Domestic violence occurs when a person commits an assault upon a family or household member. Charges of Continuous Violence Against the Family may be brought when someone commits two acts of domestic violence within a twelve-month period.
Beware, neither incident of domestic assault has to have resulted in arrest or conviction, and even when the alleged assaults refer to more than a single victim, you may be charged. The crime is a felony of the third degree.
If you are currently facing allegations of continuous family violence, it is imperative you speak with an experienced Texas family violence attorney as soon as you can.
This charge can elevate your misdemeanor offenses to felony charges, and Texas domestic violence law grants the court wide discretion when it comes to civil penalties – not to mention the social repercussions you will be subjected to if convicted.
Texas Criminal Penalties for Family Violence
Whereas a Class A Misdemeanor charge for a single offense of domestic violence carries a one-year jail sentence and a $4,000 fine, according to Penal Code, a Continuous Violence Against the Family conviction in Texas can be far more steep.
When the court rules against you on even just two offenses within a single year, your fine could nearly triple ($10,000 max), and you could face a prison term 10 times as long (up to 10 years).
You may also be required to complete a rehabilitation program designed specifically for domestic violence offenders.
Further, the statute says it does not “deprive the court of authority” to impose other penalties such as suspending or cancelling various licenses or permits, or forcing the offender to forfeit certain property. The law also grants the court permission to include any other civil penalty it warrants.
Court Discretion Regarding Additional Civil Penalties in Texas
Due to the growing body of research showing long-term adverse physical and mental health effects upon victims of family violence – children and adults – Texas courts have taken a hardline approach to curtailing repeat offenders.
One way to do that is by requiring an offender to pay restitution. Should a victim incur expenses in conjunction with any instance of domestic assault – the cost of medical treatment, therapy, or even repair and replacement of any property damaged during a given incident – it is entirely up to the court whether and how much the offender will pay.
In any case, a protective order is likely to accompany your judgment, and the exact terms will depend upon the circumstances surrounding your case. These orders only impose further limitations upon you, and could quite possibly leave you searching for separate housing from your family while you continue to pay for their living expenses – it may even prevent you from visiting with your children altogether.
The Social Repercussions
When you are convicted of felony domestic violence charges such as this one, the conviction lands on your permanent record and lists the exact offense(s). This can have serious repercussions.
You immediately lose your right to own or possess firearms. It can affect your employment and housing opportunities, and eliminate your eligibility for certain types of educational and other financial aid. Depending on the exact crime, you may even have to report your information to other public sources for a period of time – or indefinitely.
As you can see, charges of continued family violence are no joke in Texas. You are going to need the most effective defense team you can find to ensure you don’t end up paying a hefty price.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.