Domestic Violence Attorney in Texas
According to Chapter 71 of the Texas Family Code, domestic violence or family violence is defined as any act by a family or household member against another family or household member that is intended to cause physical harm or bodily injury. Abuse and dating violence are also associated with family violence in Texas.
Texas law defines a family or household member as:
- Anyone related by blood,
- Anyone related by marriage,
- Foster parents,
- Step parents,
- Parents of the same child,
- Former spouses, and
- Anyone who resides or previously resided in the same home.
Almost anything can be construed as domestic violence state laws. Claims can occur during child custody or divorce proceeding, or in relationships that are fueled by spite, anger or jealousy. Although domestic violence charges can result in serious repercussions, a skilled defense lawyer may be able to help you identify defenses or mitigating factors that can result in a dismissal or reduction of the charges against you.
The experienced attorneys at Dunham & Jones know that you’re in for a tough fight. We are ready to take on your case, no matter how challenging your situation seems. If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, you can trust Dunham & Jones, Attorneys at Law to tirelessly defend your future. Call us at 512-777-7777 today to schedule your free consultation.
No Drop and Zero Tolerance Policies in Texas
No Drop Policy – In situations of domestic violence, the state, also known as the prosecution, decides if and when they want to pursue a criminal case, even if the alleged victim does not want to press charges. This means if any situation escalated out of control and the police were called to the scene, the state can prosecute the case, even if the person who was the alleged victim does not want to. This type of scenario is commonly referred to as the “no drop policy” in Texas.
Zero Tolerance Policy – When the police or law enforcement officers arrive at an alleged domestic violence scene and they have any probable cause to believe some form of bodily injury occurred, they will make an arrest no matter what the circumstance is. This is often referred to as a “zero tolerance policy”. A bodily injury is defined under Texas law as any illness, impairment of a physical condition, or any type of physical pain.
Allegations of Assault and Family Violence Offenses
There is not one general offense that is called “domestic violence” in the Texas Penal Code. Family violence can involve a number of offenses, the most common one being assault. Some of the most common domestic violence offenses are listed below.
Assault – Generally punishable as a Class C, Class B or Class A misdemeanor, or a felony of the third degree and involves the following:
- Intentionally, recklessly or knowingly cause bodily injury to another person;
- Knowingly or intentionally cause physical contact to another person they knew or should reasonably consider the contact to be offensive or provocative; or
- Knowingly or intentionally threaten another person with immediate bodily injury.
Sexual Assault – Tex. Penal Code § 22.011 – An individual can be charged with this offense if they knowingly or intentionally penetrate another person’s sexual organs or mouth without their consent. This offense can result in felony of the first or second-degree conviction.
Continuous Violence Against the Family – Tex. Penal Code § 25.11 – An individual can be charged with this offense if they commit an offense that is considered domestic or family violence two or more times within a period of 12 months or less. This offense is generally punishable as a felony of the third degree.
Domestic Violence Against a Child
Child Abuse – Defined as serious bodily injury, bodily injury, or serious mental injury to a child knowingly, with criminal negligence, intentionally or recklessly. This offense can result in a conviction for a felony of the third, second or first degree.
Abandoning or Endangering a Child – Defined as the intentional abandonment of a child under the age of 15 by an individual who has custody, care or control over in any place that exposes the child to an unreasonable risk of harm. An individual can also be charged with this offense if they knowingly, recklessly, with criminal negligence, or intentionally engage in some conduct that places a child under the age of 15 in danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment. This offense is generally punishable as a state jail felony, felony of the third degree or felony of the second degree.
Other Types of Domestic Violence Crimes
Kidnapping – Knowingly or intentionally abducting another person. This offense is generally punishable as a felony of the third degree.
Aggravated Kidnapping – Generally punishable as a felony of the second or first degree, this offense involves an individual knowingly or intentionally abducting another person with the intent to:
- Hold them for a ransom or a reward;
- Use them as a shield or a hostage;
- Assist in the attempt or commission of a felony;
- Assist in the flight from an attempt or commission of a felony;
- Inflict bodily injury on the person or abuse them sexually;
- Terrorize the victim or a third person; or
- Interfere with the performance of any political or governmental function.
Violation of Protective Order – Commonly known as a restraining order or protection order, a violation can result in a Class A misdemeanor or felony of the third-degree conviction.
If you were falsely accused of a domestic violence offense in Texas, your attorney will help you identify if there are any defenses that may apply in your unique situation. Defenses vary per case, so it is important to consult with your legal team to discuss the particular facts of your situation. Defense strategies can include:
- Self Defense – This defense may apply when the alleged offender used force against another person because they reasonably believed that person was about to cause them bodily injury or death.
- Defense of others – This defense may apply when the alleged offender used force against another person because they reasonably believed that person was causing or about to cause a third party harm, bodily injury or death.
- False Allegations – This defense may apply when the alleged offender was falsely accused by the alleged victim of committing an act of domestic violence.
- Lack of Intent – This defense may apply when the alleged offender was not in a state of mind to commit a family violence offense if the intent was a statutorily required element to the alleged offense.
Penalties for Convicted Offenders
The basic statutory terms of imprisonment and fines may vary depending on the age of the victim, whether the offense resulted in bodily injury, whether the alleged offender had a previous criminal history and/or whether a weapon was used during the commission of the offense.
- An individual charged with a class C misdemeanor domestic violence offense can be penalized with a fine up to $500.
- An individual charged with a class B misdemeanor domestic violence offense can be penalized with a fine up to $2,000 and/or a jail sentence up to 180 days.
- An individual charged with a class A misdemeanor domestic violence offense can be penalized with a fine up to $4,000 and/or a jail sentence up to one year.
- An individual charged with a state jail felony domestic violence offense can be penalized with a fine up to $10,000 and/or a jail sentence ranging from 180 days to two years.
- An individual charged with a felony of the third-degree family violence offense can be penalized with a fine up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years.
- An individual charged with a felony of the second-degree family violence offense can be penalized with a fine up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years.
- An individual charged with a felony of the first-degree family violence offense can be penalized with a fine up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years or life imprisonment.
Speak With an Experienced Lawyer Today
With your future at stake, you need to know that you can rely on your lawyer to defend you against any situation. At Dunham & Jones, we’re dedicated to aggressively fighting for your rights through every step of the process ahead of you. We focus solely on these complex charges, so you can rest assured that we know exactly how to formulate a defense strategy for your situation. Call 512-777-7777 today to schedule your free consultation appointment.