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What To Know About Domestic Violence Charges in Texas

By: Mark Diaz July 8, 2024 no comments

What To Know About Domestic Violence Charges in Texas

Domestic violence charges in Texas are serious offenses that can carry severe legal consequences and long-lasting personal ramifications. Being informed about the nature of these charges, the legal definitions, the potential penalties, the legal process, and the importance of skilled legal representation is crucial for anyone facing criminal charges.

Understanding Domestic Violence Under Texas Law

Domestic violence in Texas is defined under Title 5, Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code. The state categorizes domestic violence into three main types – domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family.

Domestic Assault – This occurs when someone intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person, including a family member, household member, or a current or former dating partner. It also includes threats of imminent harm and physical contact that the victim finds offensive or provocative.

Aggravated Domestic Assault – This charge is more severe and applies when serious bodily injury is inflicted or when the assailant uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the assault.

Continuous Violence Against the Family – This is a unique charge in Texas where an individual commits two or more domestic assaults within 12 months, regardless of whether the assaults resulted in an arrest or conviction.

Legal Definitions and Key Terms

Bodily Injury – This term refers to physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. It does not necessarily require visible injuries; the victim’s testimony of pain can be sufficient.

Family Violence – This encompasses any act intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault against a family member. It also includes threats that reasonably place the family member in fear of imminent harm.

Dating Violence – This is defined as an act intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault committed by one partner against the other in a current or past dating relationship.

Potential Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges

The penalties for domestic violence in Texas vary based on the severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history.

Class A Misdemeanor – A first-time domestic assault charge without aggravating factors is typically classified as a Class A misdemeanor. This can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

Third-Degree Felony – If the assault involves choking/strangulation or continuous violence against the family, then it is classified as a third-degree felony, which can lead to a prison sentence ranging from 2 to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

Second-Degree Felony – Aggravated domestic assault against the family is generally classified as a second-degree felony. This offense carries a potential prison sentence ranging from 2 to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

First-Degree Felony – If the aggravated domestic assault results in severe injury or involves the use of a deadly weapon, it can be elevated to a first-degree felony. The penalties for this charge can include a prison sentence ranging from 5 to 99 years or life, along with a fine of up to $10,000.

The Legal Process for Domestic Violence Charges

Facing a domestic violence charge in Texas involves several stages, each of which requires careful navigation and a solid legal strategy.

Arrest and Booking – When a domestic violence incident is reported, the police investigate and, if there is probable cause, arrest the alleged offender. The suspect is then taken into custody and booked into jail.

Initial Appearance – The defendant appears before a judge, who will explain the charges and the defendant’s rights. Bail may be set at this stage.

Arraignment – During the arraignment, the defendant is formally charged and asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. This is a critical stage where the assistance of a skilled attorney can make a significant difference.

Pre-Trial – This phase involves discovery, where both the defense and prosecution exchange evidence. Motions may be filed to suppress or limit evidence. Negotiations for plea bargains also usually occur during this period.

Trial – If the case goes to trial, both sides will present their cases, question witnesses, and submit evidence. The judge or jury will then deliberate and render a verdict.

Acquittal – If the defendant is found “not guilty”, then the defendant is cleared and released of the charges. The “not guilty” verdict essentially exonerates the defendant.


Sentencing – If the defendant is found “guilty”, the judge or the jury will impose a sentence based on the severity of the offense and other potential factors.

Potential Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges

There are several defenses that an experienced attorney can employ to challenge domestic violence charges in Texas.

Self-Defense – If the defendant can prove that they were acting in self-defense or defense of another person, this can be shown in court by way of asserting this affirmative defense. An affirmative defense means that, while the defendant may be guilty of the offense he or she is charged with (such as assaulting another), there is credible evidence that negates the criminal liability of the defendant – such as, acting in self-defense or in defense of a third person.

Lack of Intent – Demonstrating that the alleged act was accidental and not intentional or reckless can undermine the prosecution’s case.

False Allegations – In some cases, the alleged victim may falsely accuse the defendant due to motives like revenge, custody disputes, or financial gain. An attorney can investigate and present evidence to expose these false claims.

Insufficient Evidence – The burden of proof lies with the prosecution. If they cannot present enough credible evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the charges could be dismissed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Violence Charges in Texas

What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Texas?

Domestic violence in Texas involves any act of violence or threat of violence against a family member, household member, or a person in a current or past dating relationship. This includes physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault. Even actions that cause fear of imminent harm can be considered domestic violence under Texas law.

Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Dropped by the Victim?

No, in Texas, the decision to drop domestic violence charges lies solely with the prosecutor, not the victim. Once the police are involved and charges are filed, the state prosecutes the case. While the victim’s input may (and should) be considered, the ultimate decision rests with the prosecutor as to whether the case will proceed further in the system or not.

What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence Convictions in Texas?

Penalties for domestic violence in Texas vary depending on the severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history. A Class A misdemeanor can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. More severe charges, such as third-degree felonies involving choking/strangulation, can result in 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Aggravated domestic assault can carry even harsher penalties, including up to 20 years in prison.

Can I Get a Domestic Violence Charge Expunged in Texas?

In Texas, expunging a domestic violence charge is challenging and the law is very technical in this area. Generally, if you are convicted, then your record cannot be expunged. However, if the charges are dismissed, you may be eligible for an expunction after a waiting period. If you are placed on deferred probation for a domestic violence case and you successfully complete your probation, despite not being convicted of the case, you would not be eligible for an expunction in this scenario.

Expunction law is complicated and when it comes to the potential of expunging domestic violence charges, the law can be confusing. If you find yourself questioning whether you are eligible to clear your record and you were charged with a domestic violence case, consult with an experienced attorney who handles these types of cases in the area where your charges were filed. A knowledgeable attorney in this area can assess your circumstances and apply the intricacies of the expunction statute to your situation. They will be able to advise you on what may or may not be available to you.

What Should I Do if I Am Accused of Domestic Violence?

If you are accused of domestic violence, it is crucial to seek legal representation right away to protect your rights. Do not contact the alleged victim, as this could lead to additional charges and/or complicate your defense. Follow your attorney’s advice closely, and gather any evidence that might support your case, such as text messages, emails, or names witnesses who can testify on your behalf. All gathered evidence and information should be turned over to your attorney to let them assist you in your defense.

How Can a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Help Me?

A domestic violence defense attorney can provide essential support and representation throughout your case. They can challenge the prosecution’s evidence, negotiate for reduced charges or alternative sentencing, and present a strong defense on your behalf. An experienced attorney understands the intricacies of Texas law and can help protect your rights and your future.

What Is the Process for a Domestic Violence Case in Texas?

The process typically starts with an arrest and booking, followed by an initial appearance where bail may be set. Afterward, the defendant attends an arraignment to enter a plea. The pre-trial phase involves discovery, motions, and potential plea negotiations. If the case goes to trial, both sides present their evidence and arguments, after which a verdict is rendered. If found “not guilty”, then the defendant is released of the charges and the case is over. Alternatively, if the defendant is found “guilty”, sentencing follows based on the severity of the offense.

Why Should I Choose Mark Diaz & Associates for My Defense?

Mark Diaz & Associates offers decades of experience in criminal defense, with vast experience in defending clients against domestic violence charges. The firm provides personalized defense strategies, aggressive courtroom representation, and a client-centered approach to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Contact Mark Diaz & Associates at 409-515-6170 to discuss your situation and begin building your defense.

The Importance of a Skilled Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

Navigating domestic violence charges in Texas requires a thorough understanding of the law, meticulous preparation, and strategic defense planning. An experienced attorney plays a crucial role in ensuring that the defendant’s rights are protected throughout the legal process.

Legal Experience – An attorney with extensive experience in domestic violence cases will have in-depth knowledge of Texas laws and the nuances of the criminal justice system.

Strategic Defense – A skilled lawyer can analyze the specifics of the case, identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence, and develop a robust defense strategy tailored to the defendant’s situation.

Negotiation Skills – Often, an attorney can negotiate with the prosecution for reduced charges or alternative sentencing options, such as probation or counseling, which can significantly lessen the impact on the defendant’s life.

Emotional Support – Facing domestic violence charges can be emotionally draining. A compassionate attorney can provide the necessary support and guidance to help the defendant navigate this challenging time.

Why Choose Mark Diaz & Associates?

When facing domestic violence charges in Texas, having a dedicated and experienced legal team is paramount. Mark Diaz & Associates offers unparalleled experience in defending clients against domestic violence allegations.

Years and Years of Experience – With many years of experience in criminal law, the attorneys at Mark Diaz & Associates have a deep understanding of the legal landscape and the complexities of domestic violence cases.

Personalized Defense – Each case is unique, and the firm is committed to providing personalized defense strategies that address the specific circumstances of the client’s case.

Aggressive Representation – The attorneys at Mark Diaz & Associates are known for their aggressive representation in the courtroom, fighting tirelessly to protect their clients’ rights and achieve the best possible outcomes.

Client-Centered Approach – The firm prioritizes client satisfaction, ensuring that clients are informed, supported, and involved in every step of their defense.

Contact Mark Diaz & Associates for Exceptional Representation

If you or a loved one is facing domestic violence charges in the Galveston County, Texas area, then it is essential to secure experienced legal representation promptly. Mark Diaz & Associates, a Texas criminal defense law firm, has vast experience in domestic violence defense and knows how to handle the representation of clients who are charged with these types of offenses.

Contact our Galveston County criminal defense lawyers at Mark Diaz & Associates by calling 409-515-6170 to receive a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to providing the strong, effective defense you need to protect your future. Don’t face these charges alone—trust Mark Diaz & Associates to stand by your side and fight for your rights.

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