By: Mark Diaz
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How to Get Charges Dropped for Domestic Violence in Texas
If you were recently arrested for domestic violence in Texas, one of the first questions you may have is, “How do I beat these charges?” In some cases, an arrest may be due to heightened emotions that carry over into poor judgment and physical acts of aggression. However, it is also common for domestic violence charges to be based upon misrepresentations or false allegations to gain leverage in other legal matters.
Regardless of the specific circumstances, once you have been arrested for a crime of family violence in Texas, your situation is critical. With criminal domestic violence, you could face imprisonment, fines, and many other sanctions.
Only a prosecutor can drop domestic violence charges in Texas, so options for fighting them will be two-fold: Contesting the allegations and presenting your own defenses. It is possible to develop solid legal strategies around each of these points, which could potentially lead to a dismissal or acquittal at trial. You can trust a League City domestic violence attorney to advise you on how to handle domestic violence charges in Texas, but a summary may be helpful.
Table of Contents
Essential Elements of a Domestic Violence Crime
As with any other criminal offense in Texas, the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction in a Texas domestic violence case. The specifics in a domestic violence criminal case are important in the context of fighting the charges. The essential elements of the offense align with the definition of family violence as it applies to general assault offenses, so you could be arrested if:
- You engage in an act against a person who is a member of your family or household. Depending on the circumstances, the definition could be expanded to include spouses, children, grandchildren, other blood relatives, and relatives by marriage. It also encompasses anyone with whom you are or were in a dating relationship or anyone who lives in your household with you.
- Your actions intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused another physical harm, or bodily injury.
The prosecutor has to establish both of these elements, each of which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Penalties Family Violence Cases in Texas
The punishment for a conviction will depend upon the facts, but the charges may include:
Threats of harm or offensive contact could lead to an arrest for a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $500. If the victim is hurt, Class A Misdemeanor charges likely apply and you could face up to a year in jail.
Note that domestic assault with injury becomes a Third-Degree Felony if you have a criminal history of similar offenses or your actions involved choking the accuser. A conviction could lead to a mandatory minimum of two and up to 10 years in prison, along with a $10,000 fine.
Aggravated Domestic Assault
When the attack causes serious bodily injury to your accuser or involves the use or showing of a deadly weapon, the charges are elevated to aggravated domestic assault. What constitutes “serious” harm will depend upon the facts, but will likely include broken bones, head trauma, and any injury requiring surgery or hospitalization. In addition to a firearm or knife, a “deadly” weapon might be any object capable of causing fatal or catastrophic bodily harm, and which was used in such a way.
The basic form of aggravated domestic assault is a Second-Degree Felony. The punishment range for this is no less than 2 years in prison and up to 20 years in prison. If aggravated domestic assault involves both a deadly weapon and serious bodily injury, the crime is a First-Degree Felony. The punishment range for a First-Degree Felony is 5-99 years in prison.
A person can be arrested for continuous violence, a type of domestic assault, by committing two or more acts of domestic assault within a 12-month period. Keep in mind that it is not necessary that the previous case results in a conviction, and it is irrelevant whether the alleged victim is the same person. Continuous violence is a Third-Degree Felony punishable as described above.
Violation of Protective Orders
If an accuser obtains a domestic violence protective order after an arrest for a crime involving family violence, there will be specific instructions prohibiting you from engaging in certain acts. This likely includes forbidding you from contacting the accuser, forbidding you from being at or near your home, or even forbidding you from speaking to your children even if they are not involved. It is likely that the court entered the order without input from you or maybe even without input from the accuser.
Nonetheless, it is still legally binding. A violation of a protective order, such as contacting or approaching the accuser, is a criminal offense. The basic form of the crime is a Class A Misdemeanor, but various levels of felony charges apply to repeated offenses.
Strategies for Defending Family Violence Charges
Considering the harsh penalties, collateral consequences, and implications for your rights, you must leverage all possible tactics to fight the charges. You will have opportunities to do so from the moment of your arrest, which is why retaining a League City domestic violence attorney is critical at the earliest possible stages. Your lawyer may implement a wide range of defense strategies depending on your case, so keep the following information in mind.
- The prosecutor’s burden is a high one that can be challenging to meet. Because these cases involve close relationships and emotions, your accuser may not cooperate or agree to testify. Without this key fact, a good attorney will use this to your advantage.
- Community supervision, which you may know as probation, may be an option in certain cases and such would allow you to avoid serving jail time for the crime.
- Even if you cannot get the charges dropped, you may be able to work out a plea agreement with the prosecutor. By plea bargaining, you can reduce the charges, punishment, or both. This strategy may be important for getting felony charges down to a misdemeanor, when available.
What to do About Domestic Violence Charges
When you know that there are defenses and strategies for mitigating the consequences of domestic violence charges, it is clear you need a League City domestic violence lawyer on your side. Still, you need to set the right foundation so your attorney can leverage the best options for fighting the allegations. Some tips include:
- Do not resist arrest, confront officers, or act in a belligerent manner when dealing with police. If you feel your rights are being violated by the police, the best strategy is always to comply and allow your attorney to fight it later in court.
- Immediately exercise your constitutional rights to remain silent and consult with legal counsel. Always decline to answer questions posed by police, and do not offer additional information – even to profess your innocence.
- Never attempt to communicate with your accuser in person or via phone, email, text, social media, or any other channels. Even if they invite the communication, and this happens quite frequently, you should avoid this as it usually is used against the person later.
- Avoid going on social media entirely or, at minimum, do not post any information about the case.
Discuss Your Options with a League City Domestic Violence Attorney
When it comes to domestic violence charges in Texas, it is essential to have legal representation when you face jail time, fines, and limitations on your personal freedoms.
For more information, please contact Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Diaz to set up a free consultation. Individuals in Galveston County and Greater Houston can call (409) 515-6170 to reach a skilled Leaague City domestic violence defense lawyer.
Mark Diaz & Associates is a Criminal Defense Law Firm in Galveston, Texas representing clients throughout Galveston, Chambers and Harris Counties including but not limited to Tiki Island, Jamaica Beach, Texas City, League City, Alvin, Algoa, Santa Fe, Hitchcock, La Marque, Bayou Vista, Bacliff, San Leon, Dickinson, Kemah, Bolivar Peninsula, Clear Lake Shores, and Friendswood.