Domestic violence is a significant issue in the United States. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than a third of women and a quarter of men encounter domestic violence at some point in their lives. For the accused offender, the consequences can range from inconvenient to life changing. Someone who has been accused of domestic violence in Texas may want to learn about potential domestic violence defense strategies. If you are facing domestic violence charges, consider contacting a seasoned criminal defense attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, by calling (512) 454-7548 to learn more about your legal rights.
Understanding Domestic Violence Laws in Texas
In the state of Texas, domestic violence is also known as family violence. This offense can be committed against a number of different people. According to the Texas Family Code, family violence occurs when:
- A family member or a member of the household commits a violent act against another household or family member to cause assault, physical harm, bodily injury, or sexual assault. Family violence also occurs if the household or family member fears that one of these violent acts may imminently take place
- A family member or a member of the household abuses a child who is part of the household or family
- A violent act takes place between two people who are dating
While family violence often involves spouses or individuals who are dating, it can also occur in any of the following relationships:
- Former partners or spouses
- Any individual living in the home
- Children of current and former partners
- Family members related by marriage or blood
- Foster children or parents
Types of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence in Texas can be either a felony or misdemeanor offense. A domestic violence charge may become a felony if the accused previously committed a family violence offense or if the criminal act involves strangulation. The three types of domestic violence in Texas include the following:
- Threat of family violence assault—This misdemeanor is a class C offense that carries a $500 fine and no jail time
- Family violence assault—This misdemeanor is a class A offense that carries a maximum fine of $4,000 and a year in jail
- Family violence assault or family violence assault by strangulation—This felony offense carries a jail sentence between three and 10 years and a maximum fine of $10,000
Examples of Family Violence Defenses in Texas
A good defense is especially important in domestic violence cases, which can be quite complex. The following are some examples of family violence defenses in Texas:
- Lack of evidence
- False accusations
Lack of Evidence
In family violence cases, most of the evidence consists of statements from the accuser and any witnesses. While violent acts may sometimes occur during conflicts between family members or members of the same household, many of these incidents only result in heated arguments, which will not constitute a family violence offense. Due to this, the accused may be able to contest the prosecution's version of the event.
The prosecution has the responsibility of proving that the incident occurred according to the accuser's account. This involves proving beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused committed a crime. A skilled lawyer can look for inconsistencies with the prosecution's case and demonstrate that the prosecution has failed to meet the burden of proof required to secure a conviction.
False accusations are common in domestic violence incidents. Occasionally, one spouse or partner may make such accusations when going through a divorce or child custody battle in an attempt to improve his or her position in the legal proceedings. A father who wants sole custody of the children, for example, might make a misleading family violence claim to support his case.
To successfully defend a false family violence accusation, the accused must take an effective course of action, which involves finding issues with the complainant's version of events. The accused may do this before the trial by examining the police reports and checking the witness statements. Additionally, the complainant may be questioned during the trial to ascertain whether he or she is telling the truth.
Often, during a domestic violence incident, both parties may commit acts of violence. As a result, police officers may find it challenging to determine who committed the family violence offense and who was responding in self-defense. All states, including Texas, recognize self-defense rights, which state that people may defend themselves to prevent injuries or death. This means that individuals can use reasonable force for self-defense when another person is trying to harm them. To use this defense, the accused must demonstrate that he or she was in immediate danger and that the use of force was essential. This defense is often challenging to use. A skilled criminal defense attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, can help to determine the most effective domestic violence defense to use in your case.
Is It Possible To Reduce a Family Violence Charge?
In some circumstances, it is possible to reduce a family violence charge to disorderly conduct. Such a decision will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. If the charges are reduced, a disorderly conduct charge might not necessarily be a misdemeanor. In addition, the accused injures the accuser, a reduction in charges may be more difficult to achieve.
Contact a Domestic Violence Attorney for Help Today
If a person is convicted of a domestic violence offense, the conviction can have significant consequences for the accused and his or her family. A seasoned domestic violence attorney may be able to help deal with a domestic violence accusation. An effective defense attorney will create a strong domestic violence defense for his or her client by gathering all the evidence and applying the most appropriate defense strategies to the unique case. If you have been accused of domestic violence, consider contacting at experienced criminal defense attorney from Jason S. English Law, PLLC, by calling (512) 454-7548 to learn more about your legal rights and to schedule a consultation.