Domestic violence charges are taken very seriously in the State of Texas. If allegations are not handled properly by a qualified attorney, you may face life-long consequences. Here are some guidelines to help you if you face such charges.
First, it is important to know the law in Texas. There are three general ways in which someone can be accused of domestic violence:
(1) intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse; or
(2) intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse, or
(3) intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
The “person” who is the victim must be considered a member of your family or household. This definition is broad, and can include:
- a current or former spouse
- a child of a current or former spouse
- a person with whom the offender has a child or children
- a foster child or foster parent of the offender
- a family member of the offender by blood, marriage, or adoption
- someone with whom the offender lives, and
- a person with whom the offender has or had an ongoing dating or romantic relationship.
Domestic Violence Carries Serious Penalties
The three types of injury listed above, if it alleged to be against a member of your family or household, are all considered a class A misdemeanors—punishable by up to one (1) year in jail or a $4,000 fine.
However, if you are charged with this crime after being previously convicted, you may be accused of a third-degree felony offense— punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. This is also the case if it is the first offense and “choking” is alleged—intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of the person by applying pressure to the person’s throat or neck or by blocking the person’s nose or mouth. If a choking allegation accompanies a second offense, then you may be charged with a second-degree felony offense, which is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
As you can see, these charges can become very serious very quickly. However, the most concerning thing for Texas residents should be how easy it is to be charged with a family violence crime. During a domestic confrontation, an accusation of any bodily injury or offensive contact (or threat thereof) to the authorities can and likely will result in an arrest. No other corroborating evidence is needed other than one party accusing another party of such an act. Many law enforcement agencies have very strict policies on domestic violence cases, which may boil down to a verbal allegation mandating an arrest.
Once you’re arrested, and before any evidence is before a court of law, there may be many restrictions placed on your everyday life. Namely, a “no contact order”—or protective order— with the alleged victim. This means that, if the accuser is your spouse, you will need to find temporary living arrangements and may have restricted access to any children you share. Even if the claims lack merit, a charge of assault family violence will trigger such conditions. These inconveniences may be compounded if the court finds that you violate its order. An individual can be charged with violating the terms of their protective order if they knowingly or intentionally violate the terms of a protective order issued against them. This offense is punishable as a class A misdemeanor or a felony of the third degree—depending on the original charge.
You Need a Qualified Attorney
Knowing all this, it is imperative to find a qualified attorney that has handled these cases before. From the original alleged facts, the character and veracity of the accuser, your background as the accused, to the nature of the court, charges, and prosecutors handling your case, you’ll need a defense attorney representing you know knows all the possible variables. If not handled properly, a charge that may start as baseless could affect the rest of your life.
The attorneys and staff at Scheiner Law Group have seen countless cases of domestic violence. We’ve represented both men and women in these cases and know what it takes to get the desired outcome. If you are faced with such a charge or fear that you may soon face a charge, please contact us. We’re here to help.