Domestic violence incidents present significant challenges for the parties involved and their families. In some cases, the law mandates that law enforcement arrest someone after an allegation of domestic violence is made.
Depending on the circumstances, domestic violence allegations can result in felony charges or misdemeanor charges.
Additionally, domestic violence charges can affect your ability to live at home with your family or secure gainful employment, and they can cause irreparable harm to your reputation.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Texas Family Code § 71.0021 through 71.004 refers to family violence, or domestic violence, as violence occurring between family members, within households, or between dating partners.
The three primary types of domestic violence offenses in Texas include the following :
- Domestic assault,
- Aggravated domestic assault, and
- Continuous violence.
Family violence occurs when one member of a family or household acts in a way that is intended to result in physical harm, assault, or sexual assault toward another member of the family or household.
Unlike many other states, Texas domestic violence laws are not separate offenses. Instead, allegations of domestic violence act to enhance the penalty you face if convicted of certain crimes.
For example, generally, an assault under Texas Penal Code § 22.01 is a Class A misdemeanor.
However, if the offense was committed against a current or former partner or family member, and you have a prior family violence conviction, the offense becomes a felony of the third degree.
What Is Domestic Violence As a Misdemeanor?
In Texas, domestic assaults involving threats of harm or offensive contact are a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.
However, if the victim experiences a bodily injury, or is threatened with a bodily injury by a family member, the offense will increase to a class A misdemeanor.
Class A misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $4,000, up to a year in jail, or both.
What Is Felony Domestic Violence?
Under Texas law, an assault involving injury becomes a third-degree felony if the accused has any prior domestic assault convictions, commonly known as Assault Family 2nd Offense, or the offense involves strangulation or suffocation.
Additionally, under Texas Penal Code § 25.11, continuous violence against the family is also a felony offense. Continuous violence against the family is defined as committing two or more domestic assaults within the past 12 months.
Notably, there is no requirement that each instance was the basis of a separate conviction.
Therefore, you can face felony domestic violence charges for a first offense if the allegations involve two or more separate DV assaults, even if they are only a day apart.
Examples of Domestic Violence
Texas law recognizes several types of domestic violence. In addition to physical violence, other forms of recognized domestic violence include psychological, financial, sexual, and emotional abuse.
Physical abuse can include kicking, hitting, slapping, and punching. Further, withholding necessary medical treatment can also rise to the level of physical abuse in Texas.
Psychological abuse entails any threatening or intimidating conduct intended to cause fear in another.
Psychological abuse includes preventing a person from seeing family or friends, emotional blackmail, and threats of violence.
Economic or financial abuse involves creating a situation that makes another financially dependent on the abuser.
Economic abuse can involve withholding funds, preventing the other party from seeking employment or education, and spending a partner’s savings.
In Texas, sexual abuse typically involves rape or sexual assault. However, sexual abuse can also include unwanted touching, forcing a partner to get an abortion, or not using birth control.
Emotional abuse can occur when one partner uses insults, criticism, and humiliation to control or harm their partner.
When Do I Need a San Antonio Domestic Violence Lawyer?
The Texas Penal Code does not contain a section on domestic violence offenses. Instead, certain criminal statutes outline stricter penalties if the offense is committed against a family member.
For example, a simple assault against a family member or romantic partner is considered a Class A misdemeanor absent aggravating circumstances.
However, if the victim was choked or strangled during the incident, the charge increases to a felony.
Texas recognizes domestic violence as abuse between people related by “consanguinity or affinity,” meaning related by blood or by marriage.
This includes relationships with:
- Cousins, and
- Aunts and uncles.
Domestic violence also includes dating violence, which is violent acts between two people who are or have been in a dating relationship. Other criminal charges that are common after domestic violence allegations include:
- Continuous violence against the family,
- Violation of a protection order,
- Disturbing the peace, or
- Offensive contact.
A San Antonio domestic violence attorney can review your case and determine what penalties you are facing.
An experienced lawyer may also be able to challenge the prosecution’s characterization of the relationship to avoid a DV enhancement.
Contact Austin Hagee Law Firm today to schedule an appointment with a domestic violence attorney.
How Can a Domestic Violence Lawyer Help My Case?
Whether it is your first time navigating criminal charges or not, a domestic violence attorney can offer valuable guidance in your pursuit of a favorable outcome.
A qualified lawyer will help your case by:
- Locating any police reports describing the incident,
- Interviewing witnesses to testify on your behalf,
- Determining whether a legal defense applies to your circumstances,
- Negotiating with the district attorney to reduce or drop your charges, and
- Preparing your case for trial, if necessary.
In short, hiring a domestic violence defense attorney is essential to securing the best possible outcome in your case.
Get in Contact with a Domestic Violence Lawyer in San Antonio, Texas Today
A domestic violence conviction can change your life forever. The team at Austin Hagee Law Firm is here to advocate for you and defend your constitutional rights.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in San Antonio, contact Austin Hagee Law Firm today to talk to an experienced attorney.
Is there a Statute of Limitations for Domestic Violence Charges in Texas?
Texas law determines an offense’s statute of limitations—or the time limit within which the State must initiate a case against you—based on whether the crime is charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
For example, a misdemeanor domestic assault charge can be filed up to two years from the date of the offense. A felony domestic violence charge, like continuous violence against the family, can be filed for up to three years from the date of the incident.
How Long Do You Go to Jail for Domestic Violence?
The penalties and jail time can vary depending on the facts and circumstances of the incident. However, Class A misdemeanors carry penalties of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
In contrast, a person convicted of felony domestic violence case can face anywhere from 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
How Do I Find a Domestic Violence Lawyer in San Antonio?
If you search “domestic violence attorney near me” online, you will receive thousands of results. Many attorneys who appear in your search results may lack the experience or qualifications to represent you in San Antonio.
To find a good lawyer for your case, it’s best to do more work than a simple online search. Call the firms you are interested in to see how the office staff interact with you.
Do they appear to be eager to help or dismissive? If your first interaction is positive, ask if the attorney has free initial consultations.
If they don’t, you might want to move on. If they do, set up an appointment and go speak with the lawyer to get a feel for who they are, their experience level, and their commitment to their clients.
The criminal defense attorneys at Austin Hagee Law Firm have helped countless clients in the San Antonio area secure favorable outcomes in their criminal cases. We have the knowledge and resources it takes to navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights.
What happens if a Domestic Violence Victim doesn’t want to Press Charges?
If a domestic violence victim decides they do not want to pursue the case, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the government will drop the charges. Ultimately, it is up to the prosecutor to decide whether to prosecute the case without the testimony of that witness.
For example, if a victim decides they will not cooperate with the prosecution or testify against the defendant, the prosecutor has a decision to make.
They could attempt to force the victim to testify by issuing a subpoena, but there is no guarantee that the victim will testify truthfully or tell the story that got the defendant arrested in the first place.
So the prosecutor may look at what evidence of guilt still exists without the victim’s testimony. This evidence could be in the form of a 911 call, body worn camera footage (that is not hearsay), or photographic evidence. If there is enough to win at trial, they might go forward without the victim.
On the other hand, if there isn’t enough evidence or the alleged victim convincingly explains that the allegations were exaggerated or fabricated, it may compel the prosecution to withdraw the case completely.
In these situations, it is best to have an experienced trial attorney on your team that can help you analyze your case and negotiate with the prosecutors. Your legal advocate may be the difference between a life changing conviction or a dismissal.