Domestic violence makes up 15% of all violent crime in America, with twenty-four people becoming a victim of it every minute. Because of this, the country is seeing a huge clamp down on this type of crime. In fact, conviction rates for domestic violence are increasing every year.
However, this can mean bad news if you find yourself facing domestic violence charges in Texas. A conviction could mean that you have to pay fines of up to $10,000 and face up to 20 years in prison! A conviction could also destroy your future relationships, work options, and financial stability.
Not sure what you should do if you’re charged with family violence? That’s okay, we’re here to help.
Read on to find out everything you need to do if you face family violence charges in Texas.
Make Sure You Understand Domestic Violence Charges in Texas
There are three main types of domestic violence laws in Texas and these relate to different kinds of assault. In each case, the victim will be someone that you know intimately. This includes:
- A spouse or former spouse
- A partner or ex-partner
- A foster child or foster parent
- A child or child of your current or ex-spouse
- A roommate
- A blood or adopted relative
Domestic assault is the most basic type of domestic violence. This is an assault that involves injuring or threatening to injure a person that you know intimately. The act must have occurred intentionally or as a result of reckless behavior.
A first-time domestic assault could result in a $4,000 fine and jail time of up to one year. If you already have prior convictions, the penalty for domestic violence can be up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of anything between two and ten years. Prior convictions could be anything from DWI charges to marijuana possession.
Aggravated domestic assaults result in serious bodily injury and may involve the use of a deadly weapon. Serious injuries include broken bones, disfigurements or head injuries. Knives, guns and baseball bats are all examples of deadly weapons that may be used in an aggravated assault.
If you are convicted of an aggravated domestic assault you’ll face $10,000 in fines and between two and twenty years in jail.
Continuous violence occurs when two or more assaults have taken place. In most cases, these have to fall within two months of each other. These previous assaults don’t have to have ended in conviction and could have happened to several victims.
Continuous domestic violence carries a charge of two to ten years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Look at Your Plea Options
As you can see, Texas laws on assault don’t muck about when it comes to convictions. So it’s important to know what your defense options are.
In some cases, you may be able to plead innocent of the crime. This is always a strong option if there were no witnesses and there is little evidence to back up the accusation. You should be careful when pleading innocence though.
If any evidence shows up to support your accuser’s case this won’t look good on you. This could result in a harsher conviction.
This is why you may be better using an alternative defense. Some options include:
- Pleading self-defense against the accuser
- Arguing that there isn’t enough evidence to support the case and prove you guilty
- Discounting evidence using accidental injury arguments
- Arguing that the victim provoked you, either physically or psychologically
- Arguing that the victim gave their consent for the activity which resulted in their injuries
- Getting the case thrown out because of police misconduct
To figure out which plea suits your case best, you should definitely hire a domestic abuse lawyer.
Hire a Lawyer
A lawyer should be the first person you contact when you’re charged with domestic assault. They will be the most helpful person in your corner during your case.
An experienced lawyer will represent you throughout the case. They’ll also ensure that everything is managed professionally and in line with the law.
When it comes to your defense, they’ll be able to spot holes in the case against you. This requires an in-depth knowledge of the law that only they’ll be able to provide.
Respect a Protection Order
In most domestic assault cases, the accuser will often seek a protection order against the person charged. This legally prevents you from getting in touch with or approaching your accuser.
This can be extremely frustrating at the time but it’s important to respect a protection order. Ignoring it could land you in more legal trouble and act against you when your case comes to trial. For example, it could be used as evidence of your character in front of a jury.
If someone does take a protection order out against you, let your lawyer handle communications with them moving forward. This is a good way to make sure you don’t put a foot wrong while the courts are watching you.
Seek out Evidence for Your Case
A lot of domestic violence cases rely on evidence to make or break them. You may not be able to control things such as medical evidence. However, you can spend your time collecting evidence to support your defense.
This includes seeking out reputable character witnesses to testify about your relationship. Their accounts should undermine the idea that you could be violent towards this person.
When seeking out character references it’s a good idea to find people who are ‘impartial’. The state will quickly discredit anyone who is a friend or relative as ‘bias’.
Neighbors, school teachers, local shop owners, or employers are good people to contact. They will have seen you on a regular basis but remain removed enough from the situation to be impartial.
Before you get in touch with anyone, make sure you discuss it with your lawyer first.
Get Help With Your Domestic Violence Charges
Being accused of domestic assault can be an awful time for anyone but it’s important to keep your head. If you don’t, domestic violence charges in Texas could come down on you like a ton of bricks!
For more help with your case, check out our info on cases in Texas. Or get in touch to speak to an experienced lawyer today!