Being accused of domestic violence can change a person's life. Anyone falsely accused of domestic violence in Texas can feel like they've already been found guilty even if they did not do anything wrong. The police, prosecutors, and even family members may not believe the accused. It is important to fight back against these charges with the help of an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer.
If you were arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, talk to your experienced Odessa criminal defense lawyer about your rights, legal defenses, and how your lawyer will fight the criminal charges against you.
Domestic Violence Laws in Texas
Domestic violence can include assault against a family member or continuous violence against the family. A conviction for domestic violence can result in jail time, fines, and the loss of the right to purchase or own a firearm.
Who is Included in Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence involves a certain relationship between the alleged victim and perpetrator. In order to qualify as domestic violence, the people involved generally have to have the following types of relationships:
- Dating relationship;
- Blood relatives (mother, father, sister, brother, child, parent, etc, including adopted children/parents);
- Married couples;
- Former spouses;
- Relatives through marriage;
- Individuals who are parents of the same child;
- Individuals who are foster parents of the same foster child; or
- Persons living in the same household.
Under Texas Penal Code Section 22.01, assault against a family member, dating partner, or household member is like regular assault. However, there may be greater penalties if the domestic assault involved choking or strangulation, or if there is a prior conviction for domestic violence. Under Texas law, assault includes:
- intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person;
- intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily injury; or
- intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another that the offender knows or reasonably should know the victim will find provocative or offensive.
Aggravated Domestic Assault
Under Texas Penal Code Section 22.02, aggravated assault is assault that involves:
- intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing serious bodily injury to another person; or
- using or exhibiting a deadly weapon in the course of committing any assault crime, including threatening another with bodily injury or engaging in conduct that the victim likely will find offensive.
Continuous Violence Against the Family
Under Texas Penal Code Section 25.11, continuous violence against the family involves two or more domestic assault incidents within a 12 month period. These incidents involve conduct that would constitute assault.
Domestic Violence Penalties in Texas
The penalties for domestic violence in Texas depend on the type of assault or injury and domestic violence history.
Misdemeanor Domestic Violence
A first-time simple assault for intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to a family member, household member, or dating partner can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor conviction can include jail for up to 1 year and a fine of up to $4,000.
Felony Domestic Violence
Assault against a family member, household member, or dating partner with a prior domestic violence conviction can be charged as a Third-Degree felony.
Assault against a family member, household member, or dating partner that involves choking, suffocating, or strangling is also a felony in the third degree, even without a prior abuse record.
Continuous violence against the family, with multiple assaults within a one-year period, is a Third-Degree felony.
The penalties for a Third-Degree felony conviction can include up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravated assault against a family member, household member, or dating partner with the use of a deadly weapon or causing serious bodily injury is a felony in the first degree. The penalties for a First-Degree felony conviction can include up to 99 years in prison or life imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
Domestic Violence Defenses
Domestic violence involves people in close relationships that can get tense and heated over repeated verbal or emotional abuse, concerns over money, jealousy, or infidelity. This can cause some people to react through violence. However, it can also cause people to make up stories of domestic violence to punish or get back at the other person. Reasons people have for fabricating these assaults may include:
- Divorce or separation;
- Custody disputes;
- Jealousy over a new partner;
- Cheating or infidelity; or
- Family members that do not approve of the relationship.
Just because a family member or dating partner accuses you of domestic violence does not mean that you are guilty. There are a number of legal defenses to challenge the criminal case and get the charges dropped, reduced, or get a finding of not guilty by the jury.
The defenses available will depend on the individual facts of your case. Your Texas criminal defense lawyer will investigate your case, review the evidence, including police reports or medical records, talk to witnesses, and possibly have medical experts review your case to identify the best possible defenses. Possible defenses in a domestic violence case may include:
- Defense of children;
- Defense of others;
- The alleged victim was the aggressor;
- The alleged victim staged the injuries;
- The victim was not a family member, dating partner, or in the same household;
- The injuries were self-inflicted; or
- Injuries were accidentally caused.
Your attorney may also be able to challenge the evidence gathered by the police or prosecutor. If the police violated your rights against unlawful search or seizure in gathering evidence, that evidence may be able to be excluded from trial.
Odessa Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
An experienced Odessa criminal defense attorney can help you build a defense that gives you the best shot at a favorable outcome, including challenging the evidence and testimony of the alleged victim or witnesses. If you've been charged with domestic assault in Odessa, Texas, the Law Office of E. Jason Leach, PLLC is here to fight for you.
E. Jason Leach is a Board Certified criminal defense attorney that has dedicated his law practice to defending the accused. To set up a free consultation, contact the Law Office of E. Jason Leach today at (432) 552-7000.