What Constitutes Domestic Violence In Houston, Texas?
Under the Texas Penal Code, there are three different domestic violence crimes: domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family.
Domestic violence in Texas means an assault against a family member, household member, or a current or past dating partner.
Domestic assault includes:
- intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury to another, or
- intentionally threatening another with imminent bodily injury, or
- intentionally causing physical contact with another that the victim reasonably finds provocative or offensive.
Under the Texas Family Code, family violence is defined as an act by a member of a family or household against another member intended to cause physical harm or injury or is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm. This type of violence or threatened violence can be addressed by a domestic violence protective order preventing contact with victims.
Depending on the circumstances and the charge, domestic violence criminal convictions can carry maximum sentences ranging from one year up to 99 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
How Domestic Violence Is Prosecuted In Texas
Assault cases are dealt with as domestic violence cases when an assault is committed against a defined domestic victim. Domestic victims include by legal definition current or former spouses, children of current or former spouses, any person with whom the offender has a child or children, foster children or foster parents, family members by blood, marriage, or adoption, roommates, or any member of a current or former dating or romantic relationship.
Domestic assault charges are enhanced for repeat offenses, offenses involving choking or strangling, offenses involving weapons, and offenses involving serious physical injury.
Continuous violence against the family is the crime committed when a defendant repeats separate acts of domestic assault against victims in the same family or household two or more times in a twelve month period.
Are There Defenses To Domestic Violence Charges?
Self-defense is a defense to a charge of domestic violence. A defendant bears the burden of showing that any alleged act of violence was only undertaken after an initial act of violence against the defendant and that the defensive act was reasonable.
A petition for a domestic violence protective order where no actual violence has occurred can be defended under similar circumstances, or by showing that the petitioner was not reasonably in fear of an act of violence. Contact with the defendant following the filing of the petition or acts inconsistent with being afraid of the defendant can be effective in defending these types of cases.
What Type Of Penalties Do I Face If Convicted?
A wide range of possible penalties for domestic violence applies, depending on the severity of the charge of which a defendant is convicted.
A conviction of first offense domestic assault carries a maximum sentence of one year and a fine of up to $4,000.
Domestic assault involving choking or strangling, second offense domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family all carry a sentence of two years to 10 years and a maximum fine of $10,000. A second offense domestic violence conviction involving choking or strangling carries a sentence of two years to 20 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Aggravated domestic assault includes the use of a weapon and actual serious bodily harm to a victim. This crime carries a sentence of five years up to 99 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Under the Texas Family Code, a domestic protective order can be entered prohibiting a defendant from having contact with victims or other family members except as permitted by order of the court.
Conviction of any of these crimes or entry of a domestic protective order also will result in a loss of the right to possess weapons including any firearms a defendant already owns.
Contact An Experienced Houston Trial Attorney If You Are Facing A Domestic Violence Case
Texas prosecutors take domestic crimes very seriously and are aggressive in prosecuting these cases. Defendants in these cases need immediate and competent legal counsel to protect their rights.
f you’ve been accused of or arrested for domestic violence in Texas, contact the Law Firm of Aaron W. Perry, PLLC. The law in this area is complex and has multiple layers of elements and penalties. We will help you understand and defend the case in order to obtain the best possible outcome.
You can reach us by phone at (713) 393-7788 or via our online contact form.