In Texas, crimes that involve family violence can come with much harsher penalties than the same types of violent actions committed against someone else. The law also has certain arrest and bail policies, as well as some firearms restrictions, that are meant to prevent future acts of family violence. Cases of Texas family violence are more common that people think. Crimes like these can be committed against spouses, dating partners, parents, and even children. That’s why you need to keep a level head when you’re in the middle of an emotionally charged situation. Regardless of the circumstances, domestic violence of any kind is a crime.
What is considered family violence in Texas?
Texas family violence is listed under Title 5, Chapter 22, Section 22:01 of the Texas Penal Code (Assaultive Offenses). It covers any violent actions committed against the following:
- Family members.
- Members of the household (including foster children).
- Current or past dating partners.
To commit an act of family violence, you must have:
- Knowingly or intentionally caused injury to a protected person.
- Knowingly or intentionally threatened to injure a person.
- Knowingly or intentionally engaged in physical contact that the person found offensive, provocative, or threatening.
The important component is “knowingly” or “intentionally.” So for it be considered an act of domestic violence, you must have known that it would cause physical harm to that person. This is the main difference between an accident and an act of family violence. The law also considers any “reckless” behavior to be an act of family violence, which is any kind of behavior that you engaged in without thinking about the potential outcome (such as the possibility that the other person may get hurt).
What are the penalties for family violence in Texas?
The classification for crimes of Texas family violence can range from a Class C Misdemeanor to a First-Degree Felony. These crimes can also include assault and battery as well as kidnapping, sexual assault, and unlawful confinement. These kinds of charges make family violence one of the most severe crimes listed under Texas Law.
The charges you receive will depend on the following factors:
- Your relationship with the person in question.
- Past behavior or convictions.
- Type of abuse involved (more severe penalties for strangulation and suffocation).
The penalties will depend on the charge and can include the following:
- Class A Misdemeanor – Maximum of 12 months in jail and maximum fine of $4,000.
- Third-Degree Felony – 2-10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- Second-Degree Felony – 2-20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- First-Degree Felony – 5-99 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
A conviction will also become part of your criminal record, which will affect your ability to vote and find a job. If the charges included a sexual offense and you get convicted, you may have to register as a sex offender.
Can I defend myself if I’m charged with family violence in Texas?
You can defend yourself against charges related to Texas family violence, but the law isn’t entirely clear on the details. The State of Texas considers acts of family violence and domestic abuse to be crimes, but it’s more than just a matter of “he-said, she-said.” It’s up to the state and the police to decide if there’s a case and whether it’s winnable. If you have been arrested and charged with family violence in Texas, you need to know your rights because it can help you to come up with a legal defense.
Some of the common defenses for people who are facing a family violence charge in Texas include, but may not be limited to:
- False allegations.
- Lack of proof.
- Investigative errors.
- Arrest errors.
These defenses can protect you if you have been accused of family violence or any kind of assault charge in the State of Texas. It can also give you a good defense if you’re in a situation where your abuser is using the law to victimize you even further. In fact, these kinds of protections are common in many abuse cases.
What can I do if I have been falsely accused of family violence in Texas?
This is more common than most people realize. Contested divorces and custody battles can bring out the worst in people, and making up abuse allegations against a spouse or family member isn’t that unusual when people are desperate or are caught up in an emotional situation. Even if that’s the case, lying about the actions of another person can get you in a lot of legal trouble.
The police will take all family violence allegations seriously. There will also be an investigation, where all involved parties will be questioned. Charges will be filed based on what they have found. If investigators have determined that a false report was made, the accuser can be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor (which is punishable with up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000). Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to pursue a civil case against the accuser.
If you have been accused of family violence and are looking for the best criminal defense attorney in Corpus Christi to help you with your case, be sure to get in touch with Gale Law Group.