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Domestic Violence | Facts and Questions

What is the punishment for assault on a family member in Texas?

Texas does not have stand-alone domestic violence laws. Instead, domestic violence is called an assault on a family member in Texas. There are three different types of crimes within the category of assault on a family member — domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family. Domestic assault involves a defendant threatening a family member, spouse, or partner with a bodily injury. It also includes causing a bodily injury or causing physical contact that is provocative or offensive.

Aggravated domestic assault happens when the defendant uses a weapon to assault the victim or suffers a serious bodily injury. The term weapon is defined broadly and includes anything from a firearm to a baseball bat. When the victim suffers serious bodily harm, prosecutors can file aggravated assault as a first-degree felony charge. Otherwise, it is a second-degree felony. Finally, continuous violence against the family is a third-degree felony. Defendants who commit two domestic assaults within a year can receive a conviction for this crime in Texas. 

How long does a domestic violence charge stay on your record in Texas?

Domestic violence is a serious crime in Texas. In most cases, if you are convicted of domestic violence, you will not be able to clear your record unless a court overturns your conviction on appeal. In other words, your domestic violence charge will likely stay on your record forever. However, you may be able to conceal or expunge some types of domestic violence arrest and charges that do not result in a conviction. So you may be able to expunge your arrest and domestic violence charges when you’re not found guilty, your case was never filed after an arrest, or your case was dismissed.

What constitutes a domestic disturbance in Texas?

A domestic disturbance happens when members of a household, typically spouses or romantic partners or family members, begin shouting at one another. Their shouting and arguing can lead to verbal abuse or psychological abuse. When one person makes physical contact with the other person, they could be charged with domestic assault. Texas does not recognize domestic disturbance as a specific crime. When a police officer shows up to a domestic disturbance, someone could be arrested and charged. Texas recognizes three types of domestic violence charges — domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family

Can you expunge domestic violence convictions in Texas?

As mentioned above, a domestic violence conviction typically will not be eligible for expungement from your record. However, some criminal convictions can be sealed when a court issues an order of non-disclosure. When the court issues an order of non-disclosure, government entities such as law enforcement offices and courts cannot disclose your criminal record to other people or government agencies. 

Unfortunately, Texas Courts do not issue orders of non-disclosure for family violence offenses. You may be able to successfully ask the court to expunge your domestic violence charge if you have not been found guilty, your case was never filed after an arrest, or the court dismissed your case. Another option is to pursue an appeal of your case and request the court to overturn your conviction. 

What is the difference between domestic violence and domestic assault?

Domestic assault is one type of domestic violence crime. Domestic assault happens when a person threatens another person with bodily injury, causes a bodily injury, or causes physical contact that is offensive or provocative. In other words, domestic assault involves a regular assault but against a family member. Victims of assault on a family member typically include a spouse or former spouse or the child of a current or former spouse or romantic partner.

What is continuous violence against the family?

Continuous violence against the family is a type of domestic violence charge in Texas. When a defendant has committed domestic assault within 12 months, the prosecutors can charge them with continuous violence against the family. The two domestic assaults do not need to result in an arrest or even a conviction at the time. Also, the two assaults do not need to be against the victim or the same household.

What does domestic battery mean?

In many states, domestic battery is a separate type of domestic violence charge. Texas only recognizes three types of domestic violence. Domestic assault includes the crime of domestic battery in Texas. The crime of battery means engaging in physical contact that is reasonably considered offensive or provocative by the victim. You do not have to hurt the victim to be charged with battery. The crime of domestic assault includes offensive touching in Texas.

How long does a domestic violence charge stay on your record in Texas?

A domestic violence charge would stay on your record permanently unless you were able to have it expunged. Expungement is only possible in limited cases, and it is best to discuss your case with a lawyer to see if you would qualify for expungement.

Can a domestic violence conviction be expunged in Texas?

Texas courts do not favor expungement for domestic violence defendants. In most cases, you will not be able to clear your record with a domestic violence conviction. However, if you have not been convicted of domestic violence, see or arrest and charges may be able to be expunged.

How do most domestic violence cases end?

If you have been accused of domestic violence in Texas, you are probably feeling concerned about how your case will end. There is no way to predict precisely how your domestic violence case will end, as it will depend on the facts of your case and any aggravating circumstances that arise. If it is your first domestic violence accusation, it is unlikely that your case will go to trial. Your attorney may be able to secure probation for you or reach a favorable plea deal with the opposing attorney. 

DOUGLAS WILDER

I am dedicated to the defense of my clients but that only tells a portion of who I am. I have been practicing law since 1995.

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