Under Texas law, if you commit an assault against a family member, a partner in a dating relationship, or even someone that resides in the same household, it can lead to charges of domestic/family violence. Domestic/Family assaults are treated more severely than assaults against strangers.
If a Court finds that you committed an act of domestic/family violence, not only could you face more jail time, but you could also lose certain civil rights, such as the right to posses a firearm.
Punishments for Family/Domestic Violence
Domestic Assault (Texas Penal Code §22.01(b)(2)):
A person commits the offense of assault when they intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person. Assault can also include a threat of imminent bodily harm or causing contact when the accused should have reason to believe the contact will be offensive.
When an assault is allegedly committed against a family or household member, or a person with whom the accused is in a dating relationship, then it falls under family violence or domestic assault. A first offense will be a Class A misdemeanor, like any other assault. However, the second offense of family violence is a third-degree felony.
If during the commission of an assault, a person use or exhibits a deadly weapon, or causes serious bodily injury to another, that person may be charged with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony.
Assault by Strangulation (Texas Penal Code §22.01(b)(2)(B)):
An assault during which the accused is alleged to have applied pressure on the family or household member’s throat or neck or blocked his or her nose or mouth could result in stiffer penalties. These charges are usually listed as “impede breath/circulation” of another.
A first charge is a third-degree felony. If you have any prior convictions for domestic assault, then the charges are a second-degree felony.
Civil Penalties in Domestic/Family Violence cases
If there is a finding of family violence in a criminal case it could affect your civil rights in later proceedings. This includes the right to visit your children and the right to bear a firearm.
An alleged victim may file a Protective Order (restraining order) as part of the criminal case. See below for more information.
Jorge Vela fight
The State of Texas takes all cases of domestic/family violence very seriously. However, in some cases, a simple marital dispute or heated argument can lead to an unintentional arrest. Many times, a complaining victim may want to withdraw allegations or charges.
Your attorney can reach out to alleged victims and witnesses in order to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with the charges. Depending on the facts of the case, your attorney may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed if the victim does not wish to proceed. The decision to continue prosecution, even after a victim withdraws charges, rests solely on the prosecutor. Therefore, you need an attorney to negotiate on your behalf.
Jorge Vela spent seven years as a prosecutor. As your attorney, he can negotiate directly with the District Attorney's Office in order to help fight your charges.
Protective Order Hearing
After accusations of domestic assault, the victim or the police may apply for a protective order from the court. This type of final protective order requires that a hearing be scheduled and that the accused have the opportunity to contest the protective order.
You can be represented by an Austin criminal defense lawyer at this hearing. Make sure you hire an attorney who knows how to handle your case. Jorge Vela has experience defending individuals in protective order hearings. Contact the Law Office of Jorge Vela to schedule a free consultation today.
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505 W. 12th Street, Suite 200
Austin, Texas 78701