Crimes Related to Family Violence Explained
Any form of family violence is considered a serious offense, which can result in a lengthy jail sentence, impede in family law and custody cases, or be stripped of your right to bear arms. If you are accused of an offense relating to family or domestic violence, you will need to hire a trustworthy and experienced San Antonio criminal defense attorney.
What is Family Violence?
In Texas, family violence and domestic violence refer to charges including domestic assault or assault which resulted in the bodily harm of a family member, assault by strangulation, the violation of a protective or restraining order, harassment, stalking, interfering with a 911 call, or even making terroristic threats. An act of family violence is a felony and can have severe consequences in a court of law.
Who Can File Charges of Family Violence?
When referring to an act of family violence or domestic violence, your lawyer is pertaining to a crime committed against both traditional and extended members of your family – by blood or by law – as well as anyone you may share a home or living space with. In the court, family violence charges can be filed by your immediate family – for example, parents, children, and siblings – family by marriage or adoption, a current or ex-spouse, a foster parent or child, the mother or father of your child, somebody with whom you are in – or have previously been in – a relationship with or a roommate with which you share a home.
What are the Penalties for Family Violence Charges?
There are different degrees relating to family violence charges, ranging from a misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. Each carries a different level of penalty, including jail time and fines, which can reach up to ninety-nine years and $10,0000 for a first-degree domestic violence felony. The sentence you receive will depend on the nature of the crime you are accused of and whether or not you have any previous criminal convictions.
A class C misdemeanor carries the least severe penalty of a conviction and fine of up to $5,000. Assault causing bodily harm is often categorized as a Class A misdemeanor in Texas, a criminal division which can result in up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. The other classifications of domestic violence include a third, second and first-degree felony.
Individuals charged with a third-degree felony can be given a sentence of between two to ten years in prison and face a fine of up to $10,000. A second-degree felony charge has a range of two to twenty years of jail time, and a first-degree felony classification can range from five to ninety-nine years in prison. Both charges can carry a fine of up to $10,000.
A conviction for family violence, no matter what classification it falls under, may also require the defendant to pay restitution. Restitution does not cover pain and suffering. Restitution only covers actual out of pocket expenses the victim may have incurred because of the crime, such as medical costs or costs to repair damaged property.
If a charge of family violence or domestic violence is filed against you, the case will be investigated and often taken to court, regardless of whether or not the victim or individual responsible for filing the charges wishes to have them dropped. In cases of domestic abuse, the prosecution can move forward with the charges even if the victim requests to have all charges against the accused dropped.
Domestic Abuse and Assault
Calls regarding domestic disturbances are often how the authorities get involved in cases of family violence, with assault causing bodily injury and spousal abuse the most common charges.
In these cases, the police will respond to the call and take separate statements from each individual present within the home individually, including the person responsible for reporting the incident, the accused and the alleged victim.
Any arrests that may be made will be based on the evidence acquired during questioning. However, this does not always result in the arrest or conviction of the correct party. Arrests can also be made in cases involving family and domestic violence as a precaution, to separate the individuals and prevent any further incidents.
Benefits of Good Representation
If you find yourself in the position where you are facing criminal charges for domestic violence, you will be in need of competent and professional representation. In some cases, the court may grant the defendant a community supervision order of deferred adjudication, highlighting the importance of a knowledgeable defense lawyer.
A community supervision order can be put in place if a defendant pleads guilty and involves a form of probation. This can apply to a sentence of up to two years in misdemeanor cases and up to ten years in felony cases. The defendant will be required to spend time in jail for up to thirty days for a misdemeanor or 180 days for a felony, before being released to comply with the terms of probation. These can include regular meetings with a probation officer, probation costs, curfews, employment, and avoiding further criminal convictions.
Deferred adjudication can also apply if the defendant pleads guilty and involves the postponement of sentencing, placing the defendant on probation. While fulfilling the terms of their probation, the defendant may also be required to carry out volunteer work in the community. If a defendant meets these conditions, the case may be dismissed. Otherwise, a sentence will be passed. This mostly applies to first-time offenders in cases of domestic assault.
A criminal defense attorney in San Antonio can discuss your case and advise on the best course of action during a trial. This can include what kind of plea you enter and the best approach to defense. If you are advised to plead guilty, your lawyer may be able to help you obtain an appropriate sentence and can help you with the impact this will have on your reputation, for example in terms of employment and child custody arrangements. If you are involved in a case of family violence, consult a reputable family violence attorney before proceeding.