Arlington Domestic Violence Lawyer: How to Respond When Faced with Domestic Violence Charges in Texas
Are you facing domestic violence accusations, or have you been taken into custody for a domestic violence charge in Arlington, Texas? It’s crucial to comprehend the regulations of the criminal justice system, whether your Domestic Violence case is classified as a felony or misdemeanor, to ensure you are dealt with justly.
The information provided here is intended to be a practical roadmap in traversing this matter and give you the best chance to put this domestic violence charge behind you and clean your record.
Texas criminal cases scarcely bear a more severe stigma than domestic violence cases. People usually jump to the conclusion that you must be a domestic abuser or a threat if you’ve been charged with domestic violence assault or violate a protective order.
First-time domestic violence offenders are often afraid of what may unfold following their arrest and charge. The fear of re-incarceration is overwhelming. Sleepless nights spent worrying if they will be able to expunge the domestic violence charge from their record are common. Are they at risk of losing their job? Has their reputation been permanently stained?
These concerns and fears are entirely normal. However, the best way to overcome these emotions is to better understand the defense process for a domestic violence case and start becoming proactive. Focus on aspects you can control to safeguard your future.
Before delving into a real-life account of how The Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys, PLLC successfully defended a highly severe felony domestic violence case, it’s important to understand the range of Domestic Violence cases recognized under Texas law:
- Family Member Bodily Injury Assault
- Family Member Bodily Injury Assault – with Prior
- Family Member Breath Impeding Assault
- Family Member Aggravated Assault
- Family Member Terroristic Threat
- Breach of a Protective Order
- Breach of a Bond/Protective Order Twice or More within 12 months
- Continuous Family Violence
- Family Member Contact Assault
Now, let’s examine a real-life example of successfully defending a domestic violence charge in Texas:
About half a year ago, we were contacted by a young man who had been arrested on a felony family violence strangulation charge and spent several days in jail before being able to post bail at the Tarrant County Corrections Center.
Brad (name changed for privacy) felt like his life was falling apart. He was visibly distressed during our phone conversation and panicked about the potential impacts on his freedom, his clean criminal record, and his job.
Brad was a thriving business executive at a local firm, and he was terrified that this charge would shatter everything he had worked for. He had deep feelings for his girlfriend and believed the whole incident was a misunderstanding that law enforcement had exaggerated.
His immediate aspiration was to reconnect and converse with his girlfriend, leading to his primary inquiry…
How Can I Get an Emergency Protective Order Lifted? Is it Feasible Before the Case is Dismissed?
In this scenario, YES! Brad’s girlfriend already communicated with our office, stating she did not want to proceed with the case and was ready to issue an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution. It was crucial for Brad to understand how to lift an Emergency Protective Order. Such orders are enforced by law automatically if the domestic violence charge is a felony.
Clients are typically puzzled as to why an emergency protective order is enacted when the alleged victim does not wish to prosecute the charge. Texas law mandates this for all felony family violence cases. Consequently, I explained to Brad that until we could adjust the protective order, he was not allowed any contact with his girlfriend. If he chose to communicate with her, he could be charged with another crime: Infringement of a Protective Order, a Class A Misdemeanor.
In Brad’s situation, his girlfriend contacted our office to find out what the police were alleging and sought the opportunity to issue an affidavit of non-prosecution and clarify the actual events.
Once we received an affidavit of non-prosecution from Brad’s girlfriend, we promptly filed a motion to adjust the protective order and bond conditions and arranged a hearing to lift the restrictions.
Although relieved that things were moving forward, Brad was troubled by what he had found online. He inquired further…
How Does the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office Deal with Domestic Violence Cases?
I explained to Brad that the District Attorney’s Office in Tarrant County, Texas, maintains a rigid “No Drop” Policy on Family Violence cases. Meaning, even if the incident didn’t result in a crime, the District Attorney’s Office would persist in pursuing the case and prosecute to the full extent of the law.
Brad was confused. He asked, “What if my girlfriend is absolutely clear about the real events? What if she wasn’t hurt or injured at all? Do they still pursue the charges?” Regrettably, most of the time, yes.
It’s unfortunate that many police departments and District Attorney Offices uphold a “No Drop” Policy. There are countless scenarios where a disagreement escalates, and someone feels violated and decides to alert the police. Despite a lack of physical injury evidence, many police officers are trained to separate the parties at the scene, and arresting the assumed offender is the most effective way to do this.
Brad was upset to learn that prosecutors handled domestic violence cases in this fashion, so he asked…
How Can a Non-Prosecution Affidavit Help My Domestic Violence Case?
A Non-Prosecution Affidavit plays a pivotal role in your defense, just as influential as the police report. I let Brad know that several factors may motivate a supposed victim to provide a non-prosecution affidavit:
- Victim’s Intoxication – If the alleged victim was under the influence at the incident’s time, their emotionally charged and intoxicated statements might inaccurately represent the events. That’s why it’s important for the witness to offer an accurate account when sober.
- Victim’s Emotional State – People often misconstrue events when they’re feeling emotional, leading to misleading statements. Many have stated something in anger, necessitating a clarification of their actual intention afterward.
- Police Influence on the Victim’s Statement – Sometimes, police can use leading questions to coax a specific narrative from an emotionally vulnerable victim. The victim might inadvertently provide information that doesn’t truly reflect the situation.
In Brad’s scenario, his girlfriend confessed to having consumed alcohol and being upset due to suspected infidelity, leading to an overreaction. She had to provide a comprehensive statement through a non-prosecution affidavit, indicating her refusal to press charges and outlining facts proving Brad’s innocence.
Brad was worried about the Grand Jury’s potential verdict, fearing that even with a non-prosecution affidavit, he could face a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. He was curious if any alternative routes could lead to the dismissal of his case without resorting to a risky jury trial. This led us to another potential strategy.
The Domestic Violence Diversion Program – A Pathway to Dismissal
I briefed Brad on the Domestic Violence Diversion Program offered by Tarrant County, Texas. This program could potentially lead to a case dismissal and subsequent eligibility for expunction. To qualify, the following conditions must be met:
- Domestic violence incident
- No prior or ongoing violations of a protective order
- No stalking charges
- No outstanding warrants related to the current or other charges
- No concurrent charges
- No previous participation in a diversion program
- Agreement to comply with program requirements
- Alleged victim’s consent for participation
Upon the program’s successful completion, the charges are dropped. There’s a mandatory waiting period, after which you may expunge the arrest and charges from your records.
Brad was skeptical due to the program’s uncertainties and his girlfriend’s non-prosecution affidavit already weakening the government’s case. I assured him that the Diversion Program could serve as a backup plan.
Brad then asked, “If the charges can’t be dismissed based on what you’ve mentioned, is there another way to establish my innocence?” Yes!
Your Constitutional Right to a Jury Trial
Every U.S. citizen has a Constitutional right to a trial by jury. Legally, the state must prove all crime components beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury’s verdict must be unanimous. If the State of Texas fails to meet the burden of proof, the jury should declare a NOT GUILTY verdict.
I explained to Brad that he always has the option of a jury trial if the charges aren’t dropped based on our previous defenses. Due to the non-eligibility for expunction or non-disclosure of a case after any probation period, domestic violence cases often end up in trial. Therefore, a jury trial might become necessary if all other options fail.
In Brad’s case, the evidence favored a not guilty verdict. But it never reached the trial stage. Brad was overjoyed when we informed him that his case had been dismissed by the grand jury, thus completely exonerating him without the uncertainty of a jury trial.
Relieved to be free of the criminal justice system, Brad wanted to know how he could clear his criminal record of the arrest.
Clearing a Domestic Violence Arrest from Your Criminal Record
Brad’s case was dismissed by a Tarrant County Grand Jury. According to Texas law, he must wait for three years from the no-bill date before applying for an expunction. This news disappointed Brad as he felt it unfair to bear this record after his exoneration.
However, he was glad to have the Grand Jury No-Bill document as evidence of his exoneration for potential employers or anyone seeking proof.
If it had been a misdemeanor domestic violence case, Brad would have to wait for two years post-dismissal to apply for expunction. In the case of a Class C Assault by Contact citation, expunction eligibility may be immediate upon charge dismissal.
Brad was grateful we could get his case dismissed by the grand jury. But this experience serves as a reminder of the importance of proactive defense measures.
If you or a loved one face similar circumstances, don’t hesitate to reach out for a free case analysis. We’re ready to answer your queries and guide you through the next steps.