Texas is well known for its tough-on-crime attitude, and that’s especially true for domestic violence. Charges of domestic violence carry not only serious and immediate penalties upon conviction, but also financial and emotional consequences that can follow you for years to come.
Those charged with domestic violence might postpone hiring an attorney because they think it makes them seem guilty before they even enter a courtroom.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
At Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian we understand that relationships are complicated. We don’t judge individuals based on the circumstances of their personal relationships. We exercise compassion and use our extensive knowledge of the law to help individuals charged with domestic violence-related crimes find the best possible outcome for their case. The consequences of a domestic violence conviction can have a ripple effect, impacting aspects of your life today and for years to come. Your future hangs in the balance – don’t put it in the hands of an overworked public defender. Trust the legal team at Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian to give your case the time and attention it deserves. Contact McKinney criminal defense lawyers at (972) 369-0577 to schedule your free consultation.
What Is The Definition of Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a catch-all phrase that refers to threats or violence that occur between two people in a relationship. It’s an umbrella term used to describe a certain type of behavior, not necessarily a specific charge.
States break down “domestic violence” differently. In some areas, domestic violence is a distinct crime. In other states, domestic violence is a general term for a subset of charges that may be applied to different forms of crimes.
Domestic violence-related crimes can happen to people regardless of their gender or sexual preference. The only factor that law enforcement takes into consideration when determining if the crime falls under the domestic violence umbrella is whether the victim and the alleged perpetrator are in some form of relationship. Texas recognizes the following relationships as being protected under domestic violence laws:
- Current spouse
- Former spouse
- A person the alleged offender has a child with
- Any family member of the alleged offender by blood, marriage, or adoption
- Someone the alleged offender lives or co-habitats with
- Foster child or foster parent of the alleged offender
- A person the alleged offender is dating or in a relationship with
Texas Domestic Violence Laws
Texas is one of the states that use the term “domestic violence” as a catch-all phrase for certain violent behaviors or threats that impact family members or close relations. The state of Texas recognizes three different sub-categories of domestic violence as criminal offenses. These categories include:
- Domestic Assault – Domestic assault is the criminal act of threatening a partner or family member with violence or carrying out a violent act upon a partner or family member. To meet the legal definition of assault one of the following conditions must be met: Intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury to a partner or family member; intentionally threatening a partner or family member with bodily injury; intentionally causing physical contact with a partner or family member when the offender should reasonably know that the person will find contact offensive.
- Aggravated Domestic Assault – This classification is similar to domestic assault, however, there are mitigating circumstances that elevate the situation. For a person to be charged with aggravated domestic assault, the conditions for domestic assault must be met in addition to any of the following: intentionally or recklessly causing serious bodily injury, such as broken bones, disfigurement, or traumatic head injury, to a partner or family member; using or displaying a deadly weapon while committing any form of assault crime.
- Continuous Violence Against the Family – An individual may be charged with the crime of continuous violence against the family if the person commits two domestic assaults in a 12-month span. The individual may be convicted of this crime without either of the assaults resulting in an arrest or conviction. Similarly, a person can be charged with this crime even if the two assaults were not perpetrated against the same victim.
Texas Penalties for Domestic Violence
Since Texas recognizes three different and distinct types of domestic violence crimes, the penalties for domestic violence can vary significantly. The circumstances of the incident itself may also impact the penalties for domestic violence-related crimes. In general, these are the penalty categories for each of the three domestic violence crimes:
- Domestic Assault – Class A misdemeanor, or 3rd Degree Felony if the offender has prior domestic assault convictions
- Aggravated Domestic Assault – 2nd Degree Felony, or 1st Degree Felony if the offender uses a deadly weapon or causes serious bodily harm
- Continuous Violence Against the Family – 3rd Degree Felony
The penalties for these different crime classifications can include jail time, fines, or a combination of both as the court sees fit.
- Class A misdemeanor – Up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $4,000
- 3rd Degree Felony – 2 to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000
- 2nd Degree Felony – 2 to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000
- 1st Degree Felony – 5 to 99 years in prison and fines up to $10,000
However, these aren’t the only penalties that an individual may face if they are convicted of domestic violence. Offenders may also be forced to pay restitution to the victims, which can include compensation for medical expenses and property damage.
Under certain conditions, the court may grant a defendant what is known as deferred adjudication if they plead guilty to a domestic assault charge. Deferred adjudication means that sentencing for the crime will be postponed until the individual complies with a probation program, has no new arrests or other criminal offenses during the conditional period, and completes a domestic violence treatment program.
The court may also require the individual to pay restitution and complete community service during this time as well. Failure to completely fulfill the conditions of a deferred adjudication means the court will impose a sentence and enter a conviction. Typically, deferred adjudications are only offered to first-time offenders accused of domestic assault.
Domestic Violence Defense Strategies
When confronted with any form of domestic violence, it is important to seek immediate legal help. The state of Texas takes domestic issues seriously and will quickly build a case against you. Contacting an experienced domestic violence defense attorney early is the best way to begin building a strong defense to counter an aggressive prosecutor. From day one, a defense attorney will begin getting to know you and the circumstances of your case. The next step is to gather evidence and information that may prove useful for building a defense strategy.
Domestic violence cases are extremely personal and unique to the individual. Relationships are complex and have different circumstances that may impact a case. There is no cookie-cutter defense strategy that is effective in all types of domestic violence cases. It takes an experienced attorney with patience and compassion to understand all the domestic issues and craft a personalized defense strategy that fits the individual and their situation. With that in mind, some general defenses may apply to certain types of domestic violence cases.
These defenses may include:
- Incident was unintentional
- The allegations are false
- The incident happened in self-defense
- Lack of evidence
- Errors in the process of arrest
A skilled domestic violence defense attorney can tell you how these tactics may play into the overall defense strategy of your case. The consequences of a domestic violence conviction on your record are numerous and may have life-long implications. The defense team at Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian can help you sort through your legal options and provide the best possible solutions for the circumstances of your situation.
Contact an Experienced Domestic Violence Defense Team
Texas does not tolerate domestic violence in any form. The state takes a tough stance on domestic violence-related crimes. That’s why you need an equally tough defense attorney protecting your rights. A domestic violence conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life.
In addition to serious consequences including fines and possible prison time, a conviction can ruin your chances of landing a new job, getting a home or apartment, securing credit, and finding new and meaningful relationships. Your entire future may be on the line – don’t risk it by letting just anyone handle your case. Put your trust in a defense team with experience handling situations just like yours. Contact the legal team at Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a domestic violence-related crime, immediately contact Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian for guidance. We will review the circumstances of your case and guide you step-by-step through the legal process. For a free consultation call the office of Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian at (972) 369-0577. We are ready and willing to fight for you. Call today to find out how we can help.