Being charged and convicted of assault can significantly and adversely impact one’s relationships, career, and livelihood. In particular, violent offenses that transpire between family members or other domestic relationships can come with harsh penalties.
District attorneys are very aggressive when prosecuting persons alleged to have committed family violence. They are unlikely to dismiss charges unless an attorney can demonstrate there is insufficient evidence to prove their case. If you have been arrested for domestic assault, consult with a Glenn Heights domestic violence lawyer at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg as soon as possible.
Assault, Family Violence, and Domestic Assault in Texas
According to Texas law, an assault occurs when a person “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly”:
- Causes bodily injury to another person.
- Threatens another person with imminent bodily harm.
- Causes physical contact with another when…the other will regard the contact as offensive…”
- Victims of these assaults can include spouses.
What Is Family Violence?
TX Family Code § 71.004 describes family violence as an act by a family or household member intended to cause physical or bodily injury or assault. It also includes child abuse, dating violence, and threats of violence that induce fear.
Family and household members include current or former spouses or romantic partners, co-parents, foster children, blood relatives, in-laws, adoptees, and home co-residents.
Common family violence crimes include:
- Domestic assault
- Aggravated domestic assault
- Continued violence against family and household members
- Violation of personal protection orders
Domestic assaults include illegal threats, wrongful confinement, kidnapping, and emotional abuse. Physical acts of domestic violence include hitting, punching, or kicking a family or household member. They also include attacking someone with a weapon and committing sexual abuse or assault.
Allegations, arrests, and criminal charges related to any form of domestic violence should be taken seriously. You should never try to handle the situation yourself if you have been arrested or charged with any of these crimes. Instead, you should seek the help of a domestic violence attorney who can advocate for you and pursue the best outcome possible.
Potential Legal Penalties and Consequences for Domestic Violence Convictions
Domestic assault comes with both misdemeanor and felony penalties:
Misdemeanor – Threats of harm or offensive contact are punishable by a fine of up to $500. Bodily injuries inflicted on a victim increase the penalty up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Felony – An assault involving bodily injury becomes a 3rd-degree felony if the defendant had any prior assault convictions or the offense included suffocation or strangulation. An offender with a 3rd-degree felony conviction is subjected to 2-10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
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In addition to possible jail time and costly fines, Texans convicted of domestic or family violence also must deal with a permanent criminal record which can significantly impact their future employment and educational opportunities.
Convicted persons are often required to undergo violence counseling or perform community service. They may also be mandated to cease contact with the victim and forfeit their right to bear arms or obtain a hunting license.
Unquestionably, domestic assault and family violence penalties can be severe and long-lasting. Therefore, if you are facing domestic violence charges, it is critical to retain an attorney who can build a solid defense for you.
Why You Need Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Services
Defense lawyers assist clients throughout the criminal justice process. For example, some clients retain legal counsel even before they are charged if they have reason to believe they soon will be. In these cases, the attorney may represent you during questioning by law enforcement to ensure you do not disclose incriminating information.
Criminal defense attorneys also attempt to have charges dropped based on insufficient evidence or procedure violation. For example, law enforcement must have probable cause before investigating an alleged crime scene and making an arrest. Therefore, if your attorney can show the officer did not, charges against you may be dismissed before trial.
Also, defendants may be detained before trial when arrested for a crime, but they can often be released if they post bail. A criminal defense lawyer will urge the court to reduce your bail amount or waive it entirely.
If the defendant is reasonably sure they will be found guilty, they may accept a plea bargain, an agreement to reduce the charges to a lesser offense or mitigate the sentence. Your lawyer can handle plea negotiations for a lighter punishment.
Defense attorneys also assist during a criminal trial. They will analyze the case, identify its strengths and weaknesses, and help you decide on a defense strategy. They will also advise you on the pros and cons of pleading guilty and can assist you with appealing your case if the verdict is not in your favor.
Defenses Against a Domestic Violence Indictment
Your defense attorney will be able to explore a variety of defenses against your domestic violence charge, including the following:
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The Alleged Assault Was Actually Self-Defense
Individuals accused of assault commonly use self-defense to justify their actions and counter assault charges. If you are a defendant, you must prove that you were threatened with illegal force or harm, there was no reasonable chance to retreat, and you responded by defending yourself proportionately. Moreover, the court must consider your response appropriate and not an overreaction.
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The Assault Was Not Intended
Your lawyer could seek to establish that the actions described as an assault were unintentional. However, if it can be argued that the incident resulted from your deliberate behavior, they will investigate and work to confirm your story is consistent with an accident.
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The Assault Did Not Occur
Your domestic violence defense attorney might be able to establish that no assault occurred and that you are being falsely accused. But unfortunately, such potentially inaccurate or dubious claims are sometimes tools used in child custody battles to allege that an individual is guilty of domestic violence.
In some cases, a lawyer might be able to convince the alleged victim to recant statements that incriminate you. But unfortunately, a district attorney may still choose to prosecute you even if your charges were based on erroneous or withdrawn accusations. This is why it is essential to get a defense attorney on your side as soon as possible.
Contact a Glenn Heights Domestic Violence Attorney Today
Our Glenn Heights domestic violence lawyers believe that every individual has the right to receive an expert defense, regardless of the crime in which they are charged. Contact the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg today for a free and confidential case evaluation.