True domestic violence is a serious problem. Unfortunately, so are false accusations and unjustified arrests. Police are trained that, if they’re called out on a disturbance call, someone’s going to jail.
This can be the case even when the “victim” does not wish to prosecute (or even when they say that nothing happened). Once the police are involved (as they say, “the state picks up the case”), things can get out of hand very fast without a knowledgeable Dallas domestic violence lawyer in your corner.
Domestic violence cases carry serious life-changing penalties such as lengthy prison sentences, hefty fines, and a permanent record.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DEFINITION:
Domestic violence may be the most commonly used term. However, Texas law uses the term “family violence” more commonly.
Family Violence covers offenses such as assault family violence and assault impeding breathing or circulation. Family violence includes violence against family members, household members, and between dating partners.
It can sometimes be helpful for a client to understand the terms surrounding your case so that you understand where this might put us in defending the case:
Household Member is a person who resides or has resided in the same home. This includes roommates.
Dating Violence is an act committed against a person with whom you have or have had a dating relationship. The act must be intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault. Dating violence can also include threats. However, the threat reasonably places the person in fear of imminent bodily injury.
Family Member includes people related by blood or marriage. It also includes former spouses and people who have a child or foster child together.
Dating Relationship is a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing romantic or intimate relationship.
Protective Order is a judge’s order that prevents you from having contact with a person. To grant a protective order, the judge must find that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again. A temporary protective order is for a short period of time. The accused person does not receive notice of a temporary protective order. A full protective order requires a hearing with notice to the accused person.
Domestic violence offense punishments:
Domestic violence offense punishments depend on the facts of the case. For example, courts consider issues like the person’s record, the injury, and the alleged victim’s input.
Here are some examples of punishments for a domestic violence case in Dallas:
- Class C Misdemeanor Domestic Assault – up to a $500 fine but no jail time. For example, Assault Contact/Family Violence.
- Class A Misdemeanor Assault Family Violence – up to 365 days (1 year) in the county jail and up to a $4,000.00 fine.
- Third-Degree Felony Assault Family Violence – 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. For example, assault family violence impeding breathing. Also, assault family violence with a prior finding of family violence.
- Second-Degree Felony Assault Family Violence – 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. For example, aggravated assault family violence.
- First-Degree Felony Domestic Assault – 5 to 99 years or up to life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. For example, aggravated assault family violence with a deadly weapon that causes serious bodily injury.
- Affirmative Finding of Family Violence – the judge can make a finding that family violence occurred in a case. An affirmative finding of family violence enhances any future family violence allegation to a felony (even minor class c ticket offenses become a felony). The finding also prevents you from owning or possessing a firearm. Perhaps most damaging long term, it also makes you ineligible for nondisclosure (record sealing).
When defending a domestic violence case, some of the things I look for or ask during a consultation are:
- A description of exactly what happened (what caused the incident and exactly what happened)
- What the allegations are, if you know what the accuser told police
- Who was present and witnessed the incident
- Possible motives for false accusations
Common Questions I get in Domestic Violence Cases:
- Am I likely to go to jail? This is usually people’s #1 question. Every case is different and I base my analysis and advice on your particular situation.
- How long will this case take from start to finish? This depends on the offense level and where in the process you are when you contact me. Usually, the police send their case file to the District Attorney’s office within a few days, but sometimes it can take weeks or months. If your case is a misdemeanor, it moves forward to court after the District Attorney’s office accepts it for prosecution. If it’s a felony, it must also be reviewed by the grand jury and be indicted before it goes to court. Once it goes to court, it usually takes several court settings for both sides to fully investigate and negotiate a possible resolution. If an agreed resolution can’t be reached, the case proceeds to trial which can take months or even a year-plus.
- What are the long-term consequences of a family violence case? A conviction can carry serious jail or prison time. An affirmative finding of family violence will leave a permanent mark on your record, making you ineligible for nondisclosure (case sealing) even if you successfully complete deferred probation and get your case dismissed. It’s a lot; you need an experienced Dallas domestic violence lawyer in your corner.
If you or someone you care about is facing a domestic violence allegation, a lot is at stake. You need someone in your corner that you can trust to guide you through the process, making sure that you thoroughly understand your case, your options, and ultimately what is best for you. Don’t delay, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Disclaimer: The information here is not legal advice. Reading this article does not create an attorney-client relationship with Dallas domestic violence lawyer Mike Howard. If you have a legal problem contact an attorney to get specific legal advice. Nothing on this blog is intended to be legal advice or a substitute for legal advice.