Domestic violence is a serious issue across the country. The laws get stricter and the penalties get harsher as time moves forward. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (https://ncadv.org/statistics), “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.”The stats equal to the fact that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of domestic violence resulting in severe physical violence being inflicted against them by their intimate partners at least once in their lifetimes.
Overview Of Domestic Violence Laws In Texas
As with most states, Texas takes all domestic violence cases very seriously. Domestic violence charges can be either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the situation. By Texas state law (http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.22.htm), a person can be charged with a 3rd-degree felony domestic violence charge if they are married to or in a relationship with the victim of any type of assault. The charges and penalties will be given based on the severity of each individual case.
A felony domestic violence charge can be one that haunts a person for the rest of their lives. The penalties for domestic violence convictions get worse if the defendant has been convicted of domestic violence in the past. Multiple domestic violence convictions can lead to more charges relating to habitually violent criminals.
According to the Texas Council On Family Violence (http://tcfv.org/resource-center/learn-the-facts/), “146 women were killed by a male intimate partner in 2016 in the state of Texas. In 2016, family violence organizations helped out more than 70,000 people in Texas. The statistics show that 1 out of 3 Texans will be forced to experience some type of domestic violence in their lifetimes.
Criminal Penalties For Domestic Violence In Texas
As with any assault charge, the penalties a person will face when convicted of domestic violence vary based on the severity of the assault. The least severe charge a domestic violence suspect could face is a class 3 misdemeanor that carries a fine with no mandatory jail time (usually given in cases of threats or cases with no bodily harm involved.) In cases of assault against an intimate partner, Texas law allows police to charge the suspects with a 3rd-degree felony charge. If a defendant is charged with a felony they could face 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
In many domestic violence cases, jail time may not be given to the person convicted. In a lot of domestic violence cases, the person convicted is given probation time and ordered by the court to complete counseling and treatment. The court may add marriage counseling, anger management classes or community service to the sentence. Sometimes, a person convicted can complete all of the requirements of probation and get adjudication withheld on the conviction. This means that the charges will be able to get cleared off of the person’s record after they complete the court ordered probation requirements.
Potential Defenses And Your Rights
In some domestic violence cases, a defense could be that the crime actually did not take place. Some domestic violence cases get dismissed due to false reporting. Other times the defense can claim that the defendant committed the alleged assault unintentionally or that they had lack of knowledge that they did it. In other situations, domestic violence charges can be dismissed in court if self-defense can be proven in the case. In the state of Texas, anyone is allowed to use physical force to avoid bodily injury to themselves. Self-defense can apply to some domestic violence cases. A lawyer experienced in domestic violence laws in Texas can help the defendant find the best possible defense in the case and will instruct the accused of the options they will be given in court.
Need A Lawyer In Austin, Texas?
Immediately after getting arrested, the person charged should get a lawyer to represent their case in court. There are many things that could happen with domestic violence charges such as restraining orders or child custody changes. A lawyer can help you throughout the entire process and make sure the case goes as smoothly as possible. The seriousness of domestic violence charges in Texas make it a bad idea to fight the law on your own without experienced legal representation.