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Houston Domestic Violence Attorney
Defending Those Accused of Domestic Violence in Harris County, TX
Domestic violence accusations are among the most common cases heard in Texas courts. They involve various levels of assault against family or household members, with penalties dictated by the circumstances of the incident. If you are arrested or under investigation for family violence in Houston, the consequences can range from probation to life in prison. The sentence depends on the nature of the charge, injuries, and prior acts of family violence. Just the mere allegation of a family violence charge can have a negative stigma, resulting in losing a job, forfeiting your right to possess a firearm, and limitations on where you can go and what you can do.
Why Hire Our Houston Domestic Violence Lawyer?
At Drehner Law, our Houston family violence lawyer has a specific and valuable background in this area of the law. While working in the Harris County DA’s office, Attorney Shannon Drehner had specialized training and experience in the Family Criminal Law Division. She gained invaluable experience learning how police and prosecutors investigate and try these complicated cases. This insight has given her and her clients an advantage in the courtroom combating baseless family violence charges.
Domestic Violence Charges in Texas
What Is Considered Domestic Violence in Texas?
Domestic violence, also referred to as family violence, occurs when a person harms or threatens to harm someone with whom they have a close relationship.
According to the Texas Family Code, a criminal act may be classified as domestic violence if the alleged offender’s intent was to:
- Cause physical harm,
- Cause bodily injury,
- Sexually assault, or
- Cause fear of physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault.
Specifically, the act must have been committed against a family or household member or someone with whom the alleged offender was in a dating relationship.
The terms “family or household member” and “dating relationship” encompass a wide range of individuals, not just spouses or romantic partners.
An act might constitute family violence if the alleged offender committed it against:
- A spouse
- A former spouse
- A person with whom they currently live or previously lived together
- A sibling
- A parent
- A child
- A grandparent
- A grandchild
- An aunt or uncle
- A person they have a child with (regardless of marital status)
- A foster child
- A foster parent
- A person with whom they are currently in or have previously been in a romantic or intimate relationship
At Drehner Law, our Houston domestic violence attorney recognizes that arguments between people in close relationships can get intense. In the heat of the moment and with tempers up, one of the parties might claim domestic violence has occurred. Whether the accusations against you are unfounded, we are here to listen to your side of the story and stand up for you throughout your case.
What Causes Harris County Family Violence Charges?
As mentioned before, domestic violence involves harm or threats of harm against specific individuals. In Texas, family violence charges are caused when someone is accused of violating certain laws.
The following are the three primary ways someone can get charged with domestic violence:
Domestic Assault (Texas Penal Code § 22.01)
Also called assault family violence, this offense involves injuring or threatening to injure a family or household member or dating partner. Specific acts include:
- Knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing bodily injury;
- Intentionally or knowingly threatening to cause bodily injury; or
- Intentionally or knowingly physically contacting someone in a provocative or offensive manner
Aggravated Domestic Assault (Texas Penal Code § 22.02)
Aggravated domestic assault is committed when someone assaults a family or household member or dating partner under circumstances that increase the severity of the offense.
These circumstances include:
- Causing serious bodily injury, or
- Using a dangerous weapon
Continuing Violence Against the Family (Texas Penal Code § 25.11)
This law imposes enhanced charges and greater penalties upon a person found to have repeatedly committed domestic violence against a family or household member or dating partner.
A person may be prosecuted under this statute if they:
- Assaulted a person they have a close relationship with two or more times and
- Committed the offenses within 12 months or less of each other.
Our Houston domestic violence lawyer will aggressively defend you no matter the circumstances. We will clearly explain the charges you are facing and your legal rights. We’ll also let you know what avenues are available to challenge the accusations against you, regardless of how serious they are. Our priority is to protect your liberties and future.
Is Domestic Violence a Felony in Texas?
Domestic violence can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. The level of charge is tied to various factors, including the conduct involved in the offense, the alleged offender’s criminal history, and the circumstance under which the act was committed. In any case, the possible punishments for family violence can include fines and/or confinement.
Below are the potential conviction penalties for family violence in Texas:
Assault family violence causing injury – Class A misdemeanor:
- Up to 1 year in jail and/or
- Up to $4,000 in fines
Assault family violence causing injury and the alleged offender has a prior
conviction or the offense was committed by blocking the individual’s
blood circulation or breathing – Third-degree felony:
- 2 to 10 years in prison and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Assault family violence by threat or touching in an offensive or provocative
way – Class C misdemeanor:
- Up to $500 in fines
Aggravated domestic assault – Second-degree felony:
- 2 to 20 years in prison and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Aggravated domestic assault involving the use of a deadly weapon and causing
serious injury – First-degree felony:
- 5 to 99 years of imprisonment and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Continuous violence against the family – Third-degree felony:
- 2 to 10 years in prison and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
The prison terms and fines above denote the range of sentences. Just because you have been accused of family violence does not mean you will be subject to the maximums. Depending on your case, you may be able to seek to avoid or minimize the penalties. A domestic violence lawyer can help pursue a favorable outcome, such as having charges dropped or getting a reduced sentence.
Reach out to Drehner Law to learn about your options for fighting your charge.
Other Consequences of Family Violence Harris County
Incarceration and/or fines are not the only sanctions levied in a domestic violence case. Those accused may be prohibited from possessing or purchasing a firearm. Additionally, gun rights could be revoked under federal law (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9)) if the individual is convicted of domestic violence – even if the offense was only a misdemeanor.
Accusations can also result in a domestic violence restraining order taken out against the alleged offender. Referred to in Texas as family violence protective orders, these documents place restrictions and limitations on the person before the underlying criminal case has been decided.
Under a domestic violence restraining order, the individual may be:
- Prohibited from remaining in a home they share with the protected person,
- Prohibited from contacting the protected person in any way,
- Ordered to attend counseling, and
- Subject to various other sanctions.
Violating a protective order is serious. The individual could be found in contempt of court and be subject to a fine of up to $500 and/or jail time for up to 6 months. They may also be charged with a class A misdemeanor and sentenced to up to 1 year in jail and/or up-to $4,000 in fines. However, if the violation constituted a felony domestic violence offense, it’s punishable by at least 2 years in prison.
Speak with a domestic violence lawyer about your case to get a complete picture of the consequences of a charge.
How Can I Get Domestic Violence Charges Dropped?
In short, you can’t. And neither can the alleged victim. Only the prosecutor has the authority to drop charges. That means talking to the person who reported the incident and trying to convince them to take back the allegations will not affect whether charges are filed. In fact, attempting to reason with the victim could have negative consequences.
Family violence in Harris County is taken very seriously. To protect the public's safety, the prosecutor may continue with the case, even if the alleged victim says they no longer want to cooperate.
Thus, even if accusations were made falsely or in the heat of the moment, the accused may have to go through an emotional, lengthy, and complex criminal justice process. At Drehner Law, our Houston family violence lawyer is here to stand by you every step of the way, fiercely challenging the allegations.
What Can I Do If I’ve Been Accused of Domestic Violence?
Although this can be an overwhelming and stressful experience, the important thing is to stay calm. If you let your emotions get the better of you, you might do or say something that could adversely impact your case later.
When law enforcement officers show up, you might feel inclined to share your side of the story and argue why an arrest is unwarranted. However, resisting the arrest could lead to further charges and making a statement could result in your inadvertently saying something self-incriminating.
In this situation, the thing to do is to contact our domestic violence attorney in Houston. We can provide the advice and guidance you need even at the early stages of your case.
As soon as we’re involved, we’ll review and analyze the evidence, conduct our own investigation, and build an aggressive strategy. We’ll zealously defend you and ensure that your voice is heard.
Call to Speak With Our Houston Domestic Violence Lawyer
Houston Domestic violence attorney Shannon Drehner has handled hundreds of family violence cases in her career. These cases are aggressively pursued and prosecuted in the local courts, which is why you should seek the services of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. She knows that officers and prosecutors who make charging decisions fail to have all the information to make a reasoned decision.
In any trial case, presenting and challenging the state’s evidence with a Houston domestic violence lawyer who has a credible presence is key to winning at trial. This is especially true for family violence cases. Attorney Drehner has the experience, poise, and credibility needed when so much is at stake.
With your reputation and livelihood on the line, the importance of having an experienced attorney by your side has never been greater. Contact Drehner Law at (832) 558-7798.
Truly one of the hardest and most understanding lawyers that I have ever had.H. N.
She is very professional.A. Charco
My case dropped from a felony to a misdeamnor!M. Hicks