Texas law approaches domestic violence with a very serious tone. Can you get jail time for domestic violence? The short answer is yes — if there is any evidence, credible or not, of bodily injury then the alleged offender will be arrested and booked. Understanding the steps that lead to domestic violence charges in Houston will help explain why an arrest and bodily injury will result in temporary jail time.
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What Is a Domestic Violence Offense?
There is no Texas penal code statute that is labeled as “Assault – Domestic Violence.” The actual offense is typically labeled “Assault”, and can range from a Class C misdemeanor to a felony. The majority of domestic violence cases are charged as a Class A misdemeanor where the defendant alleges bodily injury. This is a very important element of the charge. The “bodily injury” allegation and evidence is the match that must light before sending someone to jail.
Defining Bodily Injury
Texas law defines bodily injury as an injury that means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. If that sounds broad and somewhat general, you would be correct. It does not take much to make an allegation of bodily injury: it only takes the alleged victim feeling pain and confirming that pain to a police officer. When police are called to the scene they will ask if the alleged victim is hurt. Confirmation to this question is all the probable cause a police officer needs to take the alleged offender to jail.
From Phone Call to Jail Cell
Seeing the steps from phone call to jail cell can help explain how temporary jail time for domestic violence charges can happen. Many cases follow this template:
- A phone call is made to 911 for a domestic disturbance
- Police arrive on the scene and identify the alleged victim
- Officers ask the alleged victim if they are in pain or hurt
- Validation of bodily injury leads to arrest and jail time for alleged offender
How Long Can I be Held?
Making bail is not necessarily an “Out of Jail” card for domestic violence charges. If the judge believes that repeat violence would occur, the alleged offender can be held four additional hours. That can be stretched past 24 hours if the judge finds the alleged offender has been arrested for assault on family member on more than one occasion.
Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Violence Charges
Do I need an attorney for my domestic violence charge?
You might be able to get away with representing yourself in some lower-level cases, but domestic violence charges are serious enough that you should really have an experienced attorney by your side.
What is the difference between a restraining order and a protective order?
A restraining order is issued by a civil court and requires the abuser to stay away from the victim. A protective order is issued by a criminal court and orders the abuser to stop all acts of family violence.
What are the penalties of domestic violence in Texas?
Penalties for domestic violence in Texas can range from a Class C misdemeanor to a felony. Misdemeanor penalties can include up to one year of jail time and a fine of up to $4,000, while felony penalties can be much more severe, including up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Can women be charged with assault family violence in Texas?
While in the past domestic violence was thought of as something committed by men, today law enforcement is recognizing that women can also commit domestic violence.
Get Help Fighting Domestic Violence Charges
If you have been accused of inflicting bodily injury to a family member and spent time in jail as the alleged offender, criminal defense attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss can help. Our experienced family violence attorneys protect your rights while evaluating the circumstances that lead to your arrest and jailing. A phone call will place you in contact with our attorney team, standing by and available to schedule a meeting.