Assault charges are always serious. However, an accusation of an assault that takes place in the context of family violence or dating violence can carry even greater penalties. In addition to jail time, you could face a severe disruption in your life from protective order. A domestic assault conviction can never be expunged, meaning you will have a permanent criminal record haunting you for the rest of your life.
Austin Domestic Assault Lawyer
You don’t have to face these severe consequences alone. You can have an experienced Austin domestic assault lawyer on your side, fighting for you. Kevin Bennett is a skilled attorney who represents those facing charges of assault against a family member, household member or in a dating violence setting.
He always strives to help keep his clients informed so they know what is happening during this traumatic time. Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today at (512) 476-4626 to set up a free consultation.
Issues in Travis County Domestic Assault Cases
- Assault in Family Violence or Dating Violence
- Austin Procedures After a Domestic Assault Arrest
- Penalties in Travis County Domestic Violence Cases
- Common Defenses to Domestic Assault in Texas
- Dropping Domestic Assault Charges in Texas
Assault in Family Violence or Dating Violence
Assault, under Texas Penal Code §22.01, is intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, threatening someone with imminent bodily harm or causing physical contact when the accused should have reason to believe the contact will be offensive.
However, if the person being assault is a member of the accused’s family or household, then different charges may apply. A person is a member of the accused’s family or household if he or she is the accused’s:
- Wife or husband
- Ex-wife or ex-husband
- Brother or sister
- Father or mother
- Foster child
- Foster parent
If the victim is a member of the accused’s family or household, then an assault charge meets the definition of family violence under Chapter 71 of the Texas Family Code. Additionally, the Texas Family Code defines dating violence as an act of violence between people in a dating relationship.
Austin Procedures After a Domestic Assault Arrest
When Austin police are called on a domestic disturbance, it is highly likely that they will arrest someone, even if there is no violence occurring when officers arrive. While you are in jail, the victim or law enforcement may file for an emergency protection order with the magistrate Judge. You cannot be represented, nor can you appear, in an EPO hearing. The order can last for up to 90 days.
An alleged victim can also apply for a final protective order, which can last up to 2 years in length. After an application for a final order of protection is filed, the judge will issue a temporary protective order and set a final hearing date within the next 14 days. If granted, the protective order could severely impact your life. The order can kick you out of your home, make child custody arrangements, split community property and more. You may be represented by an Austin domestic violence lawyer at this hearing.
Another issue unique to assault cases involving family violence and dating violence is the “no drop” policy of the Travis County District Attorney. If the victim made a false claim in the heat of the moment about any other kind of assault, he or she will oftentimes not want to press charges or for the charges to be dropped. However, in domestic violence cases, prosecutors will pursue charges, regardless.
Your Austin domestic violence attorney may be able to assist you in seeking for the charges to be dropped.
Penalties in Travis County Domestic Violence Cases
A first-time assault in a domestic violence setting is a Class A misdemeanor, the same as a regular assault. It can result in up to a year in jail and a fine up to $4,000. However, a second charge of assault involving family violence or dating violence is a third-degree felony, resulting in two to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
If there was serious bodily injury or a dangerous weapon was used, the charges may be elevated to aggravated assault, a second-degree felony. You will face two to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Domestic violence charges also result in you losing a right to carry a firearm. They can also never be expunged, meaning you are stuck with the record forever.
Common Defenses to Domestic Assault in Texas
There are many defenses to assault that are recognized under Texas law. If you have been accused of domestic assault or family violence in Austin, a good defense attorney will be knowledgeable of Texas assault laws and will be able to examine the facts in your case to see if any defenses may apply to your particular situation. Some of the most common defenses to domestic assault in Texas are:
- Self Defense – This defense may apply when the defendant used force against another person because they reasonably believed that person was about to cause them bodily injury or death. Self Defense is probably the most common defense asserted by defendants who have been accused or charged with domestic assault in Texas.
- Defense of Others – This defense is very similar to self-defense and may apply when the defendant used force against another person because they reasonably believed that person was causing or about to cause a third party harm, bodily injury or death. However, you cannot use more force to defend a third person than you would be allowed to use to protect yourself.
- False Allegations –This defense may apply when the defendant was falsely accused by the alleged victim of committing domestic assault or another act of family violence. False allegations of domestic violence or spousal abuse often arise during divorce or child custody disputes.
- Defense of Property – This defense may apply if someone uses force to protect their property. However, the extent of the force used must be reasonable and in proportion to the defense needed to protect their property.
If you are charged with assault in Texas, the first thing you should do is hire a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can review the unique circumstances in your case and work with you to develop a defense strategy that may be able to get your case dismissed or reduced.
Dropping Domestic Assault Charges in Texas
After someone has been arrested in Austin for domestic assault, it is very common for the alleged victim to want the charges dropped. However, the decision to drop any type of criminal charge belongs to the State of Texas or prosecuting office, not to an alleged victim.
In Travis County and throughout Texas, prosecutors understand that in many cases, real victims of domestic violence will often recant their allegations of domestic abuse or family violence because they fear their abuser, have forgiven them or because they may rely on the defendant for financial support.
If you have been arrested or charged with domestic violence, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the complaining witness can “drop” the charges and the case will go away.
Austin Attorney Kevin Bennett regularly defends individuals accused of misdemeanor and felony domestic assault and other types of family violence cases in Austin,TX. Mr. Bennett works with his clients to take very specific steps to build a strong defense to increase the likelihood of getting the assault charge dismissed or reduced.
To schedule a free consultation in your domestic violence case, contact The Law Office of Kevin Bennett at (512) 476-4626.
Fighting Domestic Assault Charges in Travis County
Domestic assault charges can wreak havoc on your life, and result in you facing jail time, a loss of liberty and a permanent criminal record. Austin domestic assault lawyer Kevin Bennett can help you fight the charges. If you live anywhere in Austin or Travis County, Texas, have a skilled attorney fighting for you. Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett at (512) 476-4626 to set up a consultation.