Being convicted of domestic assault or violence can be devastating and severely impact your life and future. A guilty verdict can result in imprisonment, probation, and hefty fines. In addition, it can ruin your career and permanently affect your criminal record.
If you’ve been arrested for domestic violence, our team at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can help you navigate the criminal justice system, fight for your legal rights and freedom, and pursue an outcome conducive to your best interests.
What Is Domestic Violence in Texas? What Are the Penalties?
Domestic assault or family violence occurs when an individual “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” either (1) causes or threatens bodily injury to a family member, current or former household resident, or dating partner or (2) causes physical contact with the person the offender “knows or reasonably should know will find provocative or offensive.” Related offenses commonly include sexual assault and child abuse.
Domestic violence victims include family members related to the alleged offender by blood or affinity, such as current and former spouses, co-parents, and their natural or adoptive children. They also include siblings, roommates, and persons “with whom the actor has or has had a dating relationship.”
Texas law stipulates that a first-offense conviction of domestic assault involving bodily injury is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a $4,000 fine, and by federal law, the inability to own or carry a firearm. A Class C misdemeanor, which includes threats of bodily harm or offensive contact, is punishable by up to a $500 fine.
In addition, a domestic assault charge can be elevated to a third-degree felony for those with prior convictions for domestic or family violence.
Aggravated Domestic Assault and Violence Against the Family Charges
A person can be charged with aggravated domestic assault when a weapon is involved or if they inflict serious bodily injury upon a family member, household resident, or dating partner. This is a second-degree felony unless it causes severe bodily injury AND is committed with a deadly weapon. Then, the charge can be elevated to a first-degree felony punishable by 5-99 years or life in prison and a $10,000 fine.
If a person is believed to have committed two domestic assault crimes, any additional offense can be charged as a third-degree felony known as “continuous violence against the family,” even if they have not been arrested or convicted of the other crimes. A third-degree felony conviction subjects the offender to 2-10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Potential Defenses to a Domestic Assault Charge
In domestic assault or violence cases, the burden of proof is on the accuser. As the defendant, a prosecutor must demonstrate that you committed domestic assault or a related offense against a family or household member. To fight a conviction, your attorney will consider your recollection of the alleged incident(s) and thoroughly investigate your case to identify the best possible defense, which could include the following:
You Acted in Self-defense or the Defense of Another
By law, you are entitled to use appropriate measures to protect yourself from a physical attack, even if the person attacking you is a family or household member. This action is known as self-defense. Using force to defend another person is also justified if you reasonably believed you would have acted in self-defense if you had been the one under attack and your intervention was immediately necessary.
However, remember that you cannot assert self-defense if you instigated or escalated the events in question. For this reason, it is critical to be honest with your attorney about whether your actions were a reasonable and retaliative response to the accuser’s actions.
The Accuser’s Allegations Are False, or Their Story Is Inconsistent
There are a few reasons why a family or household member might falsely accuse you of assaulting them, but feelings of rage, bitterness, and jealousy are among the most common. Motives might include gaining leverage in a child custody case or divorce proceeding. An alleged victim may also be spiteful and seeking revenge for something else you did.
If your defense attorney can prove the alleged victim made false allegations, you might have the charges dropped or be granted an acquittal. One possible means to this end is to demonstrate that the accuser is being deceptive and identify inconsistencies or contradictions in their description of events.
You Have an Alibi
A verifiable alibi is one of the best ways to demonstrate you are not guilty of assault, as you have clear evidence you were somewhere else when the alleged victim claims you were committing a crime against them. For example, your alibi may be a person who can confirm you were with them when the assault was said to have occurred. Or perhaps a family or household member can testify that you were not involved in the alleged incident. If you and your attorney can establish a credible alibi, you may call the entire case against you into question.
Celina Domestic Violence Lawyer Near Me (214) 696-9253
There Is Insufficient Evidence
In some cases, the prosecution may not have sufficient evidence to present a compelling case against you. Your defense attorney will ensure that the prosecutor’s evidence is legitimate and contest any evidence that doesn’t seem to add up.
It is important to note that even if your accuser retracts their statements and tells the police or the prosecutor that their accusations are false, the state may continue pursuing charges against you. Still, much like inconsistencies in an accuser’s story threaten to destroy their credibility, a recanting of their initial accusations can undoubtedly work in your favor.
Schedule a Consultation With a Celina Domestic Violence Lawyer Today
If you’ve been arrested for a domestic violence charge, you should speak to a defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg to schedule a confidential case review to learn how we can defend you against criminal charges and work toward achieving the best possible outcome.