Fighting to Help Clients Defend Their Rights and Reputation
If you have been charged with domestic violence, you could face significant time in jail and even be forced to leave your home until your legal issues are resolved. A domestic violence conviction can negatively impact your life and limit your legal rights and the goals you have set for yourself.
For example, individuals convicted of domestic violence-related charges are prohibited from possessing firearms. Additionally, a domestic violence conviction can influence your ability to obtain gainful employment, educational opportunities, and housing due to the ease of running background checks.
Finally, if you have a previous domestic violence conviction, your charges can be enhanced from a misdemeanor to a felony.
For these reasons, it is in your best interests to hire an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer who can advise you on your legal rights and protect your freedom. Contact Drehner Law of Houston, TX, to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence?
Texas law breaks down domestic violence crimes into two separate categories: family violence and dating violence.
Family violence, also called domestic assault, includes any action that results in a family or household member suffering physical harm, such as hitting or slapping, in addition to sexual assault or bodily injury. Texas law defines family or household members as:
- Current or former spouse or partner
- A parent or foster parent
- Child or foster child
- Parent of the defendant’s child.
Typically, a defendant will be charged with a misdemeanor when arrested for domestic abuse, they are charged with a misdemeanor. However, the charge may quickly be upgraded to a felony if the defendant has a previous domestic violence assault conviction.
The laws that regulate dating violence mirror those of family violence. As a result, if the defendant commits a physical or sexual assault against their current or ex-boyfriend or girlfriend that causes serious bodily injury, they may be charged with dating violence, also a misdemeanor. Additionally, just as with family violence, a defendant’s charges may be upgraded to a felony if they have a previous conviction. However, the court will consider the length and nature of the dating relationship when reviewing the case.
What Are the Different Criminal Charges Associated With Domestic Violence?
There are several different criminal charges related to domestic violence in Texas. Some of the most common criminal charges include:
The defendant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused harm to another and is typically charged as a class A misdemeanor. However, if the offender commits a second domestic assault offense, it is charged as a second-degree felony. In cases where the offender is accused of using a deadly weapon or causing serious bodily injury, they may be charged with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony.
Injury to a Child
Texas takes a tough stance on any violent acts committed against children. If a defendant is accused of intentionally or knowingly causing a serious physical or mental injury to a child under 14, they can be charged with a first-degree felony. If the offense was committed recklessly against a child, it is charged as a second-degree felony.
Texas law defines stalking as when a defendant acts in a way that causes the alleged victim to feel threatened more than once. The allegation may include threats to the victim’s life, safety, or property or harassment. Stalking is a third-degree felony unless a prior conviction would enhance the charges to that of a second-degree felony.
In the context of domestic violence, a person could be charged with making a terroristic threat if it places another person in fear of impending serious bodily injury and can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor.
Assault by Strangulation
If a defendant is accused of choking a household member by applying pressure to their throat or neck or blocking the victim’s mouth or nose, they may be charged with assault by strangulation and may be charged as a third-degree felony. However, a subsequent offense will result in a second-degree felony charge.
If you are still trying to understand the various types of Texas domestic violence laws and how they may affect your case, contact Drehner Law of Houston, TX, to schedule a consultation with a qualified legal team member who can answer your questions.
Why is it Important to Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to Handle My Case?
Due to the serious nature of domestic violence charges, individuals must obtain qualified legal representation immediately. Often, the police are overzealous when it comes to arresting an individual based on the allegations of the accuser. In other instances, if an accuser and the defendant are involved in a child custody case, the alleged victim may make false allegations to make it challenging for the defendant in family court.
If you have been charged in a criminal case, you must have a skilled defense attorney who will review the evidence and determine what legal strategy would be best. For example, depending on the circumstances involved, an attorney may be able to counter the prosecution’s case by asserting the following legal defenses:
- The accused acted in self-defense.
- The accused was acting in defense of property.
- The accused is the victim of false allegations and is, therefore, innocent of the charges.
Additionally, a highly trained domestic violence defense lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecution to have the charges reduced or possibly dismissed. In other instances, a defense lawyer may be able to ask the defendant to be placed on probation rather than being required to serve jail time.
Finally, if you are an immigrant and have been accused of domestic violence, you must have a criminal defense lawyer on your side. If the court finds you guilty or there is an admission of guilt, this could lead to you being deported and being declared inadmissible to re-enter the country.
The legal team of Drehner Law of Houston, TX, has comprehensive experience with domestic violence allegations. Contact our law offices to learn more about the benefits of hiring a criminal defense attorney to handle your legal issues.
What Are the Criminal Penalties For Domestic Violence Convictions?
Texas has severe penalties for individuals convicted of domestic violence-related charges. However, the type of charge leveled against the accused will depend on several factors, such as the age of the victim, whether they suffered serious bodily injury, and whether the defendant has any prior criminal convictions.
Criminal penalties for domestic violence include:
- Class A misdemeanor domestic threat: A conviction can result in the defendant being sentenced to up to a year in the county jail, accompanied by a fine of up to $4,000.
- Third-degree felony domestic assault: The defendant can be sentenced to two to 10 years in prison, accompanied by a fine of up to $10,000.
- Second-degree felony domestic assault: The defendant can be sentenced to two to 20 years in prison, accompanied by a fine of up to $10,000.
Suppose an individual is convicted of a first-degree felony aggravated assault. In that case, they may be looking at spending anywhere from 5 to 99 years in prison, accompanied by a fine of up to $10,000. A defendant may be charged with a first-degree felony if they brandish a deadly weapon against a family or household member, even if they do not use the weapon.
Additionally, a defendant may also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim, complete mandatory substance abuse or domestic violence counseling, as well as lose their rights to possess or own a firearm.
Because of the defendant’s potential to be sentenced to jail or prison time, in addition to being ordered to pay steep fines, it is best to hire an experienced defense lawyer immediately. Hiring a lawyer as soon as possible gives defendants an advantage over those who wait, as their legal counsel can start from the beginning rather than have to play catch up later.
Contact Drehner Law of Houston and ask to schedule a free case evaluation of your case and determine how best to proceed with your defense.
Why Should I Choose Drehner Law to Defend Me in a Domestic Violence Case?
Individuals who have been charged with domestic violence may initially think they should try to handle their case independently without the help of an attorney. However, anyone charged with a domestic violence-related offense must hire an attorney who understands how to protect their client’s rights and will fight to protect their freedom.
Even if there is a deferred adjudication or probation in a family or dating violence case, Texas law considers it to be an admission of guilt. Deferred adjudication can only be ordered if the defendant pleads guilty or no contest, after which the judge may choose not to enter a finding of guilt. Our law firm can help you understand the legal complexities of domestic violence cases and the best options for your situation.
In other instances, the accuser may request an emergency protective order that prevents the defendant from communicating with them and staying a minimum distance from the victim, place of employment, or residence. Our knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights as the defendant so that you make choices that do not harm your case.
Our domestic violence criminal defense attorney will review your case and look for weaknesses in the state’s evidence and conflicting statements from the accuser and then determine what legal approach to use that will provide maximum results.
Finally, our legal team realizes that sometimes people make poor choices that cause them to become involved with the Texas criminal justice system. As a result, our entire staff strives to treat each client with the integrity and respect they deserve.