A domestic violence conviction in Houston can have severe consequences.
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If you are convicted of domestic violence, you may be:
- Sentenced to jail time
- Required to attend counseling
- Placed on probation
- Restricted in your ability to possess a firearm
A conviction will also go on your criminal record, which can make it difficult to get a job, housing, or financial assistance. If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is important to work with a criminal defense attorney who can fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
What Is Domestic Violence in Texas?
Texas law defines domestic violence as “an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself.”
This means that domestic violence can be either physical or non-physical acts.
It is important to note that even if you did not intend to hurt the victim, you can still be charged with domestic violence. For example, if you accidentally hit your spouse while swinging your arm during an argument, you could be charged with assault.
Who Can Be Charged with Domestic Violence?
In Texas, “family or household members” include:
- Current or former spouse
- Foster children
- Adoptive parents and children
- Blood relatives
- People who are related by marriage
- People who live together or have previously lived together
You can also be charged with domestic violence even if you are in a romantic dating relationship and have never lived together. It is important to seek legal advice if you are facing domestic violence charges, as the consequences can be severe and long-lasting.
Criminal Penalties for Domestic Violence in Texas
Most domestic violence defendants are charged with misdemeanor offenses. Depending on the severity of the violence, the penalties upon conviction can be harsh:
- Class C misdemeanor: Fine of up to $500
- Class B misdemeanor: Jail time of up to 180 days and fine of up to $2,000
- Class A misdemeanor: Jail time of up to one year and/or fine of up to $4,000
Subsequent charges of assault on family member may result in felony charges. A felony conviction can mean years of jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.
Negative Impact of a Domestic Violence Conviction in Houston
In addition to jail time and fines, there are many other ways in which a domestic violence conviction can have a negative impact on your life:
- No contact/restraining orders
- Prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm
- Prohibited from getting a hunting or fishing license in Texas
- Court ordered counseling – at your expense
- Limited employment opportunities
- Can be grounds for deportation
- Divorce, child custody and visitation rights
If you are convicted of simple assault, you may be ordered to pay the victim restitution, which means paying for expenses that occurred as a result of the crime you were convicted for. Restitution may be ordered for medical bills, damaged property, trauma counseling, and other expenses.
Under Texas law, even if you receive probation or deferred adjudication, you may still be responsible for:
- Court Costs
- Victim Impact Panels
- Counseling for Victim
- Contributions to Women’s Domestic Violence Shelters
- Weekly Batterers Intervention Prevention Program Counseling
- Alcohol Evaluation and Treatment
- Anger Management Counseling
- Monthly Probation Fees of $50 per Month
- No Contact With Victim
- Random Urinalysis Testing
- Monthly Reporting To Probation Officer
- Community Service
- Electronic Location Monitoring Bracelet
- And any other conditions the Judge finds to be reasonable
Frequently Asked Questions About Houston Domestic Violence Cases
A Condition of Bond is what someone has agreed to (or will not agree to) in order to leave the jail for the trial and stay outside of the case. For instance, most bonds require a court appearance. Some conditions of bond may include supervision by Harris County prosecutors, wearing electronic monitoring devices, no communication with the complainants, exclusion of the address, and a requirement to not have a drug or alcohol.
The answer depends on a variety of factors:
– What allegedly occured
– Whether there were physical injuries
– The defendant’s criminal history
– Whether there is a history of assault on family member in the household
These factors and others can come into play when a prosecutor considers whether to drop charges in a domestic violence case.
Under Texas law, most people charged with crimes have a Constitutional right to testify on their own behalf. However, there are some circumstances in which your attorney may advise you not to take the stand. This usually occurs when your testimony could potentially hurt your case or open up other areas for additional questioning that would damage your credibility or chances of winning.
Domestic violence cases are legally complex and emotionally charged. You need an experienced domestic violence lawyer who can navigate the criminal justice system and work to protect your rights. The right attorney will also be able to help you understand the charges against you and the possible consequences of a conviction.
A Houston Domestic Violence Lawyer On Your Side
We understand that everyone makes mistakes. We’re here to make sure these mistakes don’t lead to further problems for you and your family. If you’ve been accused of domestic violence in Houston, contact experienced domestic violence lawyer Lisa Shapiro Strauss.
In a situation like this, your choice in legal representation could keep you out of jail and save you thousands in fines and legal fees. Lisa Shapiro Strauss is a former prosecutor turned defense lawyer – she’s familiar with the ways prosecutors think and act, an insight that allows her to formulate a winning defense strategy that will get you the best outcome possible.