Despite the toughest round of Texas Domestic Violence reform yet, the courts understand the nature of these cases is usually complex. Judges maintain wide discretion when evaluating domestic violence charges, and often consider the impact their decisions can have upon the entire family unit.
An experienced Fort Worth domestic violence defense attorney can review your case, provide a clear understanding of your options, and develop a sound defense against the charges you face. In today’s post, we’re going to share some of the most common approaches we take when helping our clients fight back.
I Didn’t Commit Domestic Violence
There are really only two scenarios in which telling the court “I didn’t do it” can be a valid defense: either the victim has made a mistake, or someone’s deliberately making false accusations.
It’s a Mistake
Generally, a victim of domestic violence is fully aware of who has committed the crime against them. However, there are some situations where a victim has made a mistake.
When the accuser is very young, for instance, there may be some confusion about who was present and/or who actually committed the act against them. Another scenario that sometimes presents itself is when there is an element which can conceal the identity of the offender (such as darkness).
My Ex Is Lying
Unfortunately, ill will can play a role in accusations, too. Sometimes – especially in divorce cases – former partners can make false allegations in hopes of controlling the outcome of a heated custody battle. Often your defense team must scour an accuser’s story against police reports and eyewitness testimony for inconsistencies to ward off a wrongful conviction.
When you can provide an alibi – hard evidence or credible testimony – proving you couldn’t have committed the crime, telling a judge you didn’t do it can keep you from doing time.
I Committed Domestic Violence, But Didn’t Mean To
Research shows that domestic violence is often a learned behavior. Perhaps you were abused. Or maybe you grew up in a household where one parent abused the other.
Moreover, it is frequently a response of passion. In other words, your spouse was standing too close, you couldn’t control your emotions – and then you accidentally exploded.
Although these should never be excuses for violence against a loved one, we should not ignore the role they play. Circumstances like these only demonstrate the complexity of domestic abuse.
If you’re being charged with domestic violence for the very first time, explaining yourself may allow room for correcting your learned behaviors. You may be able to participate in a rehabilitation program, and ultimately have your charges reduced.
My Domestic Violence Was an Act of Self-Defense
On the other hand, when you purposefully committed an act of violence against a family or other household member, but had good reason, you may be able to have the charges completely dismissed.
In order to use this defense, a defendant must prove three things:
- As the accused, you did not make the first move.
- You reasonably perceived an imminent threat against yourself or another family member (i.e. your children).
- You acted purely in response, and responded proportionally to the initial aggression.
There’s No Proof I Committed Domestic Violence
In the unfortunate event you have been inaccurately accused, the fact remains that there must be proof that a crime has been committed in order to be charged and convicted.
According to Texas law, the burden of proof lies with the accuser. Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an act of violence has, in fact, occurred against a family member.
Evidence may include photos, police and/or medical records, and witness testimony. When evidence is strictly circumstantial, the intent to abuse must also be established.
When there is no proof of injury, and no intent, there can be no felony domestic violence conviction.
Charges of domestic violence can result in the kind of felony conviction with the potential to affect every aspect of your life, including whether you lose your job, you home, and your kids. With so much on the line, it is imperative you seek experienced legal counsel who will effectively work to have your charges reduced or altogether dismissed.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.