Understanding
Domestic Violence under
Texas Law

In this article you will understand from the definition to the different accusations in cases of domestic violence, and how legal representation can help you.

Growing a family and a successful marriage can be a challenge in today’s world. Misunderstandings and arguments here and there are common in every family. Despite this, staying in a family where you no longer feel secure can result in a serious disaster. When family members, spouses, or roommates no longer get along, it is always advisable for people to go their separate ways before things get serious.

The Texas government does not tolerate domestic violence and subjects the defendant to severe punishments. Any physical altercation between people of the same household is considered a violent act.

Many people assume that domestic violence only amounts to physical violence alone. This assumption leads to several victims suffering other types of domestic abuse without doing anything about it. In Texas, domestic violence is not just physical abuse. It entails more than what is seen on the outside.

Any violent act with the intention to gain power over a spouse, girlfriend, or any other family member is categorized as domestic violence. The abuse is a behavior not caused by drug, anger, or mental problems. Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, social, and sexual. Any act of violence considered domestic doesn’t have to occur within a home. As long as the victim and the accused are in a relationship, any act of violence is deemed to be domestic.

Texas law recognizes 3 types of domestic violence. 

These are;

  1. Domestic Assault

This is a threat or an act of violence to which the defendant shares an intimate relationship. This can be a spouse or former spouse, current or former dating partner, parent of the defendant children, child of the current or former spouse, blood or adopted relatives, foster child or foster parent, or roommate. Any intentional, reckless, or knowing threat or bodily injury on any person mentioned above is a domestic assault.

  1. Aggravated Domestic Assault

When an assault causes serious bodily injury to the victim, this is categorized as aggravated domestic assault. This happened when the defendant was carrying a deadly weapon during the act. Examples of deadly weapons are knives, firearms, brass knuckles, baseball bats, etc. The injuries can be broken bones, lost limbs, heart injury, or disfigurement.

  1. Continuous Violence Against the Family

If violence or threat occurs more than once in two months, the defendant will be charged with continuous violence against the family. This also applies when the defendant has a criminal record of the same crimes against the same family member or multiple victims.

To prove a domestic violence case, the prosecutor must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the act was carried out intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. If the victim had bodily injuries, the prosecutor must have enough proof to show that the defendant’s actions caused such amount of physical bodily harm.

Texas’s Legal Definition of Domestic Violence

Tex. Penal Code Ann. §22.01 defines domestic violence as an assault against a family member, someone you’re dating or dated in the past, or any member of your household, including roommate or nanny. The assault can be done intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. It might have caused bodily injury, threatened to cause bodily harm, or any action that the offender knows will be provocative or offensive to the victim.

Provocative or Offensive Act

This is an action that doesn’t result in bodily injury or any physical pain. The action, however, makes the victim feel disrespected or insecure. For instance; touching a dating partner in a sexually provocative manner is considered a domestic assault.

Recklessness

Texas law recognizes recklessness as an act committed without thinking about the outcome. The offender may have committed the action without an intention to hurt anybody, but it caused harm anyway. For instance, pushing a partner out of the way in a manner that causes a fall or bodily injury is an act of recklessness hence considered domestic assault.

Intentionally or Knowingly

This involves taking an action that causes direct harm to an individual with clear knowledge of the effects and the intention of causing the harm. The offender may be on his right mindset and clearly understand the harm that his/her actions are going to cause to the victim. He/she doesn’t care about the emotional harm or bodily injury because that’s the intention.

Legal Repercussions of Domestic Violence in Texas

If you’re found guilty of domestic violence in Texas, the following legal actions will be taken against you;

  • “Class C” misdemeanor charge; this goes for up to a year in jail
  • First-degree felony; this is a charge given for those found guilty of severe domestic violence cases. The charges go between 5 to 99 years in prison with up to $10,000 charges.
  • An affirmative finding of family violence; you may not be convicted with domestic violence, but this charge exposes you to several collateral consequences such as not being able to rent an apartment or not being allowed to work with children.
  • “Class A” misdemeanor; this charge is given to the offender for knowingly or willingly causing the injuries, property destruction, or emotional harm to the victim.
  • Second-degree felony; this involves a period of two to 20-year imprisonment an a $10,000 fine
  • Third-degree felony; this goes for a period of two to 10-year sentence plus a fine of 10,000 maximum.

Other domestic violence penalties in Texas include;

Restitution

This happens if you’re convicted for a simple assault. The state may require you to pay restitution for the victim or his/her family. It can be in the form of medical expenses, repair or replacement of destroyed property, or grief and counseling costs.

Community supervision

This is a probation or community supervision granted to the offender instead of a jail term. This is done for misdemeanor crimes of up to two years or up to 10 years for felony crimes. Other offenders might undergo a specific jail term period before undergoing community supervision.

This is done under the supervision of a probation officer. The offender will also pay costs associated with probation, comply with the court orders. Failure to complete the supervision may result in jail term.

Deferred Adjudication

This is an alternative to jail for defendants who plead guilty of assault cases. The court postpones sentencing for a given period. The defendant pays restitution, complies with probation terms, performs volunteer work, and avoids any problem with the law for a given period.

There are other things that can ease or worsen your domestic violence case. The court will look at all the scenarios to determine the best charge for your case. The scenarios include;

  • The age of the victim
  • The defendant’s relationship to the victim
  • If the case involves strangling
  • Whether the defendant used a deadly weapon
  • Past convictions on violence conduct

Some domestic violence charges in Texas are felonies that you may not get away from even if the victim decides the drop the charges. The district attorney’s office can still decide to proceed with the charges and see to it that you’re prosecuted.

“In Texas, domestic violence is not just physical abuse. It entails more than what is seen on the outside.”

What To Do If You’re A Victim

Know the warning signs

Sometimes domestic violence doesn’t see the warning signs beforehand. You might confuse some signs to love or just mere insecurities. You should always keep your eyes open to see the red flags of a toxic relationship. If you’re afraid of your partner, he/she always criticizes you even in public, threatens to kill you whenever you argue, destroys things or punches the wall, blames you for his/her mistakes, among other unpleasant things; you should run for your dear life. These are just a few warning signs of an abusive person.

Understand that you’re in danger

Most domestic violence victims let things go too far because they are in denial. There is nothing as bad as being in an abusive relationship. If you don’t acknowledge the fact that the relationship exposes you to a lot of danger, then you’re in for worst things. Don’t love so blindly as not to realize that you’re exposing yourself to a lot of damage physically, emotionally, and socially.

Talk to someone

After deciding that you’re indeed in danger, sometimes it becomes hard to make a decision by yourself. This is where you need to talk to someone. Find someone you can trust and explain your situation. This can be a friend, a family member, or a psychologist. Talking to someone will help you make a decision to leave the dangerous situation and find safety.

Call the police

Sometimes the situation can become so dangerous that you can’t have time to talk to a friend. The first thing to do if you sense immediate danger is to call the police. The police will always come to your rescue as soon as possible and arrest the offender.

Trust yourself

Sometimes domestic abusers can tend to kill your self-esteem. They make you believe that you’re worthless and nobody can come to your rescue. They might make you blame yourself for what they do for you. This is emotional abuse and is also classified as domestic violence. You should be confident enough to get yourself out of that situation before its too late.

Understand your rights

Understanding your legal rights is very important. Texas has laid down laws that protect you from all forms of domestic violence. You should always feel free to talk to an attorney about them.

Seek medical help

Most domestic violence victims don’t come out until they are physically abused and seriously injured. If you get injured or sexually assaulted, seek emergency help as soon as possible or rush to the nearest hospital and get emergency help.

Don’t be afraid to end the relationship

Sometimes domestic abuse can repeat itself no matter how many times you forgive. Some victims love too much that they find it hard to walk out. The sooner you walk out of an abusive relationship, the better it will be for you. Don’t let the offender manipulate you into going back to the toxic relationship because they might be planning to retaliate on you for reporting them.

Legal Representation For Domestic Violence in Texas

Whether you’re a victim or a defendant, you need to get the help of an attorney to help you go through the court process. It is always risky to defend yourself, especially for the defendant. An attorney is your best bet if you want to build your case and have the best possible outcome. At Xavier Law Firm, we decisively stand up for victims of domestic violence.

You should also consider that it is common for an innocent person to be charged or domestic violence or for a criminal to get away with the charges. Either way, you need the best legal representation to look at the situation from different angles and defend your rights in the best possible way.

 

 

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