Domestic Violence in Texas
According to Texas Family Code section 71.004, domestic violence or family violence is defined as an act by a family or household member against another family or household member intended to cause bodily injury, physical harm, sexual assault, or puts the victim in fear of imminent harm or danger. Texas law recognizes a household or family member as:
- A family member of the defendant related by marriage, blood, or adoption
- A former or current spouse
- A child of a former or current spouse
- Someone with whom the defendant has a child
- A foster parent or foster child of the defendant
- A person living with the defendant
- A person who previously lived in the household
- A current or former dating partner
Additionally, domestic violence may be divided into the following categories:
- Domestic Assault
- Aggravated Domestic Assault
- Continuous Violence against The Family (two domestic assaults within twelve months)
General Provisions of the Law
Pursuant to Texas Penal Code Section 22.01(a), a person commits an assault offense when he or she intentionally or recklessly:
- Causes bodily injury to another person
- Threatens another person or the person's spouse with potential bodily injury or harm
- Causes physical contact with another person who will find it provocative or offensive
Proving Domestic Violence
To prove domestic violence, the prosecuting attorney must:
- Prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender acted intentionally
- Provide actual evidence of bodily harm or injury to the victim to show that the offender's actions were careless and harmed or injured the victim
Domestic Violence Penalties
In the state of Texas, the charges and possible punishment for domestic violence largely depend on the degree of harm, bodily injury, or threat to the victim and other surrounding circumstances, such as prior criminal history or family violence conviction. If convicted, the possible penalties and consequences include:
- Class C Misdemeanor: This is a domestic assault offense where the victim suffered no injury or harm. Punishable by a maximum fine of up to $500.
- Class A Misdemeanor: Punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both.
- Third-Degree Felony: Punishable by between two and 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- Second-Degree Felony: Punishable by between two and 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- First-Degree Felony: This is an aggravated domestic assault. Punishable by five to 99 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Other Potential Consequences:
- Loss of custody rights or parenting privileges
- Loss of the right to own or purchase firearms
- Inability to obtain a hunting or fishing license in the state
- Compulsory anger management classes
- Consequences in divorce and child custody
- Jeopardizing current or future employment
- A domestic violence restraining or protective order
- Possible deportation
- A permanent criminal record
When facing family violence allegations, your attorney may use any of the following to build your defense:
- No offense occurred
- False allegations
- Lack of intent
- Lack of knowledge
- Errors made during the investigation
- Irregularities in the evidence
- Lack of proof
- The violence occurred as a result of the other party's actions or behavior
An experienced criminal defense attorney can move swiftly to pursue a more favorable outcome.
Hire an Experienced Attorney
When charged with domestic violence, trying to defend yourself against those allegations without proper guidance or representation can expose you to the increased likelihood of being convicted and receiving the maximum penalties. Therefore, it is important to have the right legal defense strategy that fits your specific situation when facing domestic violence allegations.
Attorney Tom Cox has devoted his career to defending the rights of individuals facing charges of family violence and domestic assault. As a knowledgeable Texas criminal defense attorney, Tom Cox will review every facet of your personal situation, conduct a comprehensive investigation, and outline an effective defense strategy for your case. He will fight aggressively to defend your rights.