If you’ve been charged with assault family violence in Houston, the best thing you can do is speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. There are many common misconceptions about domestic violence cases, and the fundamental misunderstanding of how these cases work can quickly ruin the lives of innocent people who have gotten caught up in highly emotional situations.
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“Can Assault Family Violence charges be dropped?”
This is the most frequently asked question that Houston assault family violence lawyer Lisa Shapiro Strauss hears in these types of cases. Unfortunately, the answer is usually NO.
“In probably 90% of the phone calls that come in, the alleged victim (otherwise known as the “complaining witness”) is telling me that they want to drop the charges in the case,” Lisa says. “Almost everyone believes their situation is unique and will result in an assault family member case being dismissed on the first court date. This could not be further from the truth.”
The State Didn’t “Pick Up” The Charges
Another common misconception in assault family violence cases is that the State “picked up” the charges. Lisa Strauss explains to her clients that the State always had the charges. If the police are involved, it is not a civil litigation matter between two people. It is a criminal case that reads “the State of Texas versus John Doe,” not “Susan Doe versus John Doe.”
This means that the State of Texas is charging John Doe with breaking the law against the State. Susan Doe is just a witness as far as the justice system is concerned. The District Attorney’s Office does want to hear from the alleged victim, though, and will call that person very soon after the arrest to speak with them.
Ignoring the District Attorney’s Calls Will Not Make It Go Away
Sometimes when a complaining witness doesn’t want to pursue the charges, they think a good strategy is to avoid phone calls from the District Attorney’s Office. This is the worst strategy possible. With no communication or explanation from the complaining witness, the DA has no choice but to assume the worst possible scenario in order to protect the safety of the victim. The District Attorney needs to hear directly from the complaining witness/victim and know that the person does not want to press charges.
However, even if the complaining witness wants to drop the charges, the decision is still up to the District Attorney on whether to do so. This is why the process to defend assault family violence cases requires an attorney who has extensive experience in these types of cases.
Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Violence Cases
Domestic violence is not specifically addressed in Texas statutes. Generally, these charges fall under Title 5, Chapter 22 of the Texas Penal Code. Assault is defined under Section 22.01 as engaging in any of the following:
– intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse;
– Intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse;
The Texas Family Code, Title 4, Subtitle A, Chapter 71, Sec. 71.004 defines “family violence” as an act committed by a member of a household against another member of the household that reasonably places the other member in fear of:
– Physical harm
– Bodily injury
The answer to this depends on how severe the alleged violence was. If convicted, penalties can include:
– Class C misdemeanor: Fine of up to $500
– Class A misdemeanor: Jail time of up to one year and/or fine of up to $4,000
– Felony: 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
A person can face felony continuous family violence charges if they have been charged with assaulting a member of their family two or more times. The following points should be considered, however:
• The charges do not have to involve assaulting the same person.
• Depending on the case, the previous case may not have a time expiration.
• There is no requirement that the previous charge resulted in a conviction.
Get Help from a Domestic Violence Lawyer in Houston
Lisa Shapiro Strauss, Attorney at Law, is a seasoned assault family violence lawyer in Houston who knows how to help you get the best possible outcome in your case. Call (713) 449-9922 today to schedule a free consultation.