Fighting your Domestic Violence Charge | Plano & Dallas, Texas

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 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 our Plano, TX office at 469-551-8609 and let us fight for you.

Texas Domestic Violence Laws

Family violence, also referred to as “domestic violence,” 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 Domestic Violence in Texas

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 | Plano & Dallas, TX

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 our Plano office at 469-551-8609 and let us fight for you.

Common Questions About Texas Domestic Violence Laws

 

Q: What happens if it is my first domestic violence offense?

Being charged with any crime is a difficult thing to go through. However, there is a certain stigma that makes domestic violence charges even more concerning. If you have been charged with domestic violence for the first time, you are probably wondering what will happen to you. Many factors can go into what will happen if it is your first domestic violence offense in Texas. 

If you do not have a criminal history and there are no aggravating factors in your case, you may be able to seek deferred adjudication. This is a special type of probation. If you finish deferred adjudication without any incidents, the case will be dismissed eventually. You will not be convicted. Remember, you will need to satisfy all of your probation requirements before the court will dismiss the charges against you. It is important that you take your probation seriously to avoid jail time for domestic violence. 

On the other hand, if the court issues an affirmative finding of family violence, it will stay with you in the future. After that happens, if you are ever charged with assault of a family member again, prosecutors will bring felony charges against you since you already had a prior domestic violence conviction.

Q: Is domestic violence a felony in Texas?

Family violence is defined broadly in Texas, and the crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances. There are two ways domestic violence charges can become felony charges in Texas. First by enhancement, and second by strangulation during the criminal act. An enhancement is an increased penalty range to a third-degree felony because the defendant has a prior family violence conviction. There are three levels of domestic violence in Texas:

  • Assault by threat with family violence – Class C Misdemeanor – $500 fine with no jail time
  • Assault family violence – Class A Misdemeanor – $4,000 fine with up to one year of jail time
  • Assault family violence or assault family violence by strangulation – a third-degree felony with a jail sentence of three to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000
Q: Are most domestic violence cases dismissed?

Domestic violence cases are similar to other cases because many of them never go to trial. Many domestic violence cases end up pleading out, or the case will get dismissed. Prosecutors are overburdened, and when possible, they may try to obtain a plea deal so they do not have to go to trial.

Q: What is domestic violence fraud?

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for someone to be falsely accused of domestic violence in Texas. According to the Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), as many as 10% of people accused of domestic violence, sexual assault, or child abuse have been falsely accused. Nearly any family member or current or past romantic partner can file a false allegation of domestic violence, even without proof. 

Q: What should I do if I am falsely accused of domestic violence in Texas?

If you are dealing with a false accusation of domestic violence, it is crucial that you understand your rights and discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible. It can be tempting to get into an argument with the person who falsely accused you. Avoid doing that at all costs. Getting into a heated argument could give the idea that you have a heated and violent relationship. Instead, you should discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Do not agree to a police interview unless you have an attorney present, even if the police officer acts like they believe you and are in your corner.

Q: Can a domestic violence charge be reduced to disorderly conduct?

In Texas, there are many ways a person can be charged with disorderly conduct. As with domestic violence charges, the severity of the penalties depends on the factors involved in the case. For example, a defendant can face a Class C misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct for using offensive language in a public place. There are also more serious types of disorderly conduct charges, including state-jail felonies or third-degree felonies. 

Depending on the facts of your case, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecution to get your charges reduced to disorderly conduct charges. However, if you injure a person with whom you have a domestic relationship, the prosecutor will be less likely to drop the charges to disorderly conduct. 

Q: Can I be arrested for shoving or slapping a woman?

Yes, you can be arrested for shoving or slapping a woman in Texas. Choking, kicking, hitting, slapping, and hair-pulling are all considered types of assault. If you have a familial relationship with the person who assaulted, were in a romantic relationship, or simply lived with the individual, you can face domestic assault charges for shoving or slapping a woman. Assault can also include poking someone in the chest during an argument, brushing up against someone in a sexually suggestive manner, or simply getting in someone’s face in a threatening way.

Q: If a woman slaps a man, is it considered domestic assault?

Yes, under Texas domestic violence laws, the sex of the person who slaps someone is irrelevant. In other words, it does not matter if the assailant is a man or woman. Slapping another person can result in a domestic battery charge. Sometimes people assume that women cannot face domestic violence charges, but that is not true. Law enforcement officers have a duty to try to ascertain what happened during the altercation and arrest the person who used violence against the other person. Slapping another person is an offensive touch intended to injure the other person, and it is a crime in Texas.

For more information on Texas domestic violence violence laws, please see: Domestic Violence Facts & Questions

Our office location: 5600 Tennyson Parkway, Suite #290, Plano, TX 75024

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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