Fighting your Family Violence Charge

Many family members experience conflict where arguments and disagreements occur. At times, things get out of hand and the police are called for help. Once the police arrive, they look to resolve the dispute, and the easiest way they can do that is by taking someone to jail. In the blink of an eye, you will need to defend yourself against the criminal allegations, deal with the fallout of your personal relationship, find a new place to live, and fight for your future.

When you hire The Wilder Law Firm, you will be putting more than 25 years of experience with assault and family violence charges to work for you. Now is not the time to try and talk to the police or your accuser. Emotions are high and anything you say can be misconstrued and held against you. Your situation is serious and you need a staunch advocate on your side fighting for you and your future. Call us at 214-741-4000 and let us fight for you.

What is Family Violence?

Family violence is also referred to as “domestic violence” and is defined in Texas Family Code 71.004 as:

  • An act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not includes defensive measure to protect oneself;
  • Abuse, as that term is defined in Texas Family Code 261.001, by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household; or
  • Dating violence.

While it is common to think of family violence occurring between spouses or people who are dating, the following relationships all fall under family violence:

  • Family related by blood.
  • Family related by marriage.
  • A member of your home.
  • Anyone you had a child with (do not have to be married).
  • Current spouse.
  • Former spouse.
  • Foster child or parent.
  • Anyone living in your home.
  • A child of a partner or former partner.
  • Anyone you have had a dating relationship with (even an ex).

We Will Fight For You and Your Future

An allegation of abuse or an injury resulting from an altercation only tells one side of the story. Our focus is on developing, perfecting, and telling your side of what happened. While trying to perfect your defense, here are some of the defenses we will investigate: 

  • Self defense.
  • Defense of others.
  • Defense of property. 
  • Duress.
  • Necessity.
  • Injuries occurred, but not by you.
  • Victim lying.
  • Self-inflicted wound.
  • Lack of mental state.

We know you are not only worried about the family violence charge, but also the outcome of your case and how that will affect your future. We will work closely with you to ensure all possible defenses are thoroughly investigated and the most effective defense is put forth.

Self Defense

Self Defense is the most common defense to a family violence allegation.  You are justified in using force against another when and to the degree you reasonably believe the force is immediately necessary to protect you against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force. You do not have to wait until the other person uses any force against you in order to claim self defense. Your perception that force is about to be used against you is enough to defend yourself.

Defense of Others

You can legally come to the aid of another to defend them. A person is justified in using force against another to protect a third person if the person reasonably believes they would be justified in using force to protect themself against the unlawful force they reasonably believe to be threatening the third person they seek to protect. Deadly force can also be used in this situation.

Defense of Property

A person in lawful possession of property is justified in using force against another when and to the degree that they reasonably believe force is immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the other’s trespass or unlawful interference with the property. The amount of justifiable force used will depend on the specific facts of any one given case, but it can include the use of deadly force.

Duress

It is an affirmative to prosecution that you engaged in the assault because you were compelled to do so by threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury to you or another. Compulsion exists only if the force or threat of force would render a person of reasonable firmness incapable of resisting the pressure.

Necessity

Conduct is justified if the person reasonably believes the conduct is immediately necessary to avoid imminent harm and the desirability or urgency of avoiding the harm clearly outweigh, according to ordinary standards of reasonableness, the harm sought to be prevented by the law prescribing the conduct.

Victim Lying

Not every assault results in visible injuries. All a person has to state is that the other person did “something” that caused them pain. I have heard people say, “if you touch me, I will call the police” and when the police arrive, they completely oversell what happened, or just make up enough to try and get someone arrested. Having your hair pulled can be painful, yet no marks will be left and that is an easy allegation to lie about. Additionally, some police departments are known to have extremely slow response times and the accuser can claim the hand print left from the assault went away due to their slow response.

Self-inflicted Wound

When injuries are visible, we must then determine how they got there. This is especially the case when the marriage is deteriorating and there is an anticipated custody battle or when a dating relationship is coming to an end. People have intentionally hit themselves or slammed themselves into a door frame to cause visible injuries only to blame their spouse when the police arrive. People have accidentally slipped and fell when arguing after an evening of drinking, injuring themselves, only to become more irate and blame the other. The police do not know what happened but they will look for any injuries and when they see one, the other person goes to jail.  

Lack of Mental State

In any assault, the person has to either intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, cause the injury. Imagine you are in an argument with your significant other. You decide to leave the house and are angry. You start to hurry for the door and when you turn the corner, run into and knock down the other person. You did not know they were there and it was a total accident. They are injured from the contact and fall. They tell the police you ran into them causing the injuries. All of that is true, but no crime was committed because you did not have one of the required mental states. However, there still is a good chance you will still be arrested and put in jail.

Provocation

A person cannot provoke you into an assault, then claim self defense. If you are provoked into assaulting someone, there must be evidence that:

  1. The person did some act or use some words that provoked the attack;
  2. That such act or words were reasonably calculated to provoke the attack; and
  3. That the act was done or the words were used for the purpose and with the intent that the defendant would have a pretext for inflicting harm upon the other.

Penalties of Family Violence

First Allegation: Offensive Touching

  • Class C Misdemeanor
  • No jail time can be assessed
  • Up to a $500 fine
  • Permanent Family Violence finding which can be used to enhance any future allegation to a Felony!

*Even though a Class C is punishable by a fine only, the Family Violence finding can have devastating effects on any future allegation.  Class C allegations need to be taken very seriously.

First Allegation: Bodily Injury

  • Class A Misdemeanor
  • County Jail: Up to 1 year; or
  • Probation:  Up to 2-years.
  • Fine: Up to $4,000.
  • Permanent Family Violence finding – the charge can never be expunged or non-disclosed
  • Deferred probation is an option, but any deferred can always be used to enhance any future Family Violence allegation to a Felony!

First Allegation: Choking

  • Third Degree Felony.
  • Prison:  A sentence of  2-10 years; or
  • Probation:  A sentence of 2-10 years.
  • A fine up to $10,000.
  • Permanent Family Violence finding – always on your record
  • Deferred probation is an option from 2-10 years

Second Allegation

  • Third Degree Felony.
  • A prison sentence of 2-10 years; or
  • Probation up to 10 years.
  • A fine of as much as $10,000. 

Continuous Family Violence

  • Third Degree Felony.
  • A prison sentence of  2-10 years; or
  • Probation up to 10 years.
  • A fine as much as $10,000.

Deadly Weapon used or Serious Bodily Injury

  • First Degree Felony.
  • A prison sentence of 5-99 years; or
  • Probation up to 10 years.
  • A fine of as much as $10,000.

Violation of a Protective Order 

  • Class A Misdemeanor.
  • A jail sentence of up to a year; or
  • Probation for up to 2 years.
  • A fine of as much as $4,000.

Protecting Your Future is Our Goal

A family violence allegation will not go away on its own and there is the potential for harsh consequences. When arguing with another, it is common for emotions to take over and the police are called solely to try and get you in trouble. Lies are told and the fact that you were defending yourself is conveyed that you were the aggressor. There are two sides to every story and we will make sure your side is told in the most effective manner. With so much on the line, call us at 214-741-4000 and let us fight for you.

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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