Have You Been Charged With Domestic Violence?
Have you been charged with domestic violence in Texas? Then we’re here to help. Read this guide to learn what you need to do.
Each year, cases of domestic violence affect over 10 million men and women. If you face charges of domestic violence, this can have a serious impact on your life and your finances.
If you’re dealing with a domestic violence charge in Texas, there are a few things you should do in order to get the most favorable outcome from your case.
Read on for our complete guide on what to do if you’re charged with domestic violence in the state of Texas.
What is Domestic Violence?
A domestic violence crime is any crime occurring between individuals who are (past or present) married or have an otherwise intimate relationship, such as dating or living together.
A domestic violence crime primarily involves assault, whether verbal or physical. However, it can also entail disorderly conduct, refusal to leave the premises, violation of a personal order of protection, or theft and/or damage to property.
Domestic violence cases typically come from cases of extended emotional abuse as well as psychological abuse. If you’re charged with domestic violence, it’s highly advisable to seek legal counsel immediately.
Who Can File a Domestic Violence Case
A domestic violence case involves individuals that have a romantic or otherwise intimate relationship with one another. This relationship, defined as a “domestic relationship,” has to meet one of the following criteria:
- Married individuals, or those who have been married in the past
- Those who are in a de-facto dating relationship
- Those who live together, or have lived together in the past
- Those who have a (paid or unpaid) dependent relationship, or those who have in the past
- Those who have (or have had) a serious intimate relationship, whether sexual or not
- Those who are (or have been considered) relatives
What If I’m Facing Domestic Violence Charges?
A domestic violence charge is a serious offense. If you face domestic violence charges, you should seek legal assistance before you proceed any further.
What to Expect from Your Court Case
If you face domestic violence charges, the police will likely arrest you. You can use a lawyer or bondsman to turn yourself in, which is usually a much easier process. Your criminal defense attorney will obtain “discovery.” This will outline the prosecutor’s case against you and give you a chance to respond.
The discovery will include the following information:
- The victim’s account of what happened
- A recording of the victim’s statement against you, if one exists
- Photographs of any injuries or damaged property that occurred from the confrontation
When you are first asked to appear in court, they will likely be asking you how you’re pleading. Seek legal advice before you decide whether to plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” If you need more time, you can request temporary court delay, but this may not last longer than 14 days. In a criminal case, the court should appoint a lawyer if you cannot afford one. Make sure you ask for a lawyer if you need one.
Often, when someone is accused of family violence, there may be a civil protective order case, as well. So, you might be arrested and given a court date, but also “served” with a civil suit. When you are served, the paperwork should include the allegations against you, a sworn statement from the alleged victim, and a court date. Make sure you stay on top of both cases and show up to every court date.
Domestic Violence Laws in Texas
Texas law recognizes domestic violence as the use of force or any otherwise physical contact against those whom you have a domestic relationship with. This results in physical injury, emotional abuse/stress, and damage to personal property.
In order for a prosecutor to prove a case of domestic violence, they must prove that the defendant knowingly or willingly committed such acts that resulted in personal injury, emotional distress, and/or damage to property. If the case involves injuries and bodily harm, the prosecutor must also demonstrate that these resulted from the actions of the person accused.
To get a complete idea of what qualifies as a domestic violence offense in Texas, review Texas Penal Code 22.01 on assault.
Possible Defenses of Domestic Violence
Not everyone who faces domestic violence charges in Texas receives a guilty verdict. If you face charges, you may have defenses that justify your actions in the case.
Here are some of the main defenses you can use in a domestic violence case:
- You can claim that your actions that resulted in the damage or injury were either unintentional or a mistake
- You can claim that your actions resulted from self-defense
- You can claim that the incident(s) are false or that they never occurred
- You can claim a lack of knowledge on the issue or incident
- You can contest the extent of the alleged injuries or damage
Regardless of what happened, be sure to seek legal counsel from your lawyer. They can help you build a defense case for the best possible outcome from your domestic violence case.
Penalties of Domestic Violence Charges in Texas
If you are found guilty of domestic violence in Texas, you may receive a “Class C” misdemeanor charge, which can result in up to one year in jail.
In more severe domestic violence cases, you can even be charged with a first-degree felony. This carries a wide range of consequences, including anywhere from 5 to 99 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Even if you are not convicted of assault or other domestic violence, an “affirmative finding of family violence” may be entered against you. An affirmative finding of family violence will follow you much like a criminal conviction, barring you from working with children or renting an apartment, among other collateral consequences.
Texas law takes several specific details into account when determining the severity of domestic violence charges. In most cases, if you knowingly or willingly caused the injuries, emotional distress, or property involved, you will be charged with a “Class A” misdemeanor.
In some cases, specific details regarding the victim, past domestic violence charges, and the type of violence that occurred can ease the charges or elevate the consequences.
Here are a few examples of specific details that can seriously affect your domestic violence case in Texas:
- Whether the case involves strangling or otherwise asphyxiating
- Relationship of alleged victim to the defendant
- Age of alleged victim
- Past domestic violence convictions (or lack thereof)
- Whether a deadly weapon was used or exhibited
There is no one specific outcome that you can expect. Rather than have a defined legal procedure, Texas law focuses on individual aspects of the case that can ease or worsen the penalties for the defendant.
Get Legal Representation Now
If you face domestic violence charges in Texas, don’t wait to get legal representation for yourself. The right attorney can help you build your case and ensure the best possible outcome.
Contact us today for more information on options for your domestic violence case.