Family Violence Lawyer in Houston, TX
Texas does not tolerate acts of family violence. If someone calls the police about a domestic disturbance or files a complaint involving family violence, law enforcement will likely arrest the suspect and begin their investigation, even if the witness is lying or refuses to cooperate.
In Harris County, the prosecutors are especially strict and have an entire unit devoted to crimes involving family violence. This is a serious crime and requires a dedicated defense. The Westbrook Law Firm can help.
Texas Law Governing Family Violence
Texas law refers to family violence as both “domestic violence” and “family violence.” Family violence includes any of the following, as defined by Texas law:
- An act by one family member or household member against another family member or household member 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 measure to protect oneself;
- Abuse by a family member or household member toward a child of the family or household; or
- Dating Violence – meaning an act by an individual that is against another individual with whom that person has or had a “dating relationship” and that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places that individual in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself.
As you can see, Texas law does not distinguish between married spouses, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, or even unmarried persons in a dating relationship. Instead, the law links all of these persons together in one general category.
Types of Family Violence Crimes In Texas
Here are some of the most common crimes involving family violence:
- Assault of a Family Member
- Physical Assault
- Verbal Assault
- Unlawful Restraint
- Terroristic Threat
Emotions Typically Lead To Violence And Arrest
In many instances of family violence, emotions get carried away or someone makes an accusation out of impulse, not fully realizing the implications of their actions. An angry family member may exaggerate what happened, or even make things up, believing they can just drop the charges once things have calmed down.
Prosecutors have become more and more strict regarding these allegations. Even if the supposed victim refuses to cooperate and wants the charges dropped, the State will usually continue prosecuting the case to the fullest extent of the law.
Does this make any sense? No. Is it common for prosecutors to ignore requests from complaining witnesses to dismiss the charges? Yes.
Penalties for A Family Violence Conviction
A conviction involving family violence can lead to significant penalties, including up to one (1) year in jail, fines up to $4000.00, anger management classes, probation, and a finding of family violence that will never go away. Such a finding can be used against you in family court and may affect the custody of your children.
If you have a prior family violence conviction, and receive a second conviction, you could receive up to ten (10) years in prison, as well as a fine up to $10,000.00. The penalties also increase if the violence is aggravated in any way with a weapon or if you cause an injury to a child. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be prohibited from contacting the complainant for an extended period of time.
Unlike most criminal offenses in Texas, you can never seal your criminal record if you are convicted of a crime involving family violence (even if the charges are reduced through a plea bargain).
If you have been charged with a crime involving family violence, please call our Firm at 281-88-5581.