Facing accusations or being apprehended for domestic violence in Southlake, Texas, can be a harrowing experience. It’s vital to understand the intricacies of the legal framework, irrespective of the nature of your Domestic Violence case – be it a felony or misdemeanor, to ensure fair treatment. This guide seeks to offer you a feasible blueprint to navigate this complex situation, aiming to help you move past this charge and potentially clear your record.
Domestic violence cases in Texas often carry a significant social stigma, with many people quick to assume guilt or danger associated with the accused. This is particularly true if you have been charged with domestic violence assault or found in breach of a protective order.
Individuals experiencing their first encounter with domestic violence charges usually find themselves grappling with fear and uncertainty about the repercussions. The anxiety over potential re-arrest and the stress of possibly being unable to expunge the charge from their history is immense. Concerns regarding job security and lasting damage to one’s reputation are widespread.
It’s completely normal to have these fears and concerns. Nonetheless, the optimal way to counteract these feelings is to familiarize yourself with the domestic violence case defense procedures and to take a proactive stance. Concentrate on elements that you can influence to protect your future prospects.
Before we explore a firsthand account of how The Hampton Criminal Defense Lawyers, PLLC successfully represented a client in a grave felony domestic violence matter, it’s vital to be aware of the types of Domestic Violence cases acknowledged by the law in Texas:
- Assault causing bodily injury to a family member
- Repeated bodily injury assault on a family member
- Assault on a family member involving breath obstruction
- Aggravated assault on a family member
- Terroristic threat towards a family member
- Violation of a protective order
- Multiple violations of a bond/protective order within a year
- Persistent family violence
- Contact assault involving a family member
Let’s now delve into an authentic case where a domestic violence charge in Texas was successfully defended:
Approximately six months ago, a young man reached out to us after being arrested on a charge of felony family violence involving strangulation, leading to a few days of incarceration before managing to secure bail at the Tarrant County Corrections Center.
Let’s call him Brad (name altered to protect privacy), who felt his world was unraveling. During our phone consultation, Brad’s distress and fear regarding the potential repercussions on his personal freedom, pristine criminal record, and employment were palpable.
Being a successful business executive locally, Brad was horrified at the thought that this charge might demolish everything he had built. Despite the conflict, he harbored strong affection for his girlfriend and was convinced that the situation was a blown-out misunderstanding escalated by the police.
His foremost goal was to reestablish communication with his girlfriend, which led him to his pressing question…
Is there a way to have an Emergency Protective Order revoked before the case gets dismissed?
In this case, the answer was affirmative! Our office had already been in touch with Brad’s girlfriend, who indicated no desire to proceed with the charges, and was willing to present an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution. It became vital for Brad to comprehend the procedure to revoke an Emergency Protective Order, which by law, is implemented automatically in felony domestic violence cases.
Clients often find it perplexing why these protective orders are put into place even when the supposed victim opts not to press charges. I clarified to Brad that these measures are statutory in all felony family violence situations in Texas. Therefore, until we could modify the protective order, he was barred from initiating any contact with his girlfriend to avoid facing an additional charge: violation of a Protective Order, classified as a Class A Misdemeanor.
In this instance, Brad’s girlfriend reached out to our office seeking clarity on the police’s claims and was prepared to provide a detailed affidavit highlighting the real sequence of events.
Upon securing the affidavit of non-prosecution from her, we swiftly initiated a motion to modify the protective order and bond conditions, and set a hearing date to remove the constraints.
Although progress was being made, Brad was still apprehensive due to the information he encountered online, leading to further inquiries…
Approaching Domestic Violence Cases: The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office’s Strategy
I clarified to Brad that the District Attorney’s Office in Tarrant County, Texas, holds fast to a strict “No Drop” stance on cases involving family violence. This signifies that, irrespective of the incident not culminating in a crime, the office remains steadfast in its quest to scrutinize the case comprehensively and press charges according to the legal provisions.
Brad seemed baffled and queried, “Even if my girlfriend gives a genuine account of what transpired and assures that she wasn’t harmed in any way, would they still forge ahead with the charges?” Regrettably, the answer is affirmative in the majority of cases.
It is indeed lamentable that numerous police agencies and District Attorney Offices adhere to a “No Drop” Policy. Numerous situations occur where a conflict escalates and someone feels threatened, prompting a call to the police. Even in the absence of tangible proof of bodily harm, many officers are equipped to disperse the individuals involved at the scene, with the arrest of the presumed perpetrator being the primary method of achieving this.
Brad found it disheartening to discover that domestic violence cases are managed this way by the prosecution, leading him to inquire further…
What Role Does a Non-Prosecution Affidavit Play in My Domestic Violence Case?
I highlighted to Brad that a Non-Prosecution Affidavit could serve as a cornerstone in building a solid defense, holding as much weight as the police document. I informed him that a range of elements might encourage an alleged victim to submit a non-prosecution affidavit, such as:
- Influence of Alcohol on the Victim – If the purported victim was intoxicated at the time of the event, their impassioned and perhaps inebriated remarks might not paint an accurate picture of the occurrences. It’s thus vital for the witness to present a precise recollection once sober.
- Emotional State of the Victim – During emotionally charged moments, individuals might perceive events differently, resulting in potentially distorted testimonies. It’s not uncommon for people to retract or amend statements made in a heightened emotional state.
- Potential Police Persuasion during Victim Testimony – On occasions, the police might employ suggestive questioning techniques which influence an emotionally distraught victim to narrate a particular version of events. This could result in an account that does not genuinely mirror the incident.
In the case of Brad, his girlfriend acknowledged her alcohol consumption and emotional agitation over perceived unfaithfulness, which led to her exaggerated response. She needed to submit a detailed non-prosecution affidavit that indicated her unwillingness to press charges, along with evidence supporting Brad’s innocence.
Brad harbored fears regarding the Grand Jury’s possible judgment, apprehensive that the non-prosecution affidavit might not prevent a misdemeanor charge being levied against him in the domestic violence case. He wondered about other available avenues that might facilitate case dismissal without venturing into a precarious jury trial, paving the way for another potential solution.
Navigating through the Domestic Violence Diversion Program – A Gateway to Case Dismissal
I apprised Brad about the Domestic Violence Diversion Program initiated by Tarrant County, Texas, which could potentially lead to the nullification of the case, followed by the possibility of record expungement. To be eligible, several criteria need to be satisfied, including:
- Occurrence of a domestic violence event
- Absence of prior or active protective order breaches
- No existing stalking accusations
- Absence of outstanding warrants concerning the current or other allegations
- No simultaneous charges
- No prior involvement in a diversion scheme
- Willingness to adhere to program directives
- Consent from the alleged victim for participation
After successfully navigating through the program, individuals can have the charges withdrawn, followed by a stipulated waiting duration to initiate the process for criminal record expungement.
Brad was somewhat hesitant, considering the unpredictable nature of the program and the already fragile stance of the government’s case due to his girlfriend’s non-prosecution affidavit. I reassured him that considering the Diversion Program could act as a contingency plan.
Subsequently, Brad probed, “In case the charges are not nullified as per the aforementioned strategies, is there a different pathway to demonstrate my innocence?” Absolutely!
Exercising Your Constitutional Right to a Jury Trial
Every inhabitant of the U.S. is constitutionally entitled to a jury trial. By law, the prosecution must substantiate all aspects of a crime beyond reasonable doubt, necessitating a unanimous decision from the jury for a conviction. If the prosecution cannot fulfill this burden of proof, the jury is expected to return a NOT GUILTY verdict.
I elucidated to Brad that opting for a jury trial remains a viable choice if other defenses fail to lead to charge withdrawal. Due to the restrictions on expungement or non-disclosure following any probationary period, cases of domestic violence frequently proceed to trial. Hence, resorting to a jury trial may become imperative if alternative strategies falter.
In Brad’s situation, the indications leaned towards a not guilty verdict. Fortunately, the case was quashed before reaching the trial phase. Brad was ecstatic to learn that the grand jury had decided to abandon his case, thus vindicating him fully without the unpredictability associated with a jury trial.
Relieved to detach himself from the clutches of the criminal justice system, Brad was eager to explore avenues to erase the arrest from his criminal history.
Addressing a Home-Based Violence Arrest on Your Criminal History
In a recent incident, Brad saw his case being overturned by a jury in Tarrant County. As per the governing statutes in Texas, a span of three years from the date of the no-bill needs to be completed before initiating an expunction process. This regulation seems rather unjust to Brad, who believed it wasn’t right to have this incident linger on his record following his acquittal.
Nonetheless, possessing the Grand Jury No-Bill documentation stood as a testament to his acquittal, which could be presented to prospective employers or others necessitating verification.
In scenarios where the accusation was of a lesser degree, constituting a misdemeanor concerning domestic violence, the waiting period to petition for expunction would have been a reduced two years post the case dismissal. Moreover, for incidents classified under Class C Assault by Contact, one might qualify for immediate expunction upon the dismissal of the charges.
Brad expressed his thankfulness for our role in facilitating the dismissal of his case through the grand jury. This instance underscored the vital role of adopting forward-thinking defensive strategies.
In the event that you or someone you know finds themselves in a comparable situation, we urge you to get in touch without delay for a complimentary case evaluation. We stand prepared to address your concerns and assist you in navigating the forthcoming procedures.