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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
Terms of imprisonment, high fines, and the loss of certain civil rights can all result from a domestic violence conviction. Working with an Austin domestic violence lawyer may be key to working towards the best possible outcome based on the unique factors in your case.
Having a permanent criminal record for a crime of violence is not likely to be advantageous to you when you are looking for a job, attempting to further your education, or pursuing a different career path. In some cases, a conviction could shut you out of certain careers altogether and make it far more difficult to better yourself from a professional and financial perspective. If you find yourself in this type of situation, a savvy defense lawyer could help.
Domestic Violence in Austin
In the state of Texas, there is not a specific criminal offense that constitutes domestic violence, except for one statute that targets repeat offenders in certain situations. Specifically, if someone allegedly assaulted a family or household member at least twice in 12-month period, they commit the offense of continuous violence against the family pursuant to Tex. Pen. Code § 25.11. This offense is a third-degree felony, which can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years and a $10,000 fine.
For an isolated incident of domestic violence, however, allegedly committing certain crimes against specified family and household members are generally the same as committing them against strangers. Due to the nature of these offenses, which primarily involve threats of violence and bodily harm to others, the penalties can be severe. When facing any type of charge that involves violence or threats of violence, consulting a domestic violence lawyer in Austin may be advisable.
Defining Family and Household Members
All states define family and household members differently for the purposes of domestic violence offenses. Texas has adopted a relatively expansive definition of family. Under Tex. Pen. Code § 71.003, family constitutes all individuals related by blood, adoption, or marriage, including former spouses and those who share a child.
To qualify as a household member, people simply must reside together in the same dwelling. Pursuant to Tex. Pen. Code § 71.005, there does not need to be a marital or family relationship between the members of the same household. It is sufficient that they simply live in the same location.
Specific Acts Against the Family
Various actions can constitute domestic violence when they involve family or household members. These include assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, and terrorist threats, among others. Any of these offenses are serious crimes that have the potential to result in severe penalties, so getting advice from an Austin domestic violence attorney may be helpful.
Perhaps the most commonly-charged domestic violence offenses are assault and aggravated assault. Under Tex. Pen. Code § 22.01, an assault includes various behaviors that cause physical injuries to others. However, it also includes making threats of physical harm to others or physical contact that does not cause injuries, but that others would reasonably view as offensive or provocative.
Assault is typically a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $4,000. However, assault can become a felony under certain circumstances, such as when the target is a family or household member and the alleged offender has a previous conviction for domestic assault. The potential penalties for a felony offense far exceed those for a misdemeanor.
Get Advice from an Austin Domestic Violence Attorney Today
When you are facing any type of criminal charges, you need to begin building a strong defense from the outset of your case. Delays in doing so can have a negative impact on your case. In this situation, an Austin domestic violence lawyer may be of assistance to you.
Working with experienced legal counsel can have many benefits. You can learn about the criminal court process, thoroughly understand the options that may be available to you, and work toward a more positive resolution of the charges against you. To learn how an attorney can help, call now.