Most domestic violence charges arise in intense, high-emotion situations where many people say and do things they do not mean.
In Texas, domestic violence means abuse committed between people related by “consanguinity or affinity,” meaning related by blood or by marriage.
This includes relationships between the following groups:
- Parents and children (adoptive, biological, or foster),
- Dating couples,
- Current or former spouses,
- Roommates or co-tenants,
- Grandparents, or
The dating relationship is broadly defined by Texas criminal law and often includes people that may not think of themselves as “in a relationship” with another person.
The same can be said about the definition of “family member” as it also includes roommates. Domestic violence penalties vary based on whether you face felony or misdemeanor charges.
In some cases, the domestic violence laws in Texas require police officers to make an arrest when someone so much as makes allegations of domestic violence.
While it makes sense why officers would want to separate two people in a dispute for liability reasons, these policies sometimes can create rushes to judgment on arrests.
Officers that are forced to make a quick judgment call on an arrest are faced with several extremely difficult decisions. Also, it is common that these cases will have little or no physical evidence to assist officers in their rushed investigation.
Many officers do their best to judge each situation correctly, but with limited resources and a growing number of understaffed precincts, today it has become the job of the defense attorney to help the prosecution understand all the nuances of the situation and make the right judgment call on the outcome.
A domestic violence conviction can cost you a lot of money and prevent you from securing many good job opportunities, university scholarships, and many other opportunities.
Being labeled as a violent person can also stop you from living in certain locations and communities.
Also, an affirmative finding of family violence will eliminate your ability to own and possess a firearm in the state of Texas, destroying your Second Amendment liberties permanently. These consequences are in addition to the potential jail time you might have to serve.
Domestic Violence Law in Texas
The Texas law on domestic violence or family violence outlines different penalties for committing crimes against a family member. For example, the law defines family violence in several ways:
- Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing or threatening bodily injury to another person while exhibiting a deadly weapon;
- Assault Bodily Injury – Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person;
- Terroristic Threat – Intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily injury; or
- Assault Offensive Contact – Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other person will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
To qualify as domestic violence, any of these actions must be perpetrated against a family member as defined in the Texas criminal law.
Texas Domestic Violence Penalties
Penalties for the same or similar crimes escalate when domestic violence is involved. For instance, a regular assault by contact charge is considered a Class C misdemeanor, which is penalized by a fine of up to $500.
However, if the assault is against a family member, it is considered domestic violence and has the potential for a finding of family violence, which will trigger the consequences mentioned above and eliminate the ability to clear one’s criminal record.
A finding of family violence eliminates the ability of a criminal defendant to seal their criminal record, even if judgment has been deferred.
Likewise, an aggravated assault charge is considered a second-degree felony. However, aggravated assault against a family member is considered a first-degree felony for punishment purposes.
As you can see, when the crime is against a family member, this can increase the jail sentence, potential fines, and consequences.
How Can a Domestic Violence Lawyer Help My Case?
A domestic violence attorney can offer valuable advice while you navigate criminal charges and give you the best opportunity to secure a positive outcome. A qualified lawyer will help your case by doing the following:
- Interviewing witnesses and assessing who can most effectively testify on your behalf,
- Negotiating with the district attorney to reduce or drop your charges,
- Negotiating with the district attorney to get lesser penalties or a reduction in charge,
- Requesting and examining a copy of the police report,
- Determining whether a valid defense such as self-defense, mutual combat, or defense of others applies to your case, and
- Preparing your case for trial, if necessary.
Get in Contact with a San Antonio Domestic Violence Lawyer Today
The domestic violence attorneys at Austin Hagee Law Firm have helped countless clients secure favorable outcomes in their criminal cases.
We have the knowledge and resources necessary to navigate the criminal justice system.
Our team is here to advocate for you and defend you against domestic or family violence charges.
If you are facing such a charge, contact Austin Hagee Law Firm today to talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer in San Antonio.
Austin Hagee has worked on hundreds of cases as a family violence prosecutor and defense attorney, and he has the knowledge and skill to help you build a defense that is right for you or your loved one.