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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Domestic and Family Violence Law in Texas: Web Resource by Dallas Domestic Criminal Defense Lawyer John Helms

Last updated Monday, August 30, 2021 11:13 ET

Domestic violence is colloquially referred to as family violence, and the official name for the charge is “assault — family violence.”

Dallas, USA, 08/30/2021 / SubmitMyPR /

As is the case in most states, domestic violence is taken very seriously in Texas. It is also a unique, complicated, and frequently misunderstood area of Texas law. Continue reading for the answers to several frequently asked questions about domestic violence law in Texas.

How is Domestic Violence Defined in Texas?

Domestic violence is also colloquially referred to as family violence, and the official name for the charge is “assault — family violence.” In short, this charge is for situations where assault is committed against a member of the perpetrator's family or household, or against a dating partner. Under Texas law, “family” is defined as any of the following for this particular charge:

  • A spouse

  • A former spouse

  • A parent of your child, regardless of past or present marriage status

  • A relative of a spouse

  • A blood relative

  • A foster parent or child

  • A member of your household

  • A dating partner (the relationship is “romantic or intimate in nature”)

What Offenses Are Considered Domestic Violence?

Basically, anything that qualifies for an assault charge and is committed against one of the groups listed above would be charged as domestic violence. Family violence can be charged as anything ranging from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. Below are some of the most common family violence offenses in Texas and what they are usually charged as.

  • Threatening imminent bodily injury (Class C Misdemeanour)

  • Intentional physical contact, while being aware that the recipient will find it offensive or provocative (Class C Misdemeanour)

  • Intentionally inflicting bodily harm or physical pain (Class A Misdemeanour)

  • Intentionally inflicting bodily harm or physical pain with a prior family violence conviction (third-degree felony)

  • Choking or suffocating (third-degree felony)

  • Choking or suffocating with a prior family violence conviction (second-degree felony)

  • Aggravated assault without a deadly weapon, but the serious bodily injury is inflicted (second-degree felony)

  • Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon present (second-degree felony)

  • Aggravated assault where a deadly weapon is used to inflict serious bodily injury (first-degree felony)

What Are the Penalties for Texas Family Violence?

Because of the variety of offenses charged as family violence, the penalties also greatly vary. These are the penalties that correspond with each class of family violence assault charge.

Class C Misdemeanor

  • Fine: Up to $500

  • Jail time: None

  • Probation possible: Yes

  • Deferred adjudication possible: Yes

Class A Misdemeanor

  • Fine: Up to $4000

  • Jail time: Up to 1 year

  • Probation possible: Yes

  • Deferred adjudication possible: Yes

Third Degree Felony

  • Fine: Up to $10,000

  • Jail time: 2 to 10 years

  • Probation possible: Yes

  • Deferred adjudication possible: Yes

Second Degree Felony

  • Fine: Up to $10,000

  • Jail time: 2 to 20 years

  • Probation possible: Yes

  • Deferred adjudication possible: Yes

First Degree Felony

  • Fine: Up to $10,000

  • Jail time: 5 to 99 years

  • Probation possible: Yes

  • Deferred adjudication possible: Yes

There are several additional special rules when it comes to family violence charges. Firstly, if a deadly weapon was used during the alleged crime, the defendant cannot enter a guilty plea, but the jury may recommend probation, and deferred adjudication is still a possibility. Secondly, if a case is dismissed under deferred adjudication, this still counts as a conviction when authorities are determining whether or not an individual has past family violence convictions, which will elevate the severity of subsequent charges.

Can a Victim of Family Violence Decline to Press Charges?

One aspect of family violence law and prosecution that sets it apart from other areas of the law is that an alleged victim of domestic violence cannot stop the prosecution from pursuing the case. In other words, it is up to the prosecution whether or not the charges are dropped, not the victim. Alleged victims of domestic violence are often compelled to testify under oath against aggressors, even when they do not want to.

What Are the Most Common Defenses Against Family Violence Charges?

The most common defenses against family violence charges in Texas include:

  • False accusation. A defense lawyer may look for inconsistencies in a victim’s story or potential motives to bring false allegations.

  • Accident or mistake. Physical contact against a victim may have been accidental or mistaken. However, this defense is notoriously difficult to prove in court and requires an experienced defence attorney.

  • Self-defense. Under Texas law, all persons have the right to use force against an aggressor to defend themselves. A defense attorney will look for pieces of the story that may justify the force used against the alleged victim, although this defense gets more and more difficult to use the more force was used against the alleged victim.

  • The injuries were not caused by the accused. In some cases, the prosecution may wrongly attribute marks or injuries on a victim's body to the accused. Because the extent of bodily injury is important in determining charges and penalties, clarifying the true source of injuries is crucial for reaching justice.

References: 

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/08/24/2285757/0/en/Dallas-Domestic-Violence-Defense-Lawyer-John-Helms-Explains-Domestic-Violence-Law-Guidelines.html

Original Source of the original story >> Domestic and Family Violence Law in Texas: Web Resource by Dallas Domestic Criminal Defense Lawyer John Helms