Domestic violence can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the specifics of the charges you face and whether you have been convicted of the same or similar offenses before. Keep reading to learn more about domestic violence offenses and penalties in Dallas. Find out what you can do to protect your rights if you are facing domestic violence charges.
Misdemeanor Penalties vs Felony Penalties
Domestic violence (called “family violence” in Texas) can include any number of behaviors, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, or the threat of any of the above. This is according to Texas Family Code §71.004.
For illustrative purposes, this section will focus on the crime of assault, which includes purposely harming or threatening to harm another person (in this case, a family member). Other charges work in similar ways, with penalties becoming stricter as the severity of the crime and/or the number of convictions increases.
Assault as a Misdemeanor
Some types of assault are categorized as misdemeanors. For example, threatening or intimidating another person is, in most cases, categorized as a Class C misdemeanor, according to Texas Penal Code §22. Per the Texas Politics Project, the potential penalty for a Class C misdemeanor conviction is a maximum fine of $500.
Assault as a Felony
The Penal Code also outlines that intentionally injuring a relative is a third-degree felony. The penalties associated with felony charges are much more stringent than those associated with misdemeanors. A third-degree felony may result in:
- A maximum fine of $10,000
- A maximum jail sentence of between 2 and 10 years
The Consequences of Conviction
As you can see, the punishments for family violence crimes vary widely and can affect you in numerous ways. Fines can cause you noticeable financial harm, especially if you are facing a felony charge.
A prison sentence can take you away from your job, your education, your friends, and your family for an extended period of time—and you may not be able to get all of those things back when you get out.
Having a conviction on your record can affect you on both a professional and a personal level. Employers may be reluctant to hire someone with a family violence conviction, and you may no longer have the right to own a gun or vote. That is in addition to the psychological effect of knowing that you have been convicted of such a serious crime.
Hiring a Lawyer to Defend You
Hiring legal representation is a good way to ensure that your civil rights are protected and that you do not inadvertently make any mistakes that undercut your defense. This is especially important with family violence cases. Due to the highly personal and intimate nature of the charges, you may find it particularly difficult to mount a strong defense if you do not have an attorney on your side.
Here is what a lawyer can do for you:
Investigate Your Charges
Why hire a lawyer to investigate when the police have already done so? Your lawyer will look for different kinds of evidence than the authorities. Specifically, they will comb through witness statements, surveillance footage, police reports, medical records, and more, all with the goals of:
- Discrediting the plaintiff’s story
- Introducing enough doubt in the jury’s minds that they must acquit you
- Proving police misconduct, if there was any
Help You Get Your Life Back
There are several ways a lawyer can fight for you. In some cases, they can try to convince a judge to reduce or dismiss the charges against you. Even a reduction in charges can be very beneficial to you, costing you less money in fees and less time in jail.
In other cases, they may have to go to court and present your case before a jury. Either way, your attorney will be there every step of the way, defending you and your rights however they can.
Address Your Legal Questions and Concerns
Not sure whether or not to accept a plea deal? Want someone to explain a legal term to you? Just call your lawyer and ask. One of their most important duties is to make sure you are as comfortable as possible with the legal process and what they are doing to secure your freedom.
Whether you have been charged with a domestic violence felony or misdemeanor, the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg would like to help. With over three decades of experience in all aspects of the law, Randy Isenberg has a broad understanding of how the legal system works and how to make it work in your favor. Give us a call at (214) 696-9253 to get started.