In Texas, assault is defined as intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing or threatening to cause bodily injury to another person. It becomes domestic assault when the assault is directed against a current or former spouse, a current or former dating partner, a person with whom they’ve had a child, a household member, or a blood relative or person related by marriage or adoption. It can be bumped up to aggravated domestic assault if the victim sustained a serious bodily injury (fractures, brain injuries, disfigurement, etc.) or a deadly weapon was used while carrying out the offense.
It is also not uncommon for burglary charges to arise related to domestic violence cases. Read on to find out why this happens and how you can protect your rights against such charges.
Protective Orders in Texas
It is not uncommon for one person to seek a Protective Order against the other person after a domestic dispute escalates to a domestic violence charge. A Protective Order is a court order that protects a victim of domestic violence from someone who has been violent or threatened to be violent. Among other things, the court may forbid the person under the Protective Order to contact the victim or go near them, their children, family relatives, pets, their home, where they work, or their children’s schools.
Violating a Protective Order
If you’ve had a protective order placed against you, it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your rights, especially if the domestic violence allegations are false. Violating a Protective Order in Texas is a Class A misdemeanor crime. If convicted, you could be facing up to $4,000 in fines and/or up to one year in county jail. Depending on the circumstances, you could also be facing additional criminal charges, including trespassing and burglary.
How Domestic Violence Protective Orders Lead to Burglary Charges
After a protective order is put into place, the accused person may be tempted to enter the victim’s habitation to gather some personal belongings or to try and patch things up. This could be a big mistake. You could be charged with trespassing or burglary for violating a Protective Order’s instructions not to go near the victim or their home. This applies even if you own the home or have signed the lease.
A person commits burglary in Texas when they enter a habitation or building without the consent of the owner with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault.
The penalties for burglary are severe.
- Breaking into a building is a state jail felony. A conviction could get you 180 days to 2 years in prison
- Breaking into a building with the intent to steal a controlled substance, using a deadly weapon in the commission of the crime or having a prior conviction could result in third-degree felony charges. A conviction could get you 2 -10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000
- Breaking into a habitation with the intent to commit theft is a second-degree felony in Texas. You could be looking at 2 – 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
You may not intend any harm by entering the victim’s home, but there’s a good chance the law won’t see it that way. You could find yourself facing First Degree felony charges if law enforcement believes you entered the victim’s habitation with the intent to commit a felony other than theft, such as domestic assault.
A conviction for first-degree felony burglary can have serious consequences. First, there’s the jail time – between 5 and 99 years in state prison; and then there are the fines, which can range up to $10,000.
Speak to an Experienced Houston Domestic Violence Defense Attorney About Burglary Charges
In addition to the fines and jail time, a conviction for burglary charges stemming from a domestic violence case will remain on your permanent record. Not only will it make it difficult to get a job, obtain a loan or credit, or attend the school of your choice, the conviction could work against in any divorce or child custody disputes.
Lisa Shapiro Strauss is a leading Houston domestic violence defense attorney dedicated to protecting the rights of her clients. She has defended clients throughout Houston and Harris County who have been charged with domestic violence and related offenses. A former county DA turned criminal defense attorney, Lisa knows the tactics the prosecution will use to try and get their conviction; her effective defense strategies often result in reduced or even dismissed charges for her patients.
Depending on the circumstances in your case, possible domestic violence and assault defenses can include:
- The allegations are false.
- You were acting in self-defense.
- There is a lack of evidence.
- The victim allowed you into their home.
- Investigative errors were made.
- The police violated your rights during the arrest.
If you’ve been charged with domestic violence in Houston or arrested for a burglary in connection to a domestic violence case, contact the law offices of Houston criminal defense lawyer Lisa Shapiro Strauss to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case and legal options.