Domestic Violence or Assault—Family Violence
Whether it arises out of a misunderstanding, a false accusation, or a situation that got out of hand, an arrest and charge of domestic violence can be a traumatic and harrowing experience. Those who stand accused of assaulting a family member can quickly find their lives in turmoil, facing immediate consequences as well as long-term ones.
The choices you make and actions you take in the aftermath of a claimed incident of domestic violence will have a significant impact on your future. The wrong decisions or an ill-advised move can make a difficult situation even worse. Those are risks you can’t afford to take. If you are on the receiving end of a Texas domestic violence charge, it is essential that you retain an experienced domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible.
At the Law Office of Case J. Darwin, Inc., we understand what is at stake for those facing domestic violence charges. We also understand the steps that need to be taken to craft the strongest possible defense, identify and expose false accusations, and maximize the chances of obtaining an outcome that will return you to your family, career, and life.
What Is Domestic Violence in Texas?
There is no specific crime called “domestic violence” in Texas. Rather, domestic violence is part of a group of criminal charges referred to as “family violence.” Under the Texas criminal code, family violence includes physical violence, sexual assault, threats, emotional abuse, or harassment against a member of the accused’s household. This can be a spouse, child, boyfriend or girlfriend (even if not living together), or another individual who lives in the home.
Assault—Family violence is an assault against a person (1) in a dating relationship, (2) that is a family member, or (3) in a household (roommate). See Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 22.01(b)(2) (West 2018). Such offense is generally a Class A Misdemeanor, which carries a punishment range of up to 1 year in jail and a fine not to exceed $4,000. It can also carry an affirmative finding of family violence. If this occurs, you will be prohibited from legally possessing a firearm or ammunition for the rest of your life. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 42.0131 (West 2018).
If you have a prior conviction for an assault—family violence, you will then be charged with a third-degree felony based upon having a prior conviction. See Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 22.01(b)(2)(A) (West 2018). A third-degree felony carries a punishment range of 2 to 10 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
In many domestic violence cases, the judge will enter an emergency protective order or a “no contact” order that prohibits you from calling, texting, emailing, or approaching the alleged victim, among other limitations on your rights. You may also be barred from going to the home you share with the accuser, even if it is just to pick up some clothes or other personal items. If you violate any aspect of the court’s order, you could be charged with a separate criminal offense that could result in a hefty fine and up to a year in jail, in addition to the potential penalties of the underlying domestic violence charge.
Consequences of a Texas Domestic Violence Conviction
A domestic violence conviction can lead to the loss of much more than your reputation and relationships, even if no one was hurt and even for a first-time charge. A first-time domestic violence conviction can result in a fine of up to $4,000 and up to 12 months in jail. The penalties are even worse and sentences even longer for subsequent convictions or incidents that cause serious injury. On top of that, you can permanently lose your right to possess a firearm, have restricted custody rights or visitation with your children, or forfeit your professional license.
Accusers Can’t “Drop the Charges”
Many people charged with domestic violence mistakenly believe that if their accuser “drops the charges,” the matter will conclude and everything will be okay. Not so. While an accuser can certainly express the opinion that he or she does not want a case to proceed, only prosecutors can decide whether to dismiss a case. In many Texas counties, a “no drop policy” means that prosecutors will seek domestic violence convictions without exception.
Speak With a Texas Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Today
Don’t take chances with your future if you find yourself facing accusations or charges of domestic violence. It is critical that you get legal help from a trusted domestic abuse defense lawyer. At the Law Office of Case J. Darwin, we provide zealous, responsive, and effective defense representation for all Hays, Guadalupe, or Comal County domestic violence cases. We will listen to your story without judgment and work tirelessly to obtain the best outcome in your case. Call us today at (512) 357-3953 or contact us online to arrange for your free initial consultation with a family violence lawyer.