get an Expunction or Nondisclosure in Texas – Hire an Expunction Lawyer in Houston, TX Today
Consult with an expunction lawyer right away. As you can tell, getting an expunction from your record can significantly improve your life by opening up more opportunities for you. The attorneys at Walker & Taylor will provide experienced legal representation to help you get an expunction. Contact the firm for a free case evaluation by calling (281) 668-9957 today!
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