Dallas Fort Worth Family Violence Lawyers
Texas’s Penal Code, Chapter 22, defines family violence as “an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself.”
Defending Domestic Violence Cases
If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense, your goal should be either to be found not guilty or have the case dismissed completely.
Domestic and Family Violence charges, as opposed to a non-family violence assault, carry some severe unique consequences if one is found guilty or even placed on probation. Aside from possible jail time and expensive fines, it can have serious consequences in a family law matter where custody of children is of children is at issue. Further, it will prohibit a person from possessing a firearm.
Seriousness of Domestic and Family Violence Charges:
The level of family violence charges filed is determined by several factors:
- The amount injury caused, (ie: bodily injury or serious bodily injury).
- Was a deadly weapon used,
- previous convictions,
- age of the victims.
- impeding airway (choking cases)
A person can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor simply for threatening violence against a family member or causing bodily injury or pain in the act of an assault.
Felony charges can be filed if there have been incidents of violence against a family member in the past, if a weapon was involved or if the assault was committed against a child, senior or a disabled family member.
Temporary Protective Orders
The alleged victim might pursue a temporary protective order restricting you from coming into contact with them. This may includes physical and verbal contact.
Texas “No Drop” policy
In a large percentage of cases, the alleged victim of assault will attempt to stop any prosecution by filing an affidavit of non-prosecution stating they do not wish to press charges. Most counties in Texas have a “no drop” policy. This means the prosecutor will almost always pursue charges, even if the alleged victim does not wish to. These charges are filed and usually have a designated court. In Dallas County it is County Criminal Courts Number 10 and 11, in Tarrant County, it is County Criminal Court No. 5.
Pretrial Program Options
Some defendants in an assault family violence case may be eligible for a diversion or pretrial dismissal program. Some counties in the DFW area have programs in which a case may be dismissed if a number of conditions are met. Generally, the person charged must have no prior criminal history, the alleged victim of the charge must agree to the program, the person charged must complete a counseling program (these vary in length) and complete a number of community service hours. These programs may vary from case to case and county to county. However, they can provide a resolution where a person can get their case completely dismissed with no court ordered community supervision. This avoids the legal family violence finding and will allow the person charged to clear their record at a later date.
Sec. 71.004. FAMILY VIOLENCE. “Family violence” means:
(1) an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself;
(2) abuse, as that term is defined by Sections 261.001(1)(C), (E), (G), (H), (I), (J), and (K), by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household; or
(3) dating violence, as that term is defined by Section 71.0021.
Punishment for a Family Violence Conviction in Texas
Like all other areas of the penal code, the defendant could be facing either misdemeanor or felony charges. Should a defendant be found guilty of in criminal court, the penalties include:
- Class A misdemeanor – up to one year in jail or a fines up to $4,000, or both
- 3rd degree felony – 2 to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000
- 2nd degree felony – 2 to 20 years in prison and fines up to $10,000, and
- 1st degree felony – 5 to 99 years in prison and fines up to $10,000
Losing the Right to Carry a Firearm
It’s important to remember a few things that occur specifically as a result of a family violence conviction in Texas. First, any conviction for family violence, even a misdemeanor, will result in the loss of your rights to carry a firearm. This could affect your career and cause you to lose your job if you are in law enforcement, security, or the military. Second, your record cannot be sealed, even after you have served your time on probation, county jail or in prison. This means that a temporary lapse of judgment or failure to hire quality legal counsel could result in serious life-long consequences and an indelible mark on your permanent record.
Possible Defense Strategies for Family Violence Charges
A criminal defense attorney will ask you numerous questions about the events leading up to your being charged with assault family violence. The reason is to establish a possible defense. While prosecutors may think they have an easy case, there are possible defenses to these charges.
- Self-defense – One possible defense for family violence is self-defense; in these cases, you must have felt threatened with harm and didn’t provoke the victim.
- Defending a family member – Another possible defense is you are defending another family member; for example, you were in fear your spouse or other would harm your child.
- Lack of Evidence – It is almost impossible for a prosecutor or judge to convict someone of a crime without any evidence. If there is no evidence to prove that you are guilty, then there it would be very difficult to convince a jury that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Witness testimony against accuser – If a witness testifies that they were present at the time of the alleged violence and that the accuser is being untruthful, it could help strengthen your case.
There may be other defenses that apply to specific cases so it’s important to discuss everything with your family violence defense lawyer.
Contact a Family Violence Lawyer in Fort Worth TX
If you have been charged with misdemeanor or felony family violence charges in Tarrant County, we strongly urge you to hire a defense attorney immediately. You need to contact a family violence lawyer immediately upon your arrest so that they can protect your rights and start building a strong defense. Remember, charges of family violence can stay on your record for your entire life, can impact your ability to own a firearm and could impact your ability to secure employment or have custody of your children.
If you or a loved one needs help regarding a family violence dispute, contact Bailey & Galyen as soon as possible. Our lawyers are here to assist you 24/7. If you are in a life- threatening situation, it is advisable to go to a shelter where you will be safe and then seek legal counsel. To learn more about your rights and options or to find out if an order of protection is appropriate for you, email or call us now at: 855-410-2088