Charged with Domestic Violence in Fort Worth, TX / Tarrant County?
Are you or someone you know facing an Assault-Family Violence charge that resulted from a dispute or altercation in Fort Worth, Arlington, or a surrounding city? If so, you need an experienced Fort Worth Criminal Lawyer to fight on your behalf.
The applicable section of Texas Penal Code §22.01 states that a person commits the misdemeanor offense of assault if the person: (1) Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse.
Under Texas law, you can be charged with assault family violence if the altercation is between siblings, your spouse, a parent, a dating partner, or any member of the household. An Assault-Family Violence conviction in Fort Worth has serious consequences. If there is a family violence finding you are not allowed to carry a firearm. In addition, you are not entitled to a non-disclosure (sealing of your record) with a family violence conviction.
The punishment range for an Assault-Family Violence charge is up to one year in the county jail and up to a $4,000 fine. If you have been previously convicted of Assault-Family Violence your punishment range is increased to a third-degree felony and you are facing 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Fort Worth Domestic Violence Lawyer
Why can my case not be automatically dismissed if the alleged victim does not want to prosecute?
I have had many clients in Fort Worth, Arlington and surrounding cities ask me why their case will not be dismissed if their spouse does not want to prosecute. The short answer is that once a case is filed by the police with the District Attorney’s Office, the decision is out of the alleged victim’s control. Typically, a 911 call is made and the police arrive at the scene and assess the situation. If the responding police believe the elements of an assault occurred, one party will be arrested and taken to jail. The police officer will then file a case with the District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office will decide whether to accept that case and if they do accept the case it is generally out of the alleged victim’s hands. Whether the case will be dismissed is now up to the prosecutor assigned the case. Prosecutors have implemented a “No Drop” policy which is intended to protect victims of domestic violence. The prosecutor will try to contact the alleged victim and will discuss the case with the alleged victim, but ultimately it is the prosecutor’s decision to dismiss the case when the proceedings have reached this point
Assault crimes are categorized as violent crimes that many times carry with them devastating consequences. If you are convicted of an assault charge, it may be extremely hard to find a job because of a violent criminal conviction on your record for the rest of your life.
You Don’t Have to Be Family to Face A Domestic Assault Case
Heated arguments can sometimes occur with people you live with, whether they’re family or not. Money issues, stress, and simply being around someone so often can lead to an increase in irritation that boils over into an argument where the police are called.
Going too far in these arguments comes with real-world consequences, though, especially if you are convicted of domestic assault. Add in the fact that Texas has recently made some changes to the procedures regarding the nature of the relationship between the defendant and the victim, and you could find yourself in some serious legal trouble.
Here’s what you need to know about domestic assault in Texas and how these new laws could impact your case.
Texas Domestic Assault
Family violence in Texas is governed by the Texas assault statutes. For cases involving violence between family members, those that live in the same household, and those in a romantic relationship, there can be additional restrictions or penalties when the case goes to court.
In Texas, simple assault is characterized as intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly causing harm to another, threatening another with bodily harm, or making physical contact with another person that they would find offensive or provocative.
Aggravated assault can be charged if simple assault is committed and there is serious bodily injury or a deadly weapon was used or shown to the victim during the commission of the crime.
Assault with Family or Household Members in Texas
The relationship between the people involved in the case can also increase the charges. For example, it can raise what would have been a misdemeanor charge to a felony, or raise felony charges to a more severe felony.
In Texas, family violence is defined as violence between those related by affinity (such as marriage) or blood, including:
- Parents of a child
- Former spouse’s children
- Foster children
- Adopted children
- Foster parents
- Uncles and Aunts
Texas family code also includes people who live in the same dwelling, whether they are related or not, as well as any person who lived in the household previously.
Changes with Senate Bill 2136
This recently passed bill from the Texas State Senate changes the type of evidence that can be introduced into a case when the defendant and victim are related, or considered related under the domestic assault laws, such as people who have shared a dwelling but are not related.
In effect, the court is now allowed to consider the nature of the relationship between the defendant and the victims as evidence to help paint a bigger picture of the cause behind the alleged crime.
Previously, this law only applied in cases of domestic violence. Now, each party in criminal cases can submit this type of evidence.
Texas Penalties for Assault
Additionally, the new law can increase the penalty for committing assault. For example, in Texas, simple assault is considered a Class A misdemeanor, but committing assault against a family member or someone in the household is a felony in the third degree.
A Class A misdemeanor can be punished by as much as one year in jail and fines of $1,000. A conviction for third-degree felony assault is punishable by as much as 10 years in prison and fines of $10,000.
Why Domestic Violence is Such a Pervasive Problem in Texas
Domestic violence is an incredibly pervasive problem in the State of Texas, but if we ever want to truly stamp it out, it’s going to take more than putting offenders behind bars. We have to get to the root of the problem and work to alter behaviors that in some cases may have gone on for generations or be due to uncontrollable personal factors.
If you have been charged with domestic violence, an experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorney may be able to get your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed by arguing that you don’t need punishment, but help. Let’s examine the most common reasons why people tend to engage in acts of domestic violence, and what help is available to you.
Experience of Abuse as a Child
Domestic abuse is a learned behavior. Some people have learned it from popular culture or friends, but most pick it up from their families of origin. If you were abused as a child, or if you witnessed abuse when you were a child, you are at a higher risk of abusing others in your adulthood.
It’s not just imitation, either. If your parent gained control over others through abuse, you will be prone to seeking control over others through abuse. If no one ever stopped the abuser or reported them to authorities, you may not even realize that abusive actions are punishable by law.
Bottom line? Many people with abusive backgrounds simply repeat the past in their adult relationships. They use abuse to deal with their own lack of self-image and anger problems. They often struggle to trust others and may not form healthy emotional connections due to past abuse. People who were abused as children may need psychological treatment more than punitive measures to learn a healthier way of relating to others.
Destructive Thought Processes
Two kinds of emotional dynamics typically exist in an abuser’s mind. One is that they listen to an internal critical voice when triggered. Another is that they believe another person is responsible for their happiness… and unhappiness. Let’s look at both destructive thought processes in detail.
If you have an internal critical voice, you may respond defensively in stressful moments. Thoughts like “I’m not legitimate unless I gain the upper hand in this situation” or “She’s making me look weak” are common defenses that pit you against your partner. When you see your partner as an enemy who is threatening your sense of self-worth, you may be tempted to retaliate with abuse.
If you secretly think that another person makes you whole or happy, you may have what some psychologists call a fantasy bond. If your partner does something that displeases you or arouses anger or fear in you, domestic violence may result.
The more you listen to either of these destructive thought processes, the more likely you will be to act out when provoked. Counseling can train you to stay calm when provoked, choose non-violent ways to handle anger, and gain a healthy sense of self-esteem that doesn’t depend on another person.
Usually someone with control issues will have anger issues. Abusers typically want total control over victims. If the victim is unable to perform up to the abuser’s expectations of control, the abuser may lash out in anger. The abuser may also believe that the behavior is justified by the victim’s actions, because the abuser feels provoked or threatened. Abusers with control issues need psychological help to overcome distorted thinking patterns.
How a Domestic Violence Attorney Can Help
An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney who has handled domestic violence cases in the past will be aware of the many different reasons that lead people to act out and will what to say to increase your chances of being admitted into a treatment program rather than put behind bars. Reach out today for a free consultation and learn about the options for your case.
If you have been arrested and charged with assault-domestic violence in Fort Worth, Arlington, or surrounding cities, you need an aggressive and knowledgeable Fort Worth criminal lawyer on your side. Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor assault-domestic violence or felony assault-family violence a conviction could carry with it the possibility of jail time. At Fulgham Law Firm P.C. our goal is to prevent jail time and to help you clear your record.
At the Fulgham Law Firm P.C., you will find a Fort Worth criminal law practice focused on passionately defending the accused. Contact our Fort Worth office now at 817-877-3030 for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Fort Worth criminal attorney.
Call us right now to get help
We’ve helped hundreds of people in Texas and we can help you too. We’ll set you up with a free conversation with Mr. Fulgham which will help you know what to do next. The Fulgham Law Firm serves Fort Worth and Tarrant county areas.
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