Heated arguments, strained relationships due to stressful situations such as financial trouble, and a feeling of lack of support can sow distrust, hurt, and resentment between family members. When those arguments go from harsh words to physical actions, such as throwing a punch, it turns into domestic violence.
According to the Texas Advocacy Project, 1 in 3 Texans will experience domestic violence at some point in their lifetime. Women who are the ages of 16-24 are the most likely individuals to experience domestic violence with an intimate partner.
Often, these cases begin as a simple misunderstanding between a husband and wife, two intimate partners, or two other people living in the same household. The argument leads to broken down channels of communication, straining the relationship further to the point where it spirals out of control. An object is thrown, someone gets pushed, and then a large-scale physical fight breaks out.
At some point of confusion, one of the individuals calls the police, hoping for assistance in settling the dispute. However, when the police officer arrives, not only are they able to get the dispute resolved for the moment, they may make an arrest and charge someone with domestic violence.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence falls under the charge of assault in Texas criminal law. The most common assault charges related to domestic violence situations include:
Types of Domestic Abuse
Assault to a Family Member by Causing Bodily Injury: This type of offense is considered a class A misdemeanor and can carry the punishment of zero to 365 days in county jail along with a fine up to $4,000.
Assault to a Family Member By Impeding Breath (Choking): This type of charge is considered a third degree felony and can carry penalties from two to 10 years in the State Penitentiary along with a fine of up to $10,000.
Assault to a Family Member With a Prior Assault: If you have been convicted of a previous assault and are charged again, this will be considered a third degree felony. This carries a penalty of two to 10 years in a State Penitentiary and a fine of up to $10,000.
Second Assault of a Family Member Within 12 Months: Two assaults in a year will be considered a third degree felony. This carried the penalties of two to 10 years in a State Penitentiary along with a fine of up to $10,000.
The legal team at Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC understands the reality of an assault conviction and how it can permanently affect someone’s life. This is why we work relentlessly to provide our clients with the strongest defense possible. We provide honest assessments of your case, fight so your voice is heard in court, and always keep you informed about the options available to you. Here is more information about our domestic violence defense attorney services:
Who Is Considered a Family Member or a Household Member in a Court of Law?
Texas State Law recognizes the following as either family members or household members:
- Two people related by blood or marriage.
- Two people who are spouses or former spouses.
- Individuals who share a child.
- Foster children and foster parents.
- People who are or were formerly in a dating or intimate relationship.
Protective Order Violation
In some cases, an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) will be ordered from the court and prohibit the defendant from getting near or performing certain behaviors toward the alleged victim. This can include the following behaviors/actions:
- Communicating with the alleged victim without legal counsel present.
- Harassing or threatening the alleged victim.
- Getting in within 500 feet of the victim or their residence.
An EPO can be issued on request from a police officer, an alleged “injured party,” or an attorney for the State. The EPO will be in effect for 31 to 91 days, depending on the nature of the case and the injuries involved.
An EPO issued for your case is a serious matter—don’t take it lightly. Follow all restrictions and guidelines outlined in your EPO. Violation of an EPO is a separate offense and could result in your chances of a dismissal or reduced charges being taken from you. Protect yourself and your case by following your EPO and contacting your attorney if you have any questions or concerns about it.
Cases of Family Or Child Abuse
Cases of child or family member abuse are serious crimes in the State of Texas. Especially concerning children, Texas’s laws are very clear as to what is considered abuse. The law says: “Any action that will inflict or the failure to prevent others from inflicting mental or emotional injuries that will impair a child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning. This also includes inflicting physical injury that will result in substantial harm, such as sexual abuse, exploitation, use of controlled substances that results in mental or physical harm to a child.”
Texas Child Abuse Charges and Penalties
If the child abuse charge involves an assault, the accused will face state penalties for any and all injuries to that child. This is the same for family abuse cases that deal with disabled or elderly individuals. The specific type of child abuse charge given depends on the intent of the accused and the nature of the injuries inflicted on the child.
- If an individual intentionally or knowingly caused bodily harm to a child, they can be charged with a felony in the first degree under Texas penal code 22.04. This is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum fine of up to $10,000.
- If the parent’s actions towards the child are considered reckless, this is considered a state jail felony, and is punishable by 180 days to 2 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the alleged offender is found to have intentionally or knowingly caused serious bodily injury or serious mental deficiency, impairment, or injury to a child, this is considered a first degree felony. It is punishable by up to 99 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- If the accused is being charged with child abuse of a sexual nature, and the child is younger than 17 years of age, this is considered a second degree felony. It is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the accused is being charged with threatening a child to perform or receive a sexual act, it is considered aggravated sexual assault. These charges are a first degree felony, which is punishable by five years to life in prison plus hefty fines. If the child is younger than six years old or was asked to do specific acts and is under the age of 14, the minimum term for imprisonment will be increased to 25 years.
Have You Been Charged With Domestic Violence in Fort Worth?
Every year, thousands of individuals are falsely accused of domestic violence. These charges are serious and can have lifelong consequences that will follow the accused for life if they are charged. If you find yourself in the position of being accused of domestic violence, you need to seek out the professional help of a domestic violence defense attorney.
The legal team at Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC is dedicated to making sure individuals accused of domestic assault have a fair trial. We understand that this is a stressful time for not only our clients but also for the families involved. We work to ensure your voice is heard, present the facts of your case clearly, and get you the best outcome possible. Contact us today for more information on our services or to schedule an appointment to go over the facts of your case.
Domestic Violence FAQs
How Long Do You Go to Jail For in a Domestic Violence Case?
Domestic violence cases have varying county jail or state penitentiary sentences depending on the severity of the case. These jail sentences are as follows:
- Misdemeanor class C: No jail or prison time
- Misdemeanor class A: Up to a year in State
- Felony in the third degree: Two to 10 years in prison
- Felony in the second degree: Two to 20 years in prison
- Felony in the first degree: Five to 99 years in prison
Is There a Bond for Domestic Violence in Texas?
Bail is determined by the court, based on the offender’s record and whether they have previous domestic violence convictions. Once your bail amount has been determined, you will want to contact a bail bond agent.