By: Mark Diaz
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How Texas Classifies Domestic Violence And Family Violence
Domestic violence and family violence deal with illegal physical abuse. However, there are several ways this abuse occurs under Texas law. If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is essential to understand how the state prosecutes this serious crime. If you have not hired an attorney, the Chambers County domestic violence lawyers at Mark Diaz & Associates can help you.
Domestic Violence Overview In Texas
Domestic violence affects all demographics in Texas. Government data shows domestic violence occurs in all races and family types at all income levels. The perpetrators and victims of domestic violence are often younger, but people in every age group are affected.
Many believe that most domestic violence cases involve spouses. Not true. Many of these cases include spouses, but that is only about 45% of the alleged incidents. So, non-marital domestic violence comprises the majority of the cases. It is estimated that 15% of domestic violence cases involve parents and children. The rest occur between roommates, in-laws, and other family members.
Most domestic violence perpetrators are between 20 and 20, and the next most-likely age group is between 25 and 29. However, there are sometimes offenders that are age 70 or older. Most domestic violence victims are also between 20 and 24.
Family Violence And Domestic Violence Charges In Texas
There are three kinds of family violence and domestic violence crimes in Texas. They are domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family. Here are the details:
An assault crime is considered domestic assault if it is done against people from certain types of relationships in Texas. They are:
- A former or current dating partner
- A former or current spouse
- A member of your household
- Foster child or foster parent
- Blood relative or related by adoption or marriage
Texas law states that domestic assault consists of these acts:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to someone
- Intentionally or knowingly threatening someone with serious bodily harm or causing physical contact with someone that you knew is offensive or provocative
Aggravated Domestic Assault
Aggravated domestic assault involves causing severe bodily injury, or a deadly weapon is used while committing an assault or threat. Serious bodily injury includes significant head trauma, limb loss, fractures, or another injury that needs hospitalization or surgery. A deadly weapon under the law means an object that can cause serious bodily harm or death.
Continuous Violence Against The Family
You can be charged with this crime if you have committed two domestic assaults in the past 12 months. The act does not need to have led to arrest or conviction. The crimes also do not have to be committed against the same person. This offense is a third-degree felony and you could face two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
What Are The Penalties For Domestic Violence In Texas?
If you are a first-time domestic violence offender, it is a class A misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. If you are a repeat offender, the charge is upgraded to a third-degree felony. You can receive a prison sentence between two and 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you are convicted of aggravated assault against a family member, it is a second-degree felony in Texas. You can get between two and 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the act of aggravated assault involved using a deadly weapon and you caused serious bodily harm, it is a first-degree felony. You can get between five and 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Can The Victim Recant A Domestic Violence Charge?
Yes. However, after a Chambers County police report is filed, the charge is not in the hands of the person who made the charge. Only the county prosecutor can dismiss a domestic violence charge. The law requires the prosecutor to consider dismissing the charge in this situation, but it is not guaranteed.
The prosecutor will often proceed with the criminal case even if the domestic violence was just a misunderstanding. The alleged victim can be subpoenaed by the prosecutor and forced to testify.
Fortunately, an experienced domestic violence criminal defense attorney can make a massive difference if the alleged victim withdraws the charge. Your attorney’s investigation of the incident could reveal that the police report took certain statements out of context. Also, the police might have jumped to conclusions or did not perform a thorough investigation.
How Can A Texas Domestic Violence Conviction Affect You?
Being accused of domestic violence by itself is a huge problem; the social stigma of the charge can be devastating. But if you are convicted, you face many severe penalties:
- Jail and fines: Just a misdemeanor conviction can net you a year in prison and a $4,000 fine.
- Child custody consequences: Many do not realize that a domestic violence conviction can affect your parental rights. This is the case if you are in a custody dispute with your ex. When you have a domestic violence conviction, you could even lose custody of your children, and visitation rights will be more complicated.
- Owning firearms: A conviction for domestic violence means losing the right to own a gun. Of course, this is always true for a felony, but even a misdemeanor conviction affects gun rights.
- Employment problems: Your conviction will be in the public record. You can lose your job, which will also affect your future prospects. After all, almost every employer performs a criminal background check as part of the hiring process.
- Loss of housing: Many landlords use background checks before renting a house or apartment. You can have many problems getting the housing you want.
How Do You Defend Against A Texas Domestic Violence Charge?
Domestic violence charges are devastating, and a conviction is even worse. But a domestic violence charge is not the end of your life. Several robust defenses in your attorney’s arsenal may be appropriate:
The Act Was Unintentional
The law requires that the violence was intentional, reckless, and committed knowingly against your victim. If it was accidental, it is, by definition, not domestic violence. So, if the injuries were because of an accident, you could be found not guilty of domestic violence.
The Alleged Victim Is Not Telling The Truth
All charges of domestic violence must be taken seriously. However, it is common for ex-partners and spouses to try to turn an accident into a criminal act. This may be done to gain an advantage in a divorce or child custody fight. Texas law does offer the accused some safeguards when it comes to this kind of domestic violence situation.
It Was Self-Defense
It is not unusual for the person charged in a domestic violence case to have been defending themselves. For example, suppose your wife assaults you for no reason. While attempting to push her away, she injures her head when falling to the floor. She could claim that you abused her. Even if you acted in self-defense, the police would likely believe the person with injuries.
In this situation, your criminal defense attorney may argue that the ‘assault’ was just you trying to protect yourself. You can aid in your defense in this situation if you have written records of your partner threatening you. For example, check your social media feeds and text messages for your ex’s aggressive messages. This evidence can be used to show who may have been the aggressor.
Again, all domestic violence charges should always be investigated. However, some people will make up stories about ‘assault’ to take revenge on an ex-spouse or partner. This is wrong because it makes many people doubt real domestic violence victims.
If the assault allegations against you are false, your attorney will try to argue it in court. It helps if there are no physical injuries to the alleged victim. Without evidence, there should be reasonable doubt for the judge or jury.
Also, your attorney knows that alleged victims who make up stories of abuse often have weak stories. For example, if a man alleges his wife assaulted him, he could have trouble keeping the story straight. When people are not telling the truth, they often tell different stories to different people and investigators. For example, if your husband is making up that you tried to attack him, he might tell one person it was in the bedroom and tell the next that it was in the kitchen.
Domestic violence is emotional, and the police may let personal biases interfere with their work. For example, the responding officer could automatically assume one person was the aggressor when it was the other.
Contact Our Chambers County Domestic Violence Lawyer Today
Have you been charged with domestic violence in Galveston? If convicted, you could spend significant time in jail and face severe problems with employment, housing, and more. However, you can prevail in a domestic violence trial. The county prosecutor may try to encourage you to plead guilty. However, the only way to safeguard your future and reputation is by pleading innocent in most cases.
To win in court, you must have a skilled criminal defense litigator working for you. Our Chambers County domestic violence lawyers can assist you. Please contact Mark Diaz & Associates today at (409) 515-6170.