Family violence crimes are some of the most common in the state of Texas. These cover a wide variety of crimes and happen for a variety of reasons.
Once a report of a family violence crime has been placed, there is very little that can be done. The state of Texas requires a suspect to be arrested during these incidents even if no charges are filed.
In this post, we’ll discuss the variety of crimes that can fall under the label of family violence and what the penalties for these crimes are. Then, we’ll examine what happens when someone is arrested for one of these crimes and what can be done to ensure your rights are being upheld during this process.
What Are Some Common Crimes That Fall Under Family Violence?
There are a variety of crimes that fall under the label of family violence. These most commonly are classified as physical assault, bodily injury, sexual assault, and similar crimes. The Texas Penal Code describes family violence as:
“(1) An act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or 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 measures to protect oneself:”
(2) Abuse… by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household; or”
(3) “Dating violence…” which is “an act by an individual against another individual with whom that person has or has had a dating relationship and is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or 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 measures to protect oneself.”
There is very strict criteria for who is considered as a family member in the state of Texas. Family members are:
- People related by blood
- People related by marriage
- Former spouses
- People who are parents of the same child
- Foster children and foster parents
- People living together in the same house even if not related
- People in an ongoing romantic relationship (dating violence)
What Are the Penalties for Family Violence in the State of Texas?
Family violence is treated as a serious violent crime in the state of Texas. These charges can carry lengthy prison sentences and steep fines. The penalty for family violence in Texas is up to one year in the county jail and a fine not to exceed $4,000.
If you have a previous conviction for family violence, the crime becomes a third-degree felony. The penalty for a crime of this level is a minimum of two years in prison and a maximum of ten years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
What Happens During a Texas Family Violence Offense?
There is a very specific set off procedures that are initiated when a family violence offense is reported to the police. The first thing that will usually happen is the filing of a complaint by the victim.
Once a complaint has been filed, a warrant can be issued for your arrest. If the police are responding to a call and actually witness violence or have proof that violence has been committed, such as bodily injury, no warrant is needed. At this point, you will be taken to jail.
Once in jail, you will then be brought in front of a judge. The judge can require a “cooling period”. This is a required amount of time that you must spend in jail before you are allowed to post bail and leave.
At this point, the victim may also request an emergency protection order. This order will require that you stay away from the victim and place certain stipulations on what you can and cannot do while out on bail. Violation of this protective order will come with separate charges.
The date of a trial will be set and you will be required to show for the trial. It is best to have an attorney that is experienced in defending those accused of family violence. A guilty verdict can land you in prison for multiple years with expensive fines.
You will also have the damage to your reputation and potential loss of employment. The long-lasting consequences of being found guilty of family violence can be severe. This can also include divorce, loss of custody of your children, and numerous other issues in your personal and professional life.
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. He has been recognized for his work by Expertise (Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Forth Worth and Best DUI Lawyers in Fort Worth, both 2020), The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others