Cases of domestic violence in Texas have been on the rise in the recent past. In fact, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 34.9% of Texan men and 40.1% of Texan women experience intimate partner stalking, intimate partner physical abuse and/or intimate partner rape during their lifetimes.
That said, charges of domestic violence are often taken seriously – and for a good reason. Suppose you’re convicted of behaving abusively or violently towards your spouse or partner; there could be some extreme penalties that could alter your life forever. Even so, regardless of how grim the charges are, everyone has a right to a fair trial and a strong legal representation –and if you’re not guilty of the charges brought before you, that makes it all the more urgent for you to hire an attorney to help with your case.
The best way to stand to present a strong case and clear your name is to partner with a domestic violence attorney who specializes in defense. Find an Austin domestic violence attorney today.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship that’s used by one partner to gain control over another intimate partner. There are many types of abuse included in the definition of domestic violence, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, psychological abuse, stalking, and threats.
Domestic violence can occur within a range of relationships, including couples who are dating, married, or living together. Anyone can become a domestic violence victim regardless of their age, gender, class, race, faith, or sexual orientation.
When a person is arrested on a domestic violence offense, they can ultimately be charged with a felony or misdemeanor depending on various factors.
- Misdemeanor: Domestic violence involving threats of harm or offensive or provocative contact constitute a class C misdemeanor and are punishable by a fine of up to $500. Suppose the victim suffers a bodily injury, the penalty increases to a class A misdemeanor – this charge carries a fine of up to $4000 or a one-year jail term.
- Felony: A domestic assault involving an injury becomes a third-degree felony if the defendant has prior domestic violence convictions or the offense involved suffocation or strangulation. An offender convicted of a third-degree felony can be imprisoned for 2 to 10 years or fined $10,000. (Tex. Penal Code §§ 12.32, 12.33, 22.02 (2021).)
Certain felonies are considered “wobblers.” They can either be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. The prosecutor will consider the defendant’s criminal record and the facts of the case when determining what level of criminal charges to file.
What Type of Punishment Are Convicted Offenders Facing?
A person in Texas can be convicted of a felony for continuous abuse against the spouse or family member by committing two or more assaults within 12 months. There isn’t a requirement that the previous domestic assaults resulted in convictions or arrests or were committed against the same victim. Committing continuous violence against a family member is treated as a third-degree felony and results in a $10,000 fine or 2 to 10 years in prison. (Tex. Penal Code §§ 12.34, 25.11 (2021).)
Violating a protective order prohibiting contact with the domestic violence victim constitutes a class A misdemeanor, which has a penalty of one year in jail or a $4,000 fine. Suppose the defendant has two or more convictions for violating a protective order or committing an assault; the resulting charge could be a third-degree felony. Repeatedly violating an order within 12 months, even without a conviction, can also result in a felony conviction. This offense carries a 2 to 10-year jail term or a $10,000 fine.
First-time offenders may be afforded a deferred adjudication, but only if the judge determines that it is in the victim’s best interest. Judges who place domestic violence defendants on probation – instead of incarcerating them usually impose special conditions. For example, they may require that the defendant attend counseling and battering intervention programs.
Can the Police Press Charges if the Victim Doesn’t Want to in Austin?
The police can, and most often will, go ahead to press assault charges even if the victim doesn’t want to prosecute. In a criminal case, it is not the victim’s decision to determine whether a case will be prosecuted or not. It is the State of Texas versus the defendant.
And while the state can drop assault charges, the prosecutor doesn’t usually dismiss them just because it is the victim’s wish. Prosecutors can even proceed with such cases even if the victim doesn’t want to cooperate. This means that you can’t just sit back hoping that the assault charge will be dismissed because you know that the victim isn’t going to testify.
Your Inquiries Are Confidential
Being charged with a crime isn’t the same as being found guilty. Get legal representation from an attorney that will fight for you. And remember, it’s safest to navigate the legal process with the advice of an experienced attorney. Our team cares about our clients and is there to help and guide you through the possible pitfalls. Don’t do this on your own. Initial consultations are free and confidential at Stephen T. Bowling. Contact us today.