Houston Domestic Violence Attorney
In the state of Texas there are three different crimes that fall under domestic violence: domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family. Domestic violence – or family violence – cases present a unique set of challenges. Because the State is very serious about protecting people from repeat domestic abusers, the law is quite strict in this area. If you or a loved one is charged with family violence, it’s imperative to hire an experienced Houston domestic violence attorney as soon as possible.
An act of violence is considered domestic violence if it is committed against a family member, household member, or a person the offender is currently involved with or has been involved with romantically in the past, including:
- a current or former spouse
- a person with whom the offender has or has had an ongoing dating or romantic relationship
- the child of a current or former spouse
- a person with whom the offender has a child or children
- a foster child or foster parent of the offender
- any family member of the offender by blood, marriage, or adoption
- a housemate or other person with whom the offender lives
In the state of Texas, assault charges can result from something as seemingly minor as a threat of bodily harm to someone else, even if no weapon was involved. If you’re facing assault charges, contact Houston assault lawyer Paul Darrow for help. When these people are family members, the charge will be considered domestic assault. So while it is understood that disagreements between people can sometimes get out of hand and cause them to act in ways they would not otherwise, when such actions result in aggression and harm to others, legal action may be the result. In other words, under Texas law, an individual can be charged with assault even if no physical contact between parties actually occurs.
Additionally, according to Texas criminal law, assault can be charged if someone:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause any type of bodily injury to another person (including a spouse or other family member)
- Intentionally or knowingly have or cause physical contact with someone else in a way that the person knows or reasonably believes that the contact will be regarded as offensive or provocative
So not only can you be charged with assault for punching, kicking, choking, or otherwise harming someone during a fight, but if you simply poke a person in the chest, or just tell that person that you are going to beat them or harm them in any way, and that person has a reasonable fear that you are able and intentional about doing it, you can be charged with assault.
Aggravated Domestic Assault
In the state of Texas, you can be charged with aggravated assault if you knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause serious harm or bodily injury to another person. If you use or exhibit any kind of deadly weapon during an assault, it will also be considered an aggravated assault. If you commit an aggravated assault against a spouse, family member, or romantic partner, it will be considered aggravated domestic assault. The main difference here is that the bodily injury to the victim was serious. A person commits aggravated assault in the state of Texas if he or she:
- intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another person
- uses or exhibits a deadly weapon in the course of committing any assault crime, including threatening another person with bodily injury or engaging in any type of conduct that the victim likely will find offensive
So, if the aggressor commits an aggravated domestic assault with a deadly weapon and causes serious bodily injury to the victim, that crime will be considered a first degree felony. Any other aggravated domestic assault will be considered a second degree felony.
Continuous Violence Against the Family
In addition to being charged with assault, a person can be convicted of the crime of continuous violence against the family in the state of Texas if he commits two domestic assaults in a twelve month period of time. This can occur even if neither assault resulted in an arrest or conviction. Additionally, the two assaults don’t even have to have been committed against the same victim. This crime is considered a third degree felony in Texas.
Domestic violence crimes are punishable in the state as follows:
- Class A misdemeanor — up to one year in jail or a fine up to $4,000, or both
- 3rd degree felony — from 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
- 2nd degree felony — from 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- 1st degree felony — from 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
In addition, anyone convicted of simple assault in Texas can be required to pay restitution, which involves reimbursing the victim for any costs or expenses resulting from the assault crime, such as the cost of medical treatment, counseling, and repair or replacement of any damaged property.
Why do I Need a Houston Domestic Violence Lawyer?
At minimum, these cases are charged as class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. A prior conviction for another crime can increase the punishment minimum jail time. Additionally, a past conviction can be used to severely increase the penalty range in a future domestic violence case. Again, this is true even where a person successfully completes deferred adjudication probation. For instance, where the case involves domestic violence against a family member, it cannot later be sealed by a petition for non-disclosure. This means that, unlike with other offenses, a person who pleads guilty and successfully completes deferred adjudication probation can never overcome the domestic violence/family violence label. It will follow that person for life.
Once the federal courts are ready to make their case, they will move swiftly. It is important for you to contact an experienced Houston domestic violence attorney with experience in criminal law for help. Paul Darrow is a former prosecutor who understands how the systems works and brings a wealth of experience to his criminal defense practice. Paul knows how to get results for those he is defending. If you are facing charges of domestic violence, make sure you have the best defense team available. Call today at (713) 641-5300.