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Domestic & Family Violence in New Braunfels, Texas Protecting  the Rights of Clients Facing Criminal Charges

The Texas Department of Public Safety estimates that as many as 1 in 3 Texans will likely experience domestic violence in their lifetime. The Lone Star State takes domestic violence cases very seriously, and prosecution tends to be very aggressive when pressing charges and pursuing a conviction. See how domestic violence cases work in Texas and see how a criminal defense lawyer can help you fight to beat your charges if you are facing accusations.

What Is Considered Domestic Violence in Texas?

In Texas, domestic violence is also called family violence. Any crime against a family member of the offender tends to result in harsher charges and sentences than a similar crime committed against someone other than a family member. If a person commits or threatens to commit a violent felony that results or can result in physical harm, injury, or sexual assault against a family member, that person may be facing family violence charges.

The state considers a family member to be a spouse (current or former), a parent, a foster child, other blood relatives, relatives by marriage or adoption, individuals that reside or used to reside together, and couples who are dating or used to be in a dating relationship. There are several crimes that can be considered domestic violence or family violence, including domestic assault and aggravated domestic assault.

What Constitutes Domestic Assault and Aggravated Domestic Assault in Texas?

Domestic assault is considered an act of violence against someone who is considered to be a family member of the perpetrator. The act can result in physical harm or simply lead the victim to believe they are in danger of physical harm. In other words, to be charged with domestic assault, the offender does not necessarily have to cause bodily injuries to the victim – even saying something that can be understood as a verbal threat may be enough for a domestic assault charge.

However, an individual may be charged with aggravated domestic assault if they intentionally or knowingly acted in a way that caused serious bodily injury to a family member. In addition, if the offender used a weapon to threaten or commit a violent act against the victim, the offender may also be facing aggravated domestic assault charges. This is sometimes called aggravated assault by threat and can be charged as a first-degree felony. If an individual has already been arrested for at least 2 other instances of domestic assault, they may be facing a charge of “continuous violence against the family,” even if the previous incidents did not result in criminal charges or convictions.

What Are the Possible Punishments for Domestic Violence Crimes?

The sentences for domestic violence crimes vary depending on whether the victim suffered any bodily injury and to what extent, as well as whether the offender used any deadly weapon in the process. Domestic assault can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony in some cases. If the offender engaged in threats of harming someone or touched them in a way that can be thought of as provocative or offensive, they may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and be required to pay a fine. However, if the contact between the offender and the victim resulted in bodily injury, the crime may be escalated to a Class A misdemeanor and include potential fines and up to one year in jail.

Domestic assault can be a felony if the incident involves the use of strangulation or suffocation or if the offender has a criminal record and has previously been convicted of domestic assault. In this case, the offender may face a third-degree felony charge with the potential of spending 2 to 10 years in prison and paying up to $10,000.00 in fines.

Aggravated domestic assault is usually a second-degree felony with sentences that can include 2 to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000.00 in fines. However, aggravated domestic assault can become a first-degree felony if a deadly weapon is used and the victim suffers serious bodily harm. In Texas, defendants convicted of a first-degree felony may be sentenced to a prison term of 5 years to 99 years or even life. In addition, they may be required to pay a fine of $10,000.00.

Can the Police Make a Domestic Violence Arrest Without a Warrant in Texas?

If the police are called to a family violence situation in Texas, they are allowed to make an arrest if there is enough probable cause that the suspect may have committed a criminal offense against a family member. In this situation, the arrest can be made without a warrant, which is supposed to be a way to offer protection for the alleged domestic violence victim. However, the ability of law enforcement to take suspects into custody without a warrant can sometimes result in unfair arrests.

For example, if a couple is arguing loudly and the neighbors call the police, chances are emotions are running high. One of the spouses may end up making false accusations that lead a police officer to take the other spouse into custody for domestic violence, only to regret it later on. This is especially true because domestic violence charges cannot be dropped once filed, even if the victim changes their mind. Only the prosecutor can dismiss a domestic violence case.

If you have been arrested for domestic violence crimes or are facing charges, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Seymour & Vaughn can help you protect your rights and fight for a positive outcome in your case. Contact our law firm at  830-282-8751 to learn more.