4 Things to Do After Being Arrested for Family Violence in Texas

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Have you been arrested for family violence?  According to the Crime in Texas 2019 report regarding arrests for family violence in Texas (pages 55-57), there were 196,902 family violence incidents in Texas that year. In 72.2% of the incidents, the weapon used is hands, feet, and fists and in 42.6% of cases, there were no injuries. 

In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there is an unofficial protocol that if law enforcement responds to a home for alleged assault, they must remove and/or arrest someone. The charges for assault family violence range from a Class C misdemeanor to a felony.

Once an arrest for family violence is made, it is no longer in the hands of the victim on whether or not the prosecution pursues criminal charges. The prosecutor makes that decision, even if the victim wants the charges dropped.

Even without a victim’s testimony, it is possible to receive a conviction. That is why you need to follow these important steps when you have been arrested for family violence of any type.

1. HIRE A FAMILY VIOLENCE ATTORNEY

arrested for family violence

By hiring a family violence attorney immediately after your arrest, you increase your chance of receiving a dismissal or reduction in charges. Your attorney will appear with you in court and advocate on your behalf. Depending on the facts, they may petition the court for a bond reduction or changes to the protective order.

Your family violence attorney will likely be familiar with the judge on your case. Many judges have specific things they order defendants to do following specific crimes.

If the judge normally has those accused of violent crimes take specific steps, your attorney may have you begin these steps early. Your proactive approach to the problem will reflect favorably with the judge and may result in lighter sentencing.

When looking for an experienced and knowledgeable family violence attorney, check their results page. Successful reviews indicate they have the legal skills necessary to handle your case.

2. COMPLY WITH THE PROTECTIVE ORDER

Following a family violence arrest, you likely will receive a protective order in accordance with the Texas Family Code, §85.001. It is imperative you follow the order. Some conditions may cause you financial and emotional hardships while your case is pending.

The order will prohibit you from having contact with the alleged victim. This includes going to their home, speaking with them on the phone, and contact via text or social media. This can be difficult if you reside in the same home.

You may be forced to stay elsewhere and not return while the case is pending. If you have children with the accuser, you may not be able to see them.

This is why having an attorney is important. They may petition the court requesting changes to the protective order that allows you alternative parenting time arrangements. They may also order arrangements to be made for the retrieval of your personal items from the home. 

Many times after family violence charges are filed the accuser contacts their alleged attacker and apologizes. They are willing to let you back into the home. The offer is difficult to turn down, especially if you have minor children. 

Do not answer the phone or engage in contact of any type! Violating a protective order is a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction may result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

If you have two or more prior convictions, the charge increases to a third-degree felony, which carries a 2-10 year prison sentence and a fine of up to $10,000. 

3. LEARN FAMILY VIOLENCE LAW

Family violence is defined in the Texas Family Code, Chapter 71.004. It is an action taken by any member of a family or household with the intent of causing bodily injury, physical harm, assault, or sexual assault to another family or household member. It may also be a threat of harm without any actual physical action.

The law excludes actions a person takes to protect themselves from harm. It also excludes reasonable discipline of children.

To be abusive, assault against a child must be substantial harm or a genuine threat. This includes sexual contact of any type, intercourse, or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct.

When defining what constitutes assault family violence, there are numerous people that qualify, including:

  • People related by blood or affinity
  • Marriage or former marriage
  • Biological parents of the same child
  • Foster children and foster parents
  • Members or former members of the same household, including roommates
  • People who are or previously were in a relationship of a romantic or intimate nature

According to the Crime in Texas 2019 report, most family violence occurs between people in non-marital relationships. The second most common is between husbands and wives, and the third is between parents and children.

ALTERNATIVE SENTENCING

Texas law allows for alternatives to jail or prison for domestic assault first-time offender convictions. You may receive deferred adjudication. This allows you to receive a dismissal of charges if you complete specific requirements.

Some defendants receive the opportunity to receive probation rather than jail time. You may also be ordered on probation following a period of incarceration.

BOND CONDITIONS

In addition to a no-contact order, other conditions of your bond may include GPS monitoring and being prohibited from firearm possession. If you fail to comply with a protection order, the judge may revoke your bond. Upon revocation of bond, you will be subject to incarceration until your case is resolved through a plea or trial.

FIREARM RESTRICTIONS

If you receive a conviction for assault family violence, you will lose your right to possess firearms. This is a lifetime ban. The only way to reinstate this right is if the court sets aside or expunges your conviction, or your receive a pardon.

4. GATHER EVIDENCE

You may be wondering, what evidence? I didn’t do anything wrong. Although you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, you need to be proactive and prove your innocence.

You may receive voice messages, emails, or text messages from your accuser. They may apologize, ask you to come home, say they called the police in anger and didn’t think you would be charged, or more.

Keep those messages and give them to your attorney. Their attempt to communicate or see you may raise speculation about the validity of their accusations. If you suffered any injuries as a result of the encounter with the alleged victim, take photos of those injuries and provide them to your attorney.

One helpful step is to sit down and write out in detail what happened immediately proceeding and during the alleged family violence incident. It is easy to forget details as the case proceeds through the court system.

Your attorney will refer to this written incident report to learn more about the incident. It may prove useful in showing areas they need additional evidence or when questioning witnesses in court.

SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION

When you are facing criminal charges for a family violence incident, your first step needs to be hiring an attorney. You can then work on gathering evidence and learning about how Texas Family Code impacts your freedom.

Following your arrest, contact the offices of Gallian Firm Inc. to schedule an appointment using our online form or call (214) 432-8860. The consultation is free.

We will provide you with our legal opinion on your case. Or evaluation will include information on what we can do to help you achieve the best outcome possible.