Domestic violence, or family violence as it’s called in Texas law, is a serious crime that can result in misdemeanor or felony charges. A conviction on family violence charges can have a number of negative consequences. In addition to jail time and fines, the domestic violence conviction will remain on the defendant’s public record, which could affect their ability to qualify for certain types of jobs, housing, and credit.
The consequences can be even worse when the person charged with family violence is a non-U.S. citizen. In addition to deportation, a non-citizen convicted of domestic violence in Texas could find their immigration status changed to “inadmissible” which means:
- They will not be allowed to legally reenter the U.S. once they leave.
- They will no longer be eligible to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
- They cannot receive a green card to become a legal permanent resident.
What Is Domestic Violence in Texas?
In Texas, domestic violence is called family violence. Family violence is any act by a member of a family or household against another member that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm. Under Texas law, a ‘family’ includes individuals related by blood or affinity, marriage or former marriage, biological parents of the same child, foster children, foster parents, and members or former members of the same household. Child abuse, neglect, and abandonment are also considered to be acts of family violence, as is “dating violence,” an act of violence involving individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. This is very similar to the definition of a “crime of domestic violence” under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”).
Depending on the circumstances, a person accused of family violence in Texas could be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony charge. The court may also issue a restraining order.
Avoid Conviction to Avoid Deportation
If you’ve only been charged with domestic violence in Texas you won’t automatically face deportation or the loss of your legal immigration status. Only a conviction can do that. You still have a right to defend yourself in court.
If you have been charged with a domestic abuse crime, contact a domestic violence attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. You may not realize it, but there are often many defenses against family violence charges in Texas, including
- There was no intent to threaten or harm the victim.
- The victim is lying.
- The victim’s wounds were self-inflicted.
- You were acting in self-defense, the defense of others, or in defense of property.
- You acted out of fear.
The charges against you may also be dropped if it can be proved that law enforcement had no probable cause to arrest you or violated your civil rights during the arrest.
The goal is to avoid a conviction. Your attorney will try to get the charges against you dropped, or get you acquitted by a jury. If your attorney is unable to get the domestic violence charges against you dropped or feels your chances of acquittal aren’t too good, they may be able to arrange a plea deal where you plead guilty to reduced charges. This could potentially preserve your immigration status.
Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Provides Effective Legal Defenses Against Family Violence Charges
A conviction on family violence charges in Texas can have far-ranging consequences, especially if you’re not yet a U.S. citizen. You could be deported and not be allowed back into the country, which could have a devastating impact on you and your family. If you’ve been arrested for family violence in Texas, it’s important to take steps to protect your legal rights — contact the law offices of Houston domestic violence attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss without delay.
Lisa Shapiro Strauss is a former County DA turned Houston criminal defense attorney. This unique background gives Lisa an edge other attorneys simply don’t possess. She knows the tactics the state will use to get their conviction, which allows her to devise effective defense strategies against their charges. Her experienced representation often results in either reduced or dismissed charges for her clients.
Whether you are an immigrant or a U.S. citizen, you are still entitled to a fair trial. Contact the law offices of Lisa Shapiro Strauss through our website, or call us at (713) 429-7310 to schedule a free initial confidential consultation with a leading Houston domestic violence defense attorney.