If you have been recently arrested on charges of domestic violence in the Fort Worth Area or throughout the state of Texas, you could be facing serious, long-term consequences upon a conviction. And only by availing yourself of an experienced defense attorney can you maximize your chances of winning your case.
At The Law Office of Brian J. Newman, we understand the details of Texas law concerning domestic violence cases, and we are familiar with the inner workings of local Forth Worth court processes. Attorney Brian J. Newman has successfully handled numerous domestic violence cases in the past and will know how to build a solid defense for your case as well.
What Is "Domestic Violence?"
Legally, "domestic violence" is defined as inflicting bodily harm against, threatening to inflict such harm, or touching in a sexual or otherwise offensive manner, anyone with whom you have a familial or romantic relationship.
More specifically, persons against whom acts or threats of violence are considered "domestic" include: spouses, former spouses, someone you are now or once were dating, anyone with whom you live, any family member whatsoever (including in-laws), and children, be they your own, those of a spouse or former spouse, a foster child, or an adopted child.
Classes of Domestic Violence
In Texas, there are a number of different specific classes of domestic violence and not merely a general category. Each class has its own definition and may be punished somewhat differently. The details of the case and the defendant's past criminal history will also affect the sentence, and Texas sentencing rules are very complex.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand the different classes of domestic violence, which include the following:
- Domestic assault: If one willfully or with reckless indifference inflicts bodily injury on someone with whom they have a "domestic relation," it is an act of domestic assault. Threatening to inflict physical harm or contacting the person in an offensive manner also count as assault. If you act with extreme disregard for the safety of others, that is "reckless indifference." If you touch someone either sexually or in a harassing manner, so that they feel, and reasonably could be expected to feel, violated, that is touching in an "offensive manner."
- Aggravated domestic assault: The charge of domestic assault attains to aggravated status and incurs more severe punishments, if the bodily injury inflicted is "serious" or if the offender makes use of a "deadly weapon" while committing the crime. "Serious bodily injuries involve such things as broken bones, permanent disfigurement, and deep cuts and lacerations. They go well beyond a small scrape, scratch, or bruise. Also note that anything can be a "deadly weapon" if it is used in a way that could cause serious injury or death. While guns and knives may be the most obvious such weapons, a baseball bat or an automobile could also qualify.
- Continuous domestic violence: If someone commits two or more acts of domestic violence within the same year, regardless of whether or not it was against the same person, it constitutes "continuous violence against the family." It is not even necessary the offender was convicted of or even arrested for both incidents, if it can be proven that two or more incidents did, in fact, occur in one year.
Possible Punishments for Domestic Violence
Again, it is possible that your sentence will vary based on your past record or other factors, and a good defense lawyer may be able to get your charge/sentence reduced if not eliminated. But here are the basics of how domestic violence is punished in Texas:
- Domestic assault is a Class-A misdemeanor, which can get you 12 months in county jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
- Continuous violence against the family is a third-degree felony charge, which brings two to 10 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- Aggravated domestic violence is often a second-degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
- Aggravated domestic violence in which serious bodily injury was inflicted or a deadly weapon was used is a first-degree felony, punishable by five to 99 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Also note that those convicted of assault must pay full restitution to the victim(s). This means medical expenses, counseling costs, and reimbursement for property damage.
Alternatives to Incarceration Time
While the above list of possible punishments for a domestic violence conviction includes much jail/prison time, there are ways that a good defense lawyer can help you escape time behind bars.
First, there is the possibility of "deferred adjudication." This means that you enter a "guilty" plea in exchange for a delay in sentencing and a chance to avoid jail/prison time. You will have to fulfill a number of conditions, such as a probationary period, avoiding any new crimes in the interim, and "volunteering" for community service. If all of this is satisfied and a certain amount of time elapses, the judge then discharges your case. If you fail to fulfill the terms of the adjudication, however, you will be convicted and likely see jail time. Only first-time offenders and those accused of non-aggravated domestic assault are typically offered deferred adjudication.
The second alternative to jail/prison time is called "community supervision." Again, you enter a "guilty" plea, and in exchange, you get a probationary ("community supervision") period instead of jail time. Misdemeanor domestic assault can get up to 2 years of probation, while felony level domestic assault can get up to 10 years. Often, you will have to spend at least some time behind bars before your community supervision period begins (30 days for misdemeanors and 180 days for felonies is usual.) You will have to submit to such terms as a curfew, random drug testing, and remaining employed, all enforced by a probation officer.
Common Defense Strategies
At the Law Office of Brian J. Newman, we use a wide range of defense strategies to defend against charges of domestic violence, but here are three of the most common:
- Accidental injury: It may be that the defendant never intended to injure anyone — it was simply an accident. However, this must mean that the act itself was unintentional, for if the act could reasonably be expected to cause injury, intending the act is sufficient for a conviction. And it cannot be that the defendant acted with reckless indifference when the "accident" took place. But there are many times when a genuine accident may have occurred, and the defendant is not guilty of domestic violence in such cases.
- False accusations: It may be that the defendant was falsely accused by someone with a grudge against him/her. This is not at all uncommon in these types of cases. A good defense lawyer can often unravel the fabricated allegations of the accuser and win a dismissal or acquittal.
- Defense of self, others, or property: This is the most common of all defenses in domestic violence cases, and it essentially makes the defendant the true victim. If the defendant acted in self-defense, there must have been a real, imminent, illegal threat of force that he/she defended against with an appropriate level of counter-force. It must also be that there was no way for the defendant to simply escape and avoid the conflict altogether. Defense of others carries most of the same "rules" but simply involves a threat against another person instead of against yourself. Defense of property is similar, but but force must still be "reasonable" and cannot be used to seize disputed property.
Call Us Today For Help
At The Law Office of Brian J. Newman, we have a deep understanding of how the Texas legal code and local Fort Worth Area court systems work in regard to domestic violence charges. Brian J. Newman knows how to win you the best possible outcome to your case, and he will work tirelessly in your behalf from day one.
To learn more about Texas domestic violence cases or for a free legal consultation on the details of your case, call Brian J. Newman anytime 24/7 at 817-231-0023.