Hidalgo County in South Texas recently opened a Domestic Violence Court program, which is intended to rehabilitate first-time offenders. The program offers deferred adjudication, in which defendants will not be convicted if they complete the program successfully.
The Hidalgo County Domestic Violence Court program is the first of its kind in South Texas, and was opened after the Hidalgo County Community Supervision and Corrections Department received a $185,000 grant through the Texas Governor’s Office. Participation in the program is by application only, and is limited to first-time offenders facing misdemeanor-level charges. The program graduated its first three defendants late last month.
However, this program is quite rare in Texas, meaning that most people accused of domestic violence can expect standard criminal and civil proceedings.
What does this mean if you have been charged in our state? Nothing good. Depending on the nature of the accusation against you, there are substantial criminal penalties and the possibility of long lasting civil restrictions.
Let’s look a bit closer at the law in Texas.
How Texas Defines Domestic Violence
The use of force or the threat of force in domestic situations that causes bodily harm, threatens to cause bodily harm or causes any kind of physical contact with the victim may be considered domestic violence here in the Lone Star State.
To get a conviction for domestic violence, the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant performed this act knowingly or intentionally. If bodily injury occurred, prosecution must also prove that the defendant’s actions were reckless and resulted in that bodily injury.
Domestic Assault Penalties
Domestic assault is defined as assault committed against a family member, household member, or past romantic partner. For first-time offenders, domestic assault is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
If the defendant has any prior domestic assault conviction, simple domestic assault is charged as a Third-degree felony punishable by 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravated Domestic Assault Penalties
Aggravated domestic assault is an assault committed in a domestic situation in which the defendant caused serious bodily injury or used or threatened to use a deadly weapon.
In most cases, aggravated domestic assault is charged as a second-degree felony punishable by 2-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the defendant committed the assault with a deadly weapon and caused serious bodily injury, the assault is charged as a first-degree felony punishable by 5-99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Continuous Violence Against the Family
Commission of two or more domestic assaults within 12 months can result in charges for Continuous Violence Against the Family. A defendant can be convicted of this crime if either assault resulted in either arrest or conviction, and the two assaults need not have been committed against the same victim.
Continuous Violence Against the Family is charged as a third-degree felony and is punishable by 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Facing Texas Domestic Violence Charges?
At the Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys, PLLC, we contend that domestic violence should never be tolerated, nor should false or exaggerated claims used to seek revenge or gain legal leverage. Moreover, everyone has the right to the best possible defense and to be treated as innocent until proven guilty.
Serious charges such as domestic violence require serious legal representation. To fight back and reach a positive outcome against domestic violence charges, it is imperative to retain a knowledgeable and skilled Fort Worth Criminal Defense Attorney.
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.