What is Domestic Violence in Texas?

Domestic violence, also known as family violence in Texas, is defined as an assault committed against a family or household member.  Assault is defined as intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person.  If that person is a family member, a partner, a spouse, or even lives in the same household as your (roommate), you could be charged with Domestic Violence in Texas.  Assault could include more serious allegations, such as sexual assault, or a felony assault, such as aggravated assault with a deadly weapon or strangulation. A domestic violence charge can result in serious consequences, including jail time and the loss of other rights.

If you are facing a domestic violence charge, you need the help of our experienced Austin domestic violence defense attorney at the Law Office of Jorge Vela. Jorge Vela can provide you with a successful defense and help you protect your rights. There is too much at stake to navigate the Texas legal system alone.


What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Texas?

As discussed above, Texas defines domestic violence as any type of assault against a family member, a spouse, a partner, someone you are in a romantic relationship with, a child, or even a roommate. Domestic violence can also consist of simply the threat of violence that places a family or household member in fear of bodily injury or death. Domestic violence in Texas can take several forms, including the following:

  • An act: An action that results in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault
  • A threat: The risk of physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault
  • Dating violence: An act committed against a person with whom you have, or had, a dating relationship

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, there were more than 197,000 incidents of family violence in 2018. The high number of domestic violence cases in Texas may be a result of the crime’s broad definition. Some of these family violence claims may have been the result of heated family disputes rather than actual intentions of harm, thus demonstrating the accused’s need for a skilled domestic violence defense lawyer.

Who Is Considered Family in Texas?

It is important to know that in Texas, a family member is not just defined as someone related to you by blood. Legally, many relationships are covered under the state’s domestic violence laws. These relationships include:

  • Spouses, legally or through common law, including exes
  • Parents, including in-laws
  • Children, including stepchildren and foster children
  • Grandparents
  • Siblings, including step-siblings
  • Roommates
  • Intimate partners

If you have been accused by one of these individuals of abuse and have been charged with domestic violence, you need the help of a domestic violence defense lawyer. Because Texas prosecutors take every accusation of family abuse seriously, you need a strong defense. It is not wise to hold your fate in your own hands.

What is an Emergency Protective Order?

In Texas, victims of domestic violence can apply for an emergency protective order from the court. An emergency protective order demands that individuals accused of family violence stay away from their alleged victims for 31 to 91 days. This period gives a victim time to make a plan to get away from their alleged abuser.


Emergency protective orders are enforceable in criminal court. If you violate an emergency protective order, you could face additional charges.  Furthermore, it may be difficult to get you out on bond if you are accused of violating a protective order.

If you have had an emergency protective order filed against you, some of the conditions the court may impose against you include: you are unable to harm the person claiming to be your victim, you are forbidden from communicating with them or anyone else in their household, and may not go within 200 yards of their residence, workplace, or school. Further, most protective orders forbid you from owning firearms while the order is in place.

How to Get a Protective Order Removed

If you have had an emergency protective order filed against you, we can help to have it removed. Because the procedures to have an emergency protective order dropped are complex, it is recommended that you retain legal counsel to assist you. Typically, your domestic violence defense attorneys will take the following steps to have your emergency protective order removed:

  • We will meet with the alleged victim.
  • We will obtain an affidavit from the victim stating they wish for their charges against you to be dropped.
  • We will file a motion to modify or dismiss the protective order.
  • We will correspond with the prosecutor on your behalf.
  • We will appear at a hearing to have the emergency protective order dismissed.
  • We will appeal a decision that rejects the motion to dismiss the protective order against you if necessary.

An emergency protective order may keep you from having contact with your children. After an emergency protective order is put in place, your alleged victim may request a long-term protective order. Whether short- or long-term, it is important to retain help to have a protective order against you removed.

What are the Consequences of Being Charged with Domestic Violence?

If you are charged with domestic violence in Texas, you can face serious consequences. If you have been charged with domestic violence for the first time, it is considered a class A misdemeanor, and you can be punished with up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. If you are accused again, the charge is escalated to a third-degree felony, punishable by two to ten years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

If you have been charged with sexual assault of a family or household member, it is classified as a second-degree felony. Such crimes are punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and up to a $10,000 fine. Of course, any of these convictions will be permanently placed on your criminal record, leading to additional consequences that can last throughout your life, such as the following:

The Right to Possess a Firearm

If you are convicted of a family violence felony in Texas, you are forbidden from possessing a firearm for five years after your conviction is disposed of. After those five years, you may only possess a firearm in your own home. If you are convicted of a domestic violence felony or misdemeanor, you cannot apply for a License to Carry a Handgun (LTC), and if you already have one, it will be suspended.

Holding an Occupational License

If you are convicted of a family violence charge above a class C misdemeanor, your occupational license can be revoked or suspended. Further, any new or renewal license applications can be denied. You must give a record of your criminal history every time you apply for a new or renewed occupational license.

Right to Visitation with Your Children

In addition to losing certain rights and violations of your privacy after a domestic violence conviction in Texas, you can also be forbidden from having contact with your children or be ordered to pay spousal support in a divorce proceeding. You may also be ordered to undergo substance abuse evaluations and participate in domestic violence programs. The consequences of being charged with domestic violence in Texas can be long-lasting and severe.

Possible Impacts of a Domestic Violence Charge on an Undocumented Individual

Undocumented individuals who are charged with domestic violence in Texas face additional serious consequences. Under Federal law, non-citizens of the United States who are convicted of domestic violence can be deported. You can also face deportation if you violate a protective order.

Deportation in itself has inherent consequences. If you are deported, you will be barred from returning to the United States for a specific number of years, potentially forever. Additionally, your family will likely face negative financial, emotional, and health effects as a result of your deportation.

A Brief Overview of Domestic Violence in Texas

Family violence in Texas is taken seriously and can have long-term consequences. Texas law is complex when it comes to who and what is covered under its family violence laws. State laws specify serious penalties for domestic violence charges. If you have been charged with family violence in Texas, it is important that you consult with our domestic violence defense lawyer at The Law Office of Jorge Vela. Jorge Vela is a former prosecutor and knows what evidence is needed to help you fight your family violence charge. Contact the Law Office of Jorge Vela today for a consultation regarding how to get your peace of mind back after a domestic violence charge.

Jorge Vela

Jorge Vela

Jorge Vela is a seasoned attorney with experience in both prosecution and defense. A graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of Texas School of Law, he has served as a felony prosecutor in Webb County and an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Texas. In 2017, he worked as an Assistant District Attorney for Travis County. Since 2018, Jorge has been a criminal defense attorney, leveraging his extensive experience to protect the rights of individuals accused of a crime through his practice, the Law Office of Jorge Vela.

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