FAQs ABOUT FAMILY VIOLENCE

DALLAS, TEXAS FAMILY VIOLENCE LAWYERS

Over the years our experienced family violence lawyers of Dallas, Texas have helped clients answer their questions about family violence criminal offenses. State of Texas has complicated criminal justice system that needs the understanding of a knowledgeable legal professional. We answer questions related to family and domestic violence for our clients every day, and we are here for you to consult your case with us. Our lawyers are available for a FREE CONSULTATION to discuss your case with you. You can schedule a FREE CONSULTATION with our family and domestic violence attorneys by calling 972.789.1664, emailing contact@dallasarealaw.com, or filling out the form on this page.

 

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about family and domestic violence issues and Texas laws:

 

What is domestic violence?

The use of physical, sexual, economic and/or psychological abuse by an intimate partner or family member to control the actions of another is considered domestic violence. In Texas, domestic violence crimes include behaviors such as constitute assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual behavior, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment and any other criminal offenses that end up in physical injury or death.

 

Can I be arrested for domestic abuse if the injury is minor?

This answer is yes. Even if there was a threat of violence you may be held responsible in a domestic violence case. The severity of the injury may, however, influence the specific charge brought against you.

 

What if the alleged victim wasn't actually injured?

Under the law, the alleged victim does not need to be actually injured in an assault case. Verbal threats or offensive physical contact that does not cause physical pain can still be considered as class C assault by contact under Texas law. This type of lesser assault can be equivalent to a traffic violation ticket except for the fact that you can be charged and prosecuted as a third degree felony in the event you have had previous family violence convictions. It is important to understand that physical contact that does cause pain but does not leave marks qualify as "bodily injury" under Texas law. Assault with bodily injury is a Class A misdemeanor and can be punishable by up to one year in the count jail with a fine of up to $4,000.

 

If the person believes he or she made a mistake when they called the police, can they have the domestic violence charges dropped?

No. The victim is not in charge of making the decision of the charge, the prosecutor is. Domestic violence victims commonly withdraw statements made to the police. Often, victims are pressured into changing their stories and end up getting abused again. In order to protect victims, the prosecutor will generally file the charges if there is enough evidence of domestic abuse regardless if the victim changes his or her story.

 

What are "conditions of bond" in family violence assault cases?

Generally speaking, terms of bond are things that a defendant must agree to do or not do to be released from while the offender's case is pending. For example, every bond has the condition to appear in court. Bond conditions in some family violence cases mandate the defendant to stay away from home in which the alleged victim resides, as well as their work place. Another common bond condition in family violence cases is to get an evaluation form and follow its recommendations. The family violence assessment fee is $55. The evaluation takes two hours and it may include substance abuse counseling or the Batterer Intervention Program.

 

What is the penalty for domestic violence crime?

There are many factors that are accounted for to determine the penalty for a domestic violence crime. These factors include: laws of jurisdiction, the severity of the act, whether previous offenses have occurred, and whether the victim was injured. If it is a first-time offense, then offenders are usually placed on probation, serve a few days in custody, perform community service, or complete a counseling program. Many jurisdictions have been taking aggressive actions against domestic violence crimes, which means an offender could seek jail time for their first offence without serious injury. Other punishments may include serious fines, domestic violence counseling, restitution and anger management classes. Serious offenses such as rape and murder, the offender may seek life in jail or even the death penalty.

 

What are the collateral consequences of a family violence conviction?

The government views the assault of a family a more serious crime than an assault of a stranger. A judge may issue an emergency protective order in family violence cases that prohibit the defendant from returning to their homes and even any interaction with their children. In the case children were present at the time of the incident, then Child Protective Services may also want to investigate. In divorce court, a family violence conviction can be used to deny child custody as well as limit visitation rights. A family violence conviction can permanently take away your right to possess a fire arm. If you hold a job in the military, you may be discharged or if you work in law enforcement, you may be reassigned or fired.

 

You may lose your professional license if convicted of a family violence conviction or if you a skilled tradesman, you may lose the chance to be bonded. This type of conviction will be on your criminal record and will show up in pre-employment and pre-leasing background checks. If you are not a citizen, then you may be denied a green card or deported and denied re-entry.

 

What type of counseling could I be required to attend?

Counseling for batterers typically involve to counseling for anger management to understand the reasons for their violent behavior and learn how to resolve issues without using violence. The court will monitor your attendance and reinstate a suspended jail sentence if the offender skips counseling sessions. Offenders usually have to pay out of their own pocket for court-ordered counseling sessions. If you are involved in a case that also includes alcohol or drugs, the court may also require you to attend alcohol and drug treatment programs.

 

What is the role of victim services counselors?

Victim services counselors are a special type of social worker. They focus on helping crime victims recover and protect their rights. They offer many different types of assistance such as helping alleged victim apply for compensation from the Crime Victim's Compensation Program. This helps the alleged victim get over a fear of testifying and helping with travel arrangements when the alleged victim must appear in court.

 

What do I do if domestic violence charges are filed against me?

You should contact an attorney immediately if you have been arrested for domestic violence. It would be wise to get the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. Contacting an attorney early enough in the case could allow for the attorney to arrange bail or have the charges dropped altogether.

 

Do I have to testify at trial?

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you have the right under the U.S. and Texas Constitution to choose whether or not you want to testify. In these types of cases, the traditional spousal immunity or spousal privilege is not applicable, which means that the government can force you to testify against your spouse.

 

What if the alleged victim is not actually a family member?

Texas law will still allow prosecutors to seek a "family violence" conviction even if the alleged victim is not a blood relative or not ordinarily considered family. A family violence allegation can be made against a foster child or parent, former spouse, domestic partner, roommate, boyfriend, girlfriend, and even boyfriend or girlfriend. "Dating violence" can also be used in place of "family violence."

 

What does "bodily injury" mean in an assault case"?

A lot of people consider "bodily injury" to be some sort of visible injury, like a cut or bruise but the legal definition is actually simple physical pain. You can be charged with Assault with "Bodily Injury" which is a class A misdemeanor and jail time offense, when you are accused of merely slapping someone or pulling his or her hair.

 

What is the significance of a "choking allegation" in a family violence case?

The government considers choking or suffocating a family member as a more serious offense than other forms of assault that do not involve a weapon. The government may charge you with a 3rd degree felony on the first offense of a choking accusation or a 2nd degree felony if you have any previous family violence convictions. The punishment for a 3rd degree felony is 2 to 10 years in prison. The punishment for a 2nd degree felony is 2-20 years and either one of those prison sentences can include a fine of up to $10,000.

 

What is the penalty range for assault with family violence?

It depends on your criminal history as well as the specific allegations against you such as bodily injury, chocking, deadly weapon, an assault, or aggravated assault, which can be filed as a Class C misdemeanor on up to a 1st degree felony. The range of possible outcomes at the low end of the spectrum includes fines while the higher end may result in probation or jail time.

 

Will domestic violence charges affect my relationship with my children?

You should contact an attorney immediately if you have been arrested for domestic violence. It would be wise to get the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. Contacting an attorney early enough in the case could allow for the attorney to arrange bail or have the charges dropped altogether.

 

What is an order of protection?

An order of protection is an order issued by states to protect victims of domestic violence. The order could be issued under the name of no-contact of stay-away order, depending on the state you reside. A victim that has been physically harmed or threatened with physical violence may petition the state to issue the order. These protection orders may require the abuser to leave the family home or provide financial support to the victim and their children. The person accused of abuse will receive a notice of the hearing for the protective order as well as the opportunity to contest the notice. If it is an emergency situation, the court may issue the order first before providing notice and opportunity to be heard. These orders are valid for a given time frame till a formal hearing can be held.

 

Is a protective order filed against me in one state valid in another state?

The answer is yes. The federal law requires states to enforce valid protection orders in other states if the order is violated in their jurisdiction. The other state must enforce the order even if the terms are not valid under their laws. This means if you follow your partner to another state and violate the terms of protection order issued against you in the original state, then you may face legal action. IF you have violated any of the state's own laws (in which you followed your partner to), then you can be charged with those violations in addition to the order violation.

 

Is domestic violence only applicable to married people?

Each state has their own definition for people that can be subject to civil or penalties for domestic violence. Domestic violence can take place between married people, divorce people, people who live together, people who used to live together, straight couples, gay couples, people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, or couples with children or without.

 

 

 

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