Houston Domestic Violence Lawyer
In Texas, domestic or family violence accusations are approached with a high level of seriousness. If police respond to your residence on a domestic violence call, you can expect to be arrested before allegations are found to be valid. More than that, the state no longer dismisses cases even if a spouse wishes to drop the charges.
Cases of domestic violence and family violence are not handled by the family court. Instead, they are handled by a criminal attorney in criminal court because of the nature of such crimes and acts of violence. The Houston domestic violence lawyers at Ayson Law Firm have been handling cases of domestic violence for over a decade.
The first thing to understand about an allegation of family violence is that it carries serious life-changing consequences. In such circumstances, it is imperative that you contact a smart and aggressive criminal law attorney who also understands family law. Attorney Brian Ayson of Ayson Law Firm is a Houston family violence lawyer who can help you in such a situation. He knows the strategies that should be used to prevent the charge from becoming a conviction. He will also come up with a strong defense strategy in order to defend you and protect your rights.
Get help from a Houston Family Violence Lawyer
In all cases of family violence and domestic violence, the police will most likely make an arrest on the spot, whether or not guilt is proven. This arrest can be made without a warrant. As long as the officer had probable cause to believe that the person committed the act of violence against their spouse or significant other, they will make the arrest. Once the arrest is made and the charges are filed, dropping them can be extremely difficult.
That said, you need someone to help you through this difficult situation. A conviction on domestic violence charges can negatively impact you both now, and in the future. Not only do these offenses carry heavy penalties, but your rights as a gun owner could be taken away forever.
Houston Domestic Violence FAQs
What is Family Violence?
Family violence is the aggressive act of one family member towards another family member. The intent of such an act is to cause physical bodily harm to the victim. Acts of violence could be in the form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, bodily injury and similar acts, where the victim is unable to defend themselves. These acts of violence may not necessarily take place between a husband and wife. They may also take place between a girlfriend or boyfriend, roommates or anyone else living together. The offender may also have a past relationship with the victim. In Texas, fighting with your roommate can lead to an assault family violence charge.
How Is Domestic Violence Defined In Texas?
In Texas, domestic violence means an assault against a family member, household member, or a current or past dating partner defined as:
- intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person
- intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with imminent bodily injury; or
- intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another that the offender knows or reasonably should know the victim will find provocative or offensive.
How Do Police Determine The Aggressor In A Domestic Violence Situation?
Police will usually interview any witnesses including the complaining witness and if the accused is available, they will interview him or her. The police will look for scratches or bruises on either party and any evidence of a struggle. Unfortunately, if they discover signs of an altercation and the complaining witness claims the other party was the aggressor, the police will often arrest the accused even if the accused acted in self-defense. As this is often he said/she said situation (or he said/he said or she said/she said), it is extremely important to hire a skilled attorney to defend you against these serious charges.
What Charges Am I Facing If I Have Been Arrested For Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is covered by Texas Penal Code 22.01. This charge is a typically a Class A misdemeanor but is sometimes a Class C misdemeanor and can become a third-degree felony in certain situations. For example, if the accused has previously been convicted of this offense or the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly impeded the normal breathing or circulation of blood of the accuser by applying pressure to the person’s throat or neck or by blocking the person’s nose or mouth. A third-degree felony carries a range of punishment of two to ten years in prison.
Am I Eligible For Bail After Being Arrested And Charged With Domestic Violence?
Most times, yes. A Class C misdemeanor will not require a bond but a Class A or Felony will. You can pay a cash bond or hire a bail bondsman who will usually charge a 10% fee.
Can I Remain In Contact With My Children When Facing Domestic Violence Charges?
An applicant may seek an emergency protective order, a two-year protective order or a lifetime protective order which may affect your ability to be in contact with your children. Often times, the courts in Harris County will grant a protective order that lasts 20 days after you are charged and no hearing is necessary. A protective order may forbid the defendant from going near the residence, workplace, or school of the complaining witness, or his or her children. However, you can seek to negotiate or modify the protective order. You can also have a hearing to fight the application for a protective order and deny the accusations.
Is An Order Of Protection Automatically Placed When Domestic Violence Charges Are Filed?
A hearing is required when the applicant is seeking a two-year protective order or lifetime protective order. But the Court can issue an emergency protective order or 20-day protective order without holding a hearing and they often do. It is important to hire an experienced attorney to preserve your rights.
Does An Alleged Victim Need To Be Physically Injured For Domestic Violence Charges To Be Made?
Domestic violence, known in Texas as assault with family violence, can be any physical contact (grabbing, pushing, scratching, hitting, etc.), with or without bodily injury. It may also involve threats of violence or physical intimidation, use of a weapon or threat of a weapon.
What Are The Penalties Of Being Convicted In A Domestic Violence Case?
- The charges and potential penalties depend on the degree of harm or threat and other factors such as previous family violence: Domestic assault is a Class C misdemeanor if the victim suffered no physical pain or lasting harm. Class C offenses are punishable by a $500 fine
- Domestic assault is a Class A misdemeanor if the contact caused pain (such as a slap), left physical marks (such as cuts or bruises) or resulted in lasting injury (such as a broken jaw). Class A offenses are punishable by up to a year in jail and/or fines of up to $4,000.
- Domestic violence may be charged as a third-degree felony for strangulation (choking) or if the assailant has prior domestic violence convictions. These offenses are punishable by 2 to 10 years in a Texas penitentiary.
In addition to jail time and a criminal record, a conviction for domestic assault or violating a protective order has other lasting ramifications:
- You cannot own or possess firearms.
- You cannot obtain a Texas hunting or fishing license.
What Happens If The Alleged Victim Recants Allegations Of Domestic Violence In Texas?
If the spouse or family member does not want to press charges, an affidavit of non- prosecution may help convince the prosecutor to drop the case. However, the prosecutor has sole discretion, regardless of the victim’s wishes or cooperation.
What Should I Do Once Domestic Violence Charges Are Filed Against Me?
This is a serious charge with major possible ramifications. It is important to hire an experienced aggressive attorney right away to protect your rights. At Ayson Law Firm, we are skilled at handling this kind of case and do so frequently.
What Strategies Can Be Used To Defend Clients In Domestic Violence Cases? Is Self-Defense Ever A Defense?
Everyone has the right to defend themselves against an assault. This is true even if the other party is a relative or spouse who is committing domestic violence. It is important to understand that one is allowed to defend themselves by using only the amount of force that is reasonably necessary to stop the assault. If one uses more force than was necessary to defend themselves then they will have gone beyond what the law considers to be “self-defense” and they will be considered as having committed assault themselves.
Other possible defenses may include defending a family member or a lack of evidence.
Contact Our Experienced Houston Domestic Violence Lawyers Today
Cases of family violence are proceeded by the prosecutor even if the alleged victim wants to have the case dismissed. Depending on the nature of the conflict, the act of violence could be classified as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Getting professional legal assistance is crucial to make sure the charges are either reduced or dismissed. Call an experienced Houston domestic violence lawyer at Ayson Law Firm for a free consultation.