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What often starts as a minor miscommunication or argument can quickly develop into a dispute resulting in criminal charges. If you have been charged with an offense stemming from a domestic violence incident, an El Paso domestic violence lawyer may be able to assist you.
A domestic violence conviction can have serious implications that go beyond the criminal justice system. These consequences can include the loss of your right to possess firearms, changes to your current custody or visitation orders, and the implementation of a protective order against you. A dedicated defense lawyer could work toward minimizing the potential impact of those charges on your life.
Domestic Violence Charges in El Paso
Pursuant to Tex. Pen. Code § 22.01, assault occurs when someone intentionally or recklessly causes bodily injury to another. However, this offense also occurs when a person has reasonably offensive or provocative physical contact with another or threatens another with imminent bodily harm.
Assault becomes a domestic or family violence offense when it involves certain family or household members defined by law. Eligible family members under Tex. Pen. Code § 71.003 include all those who are related, whether by blood, adoption, or marriage. Family members also include individuals who share a child whether they are married, separated, divorced, and regardless of whether they ever resided together. Finally, household members include anyone who lives together in the same home, no matter the nature of their relationship, as well as anyone who has ever lived together under Tex. Pen. Code § 71.006.
What Are the Potential Penalties?
Assault offenses, including those against the family, can be charged as different levels of misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the situation. If the assault causes bodily injury to others, it is a Class A misdemeanor offense, but if it only involves the threat of harm or offensive contact, it is a Class C misdemeanor offense. However certain aggravating factors can increase the charge to a Class A or B misdemeanor. Potential penalties for these misdemeanor offenses are as follows:
- Class A misdemeanor can result in up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine
- Class B misdemeanor can result in up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine
- Class C misdemeanor can result in a fine of up to $500
Felony Domestic Violence Charges
However, there are various aggravating circumstances that can elevate a charge to a felony offense, such as using or exhibiting a deadly weapon during an assault. One such aggravating circumstance specifically involves domestic assault. If someone is accused of committing an assault against a family or household member and they have a previous domestic violence assault conviction, the charge increases to a third-degree felony.
Similarly, Tex. Pen. Code § 25.11 establishes a separate offense of continuous violence against the family, which occurs when a person allegedly commits two or more assaults against family or household members within one year. This offense also is a third-degree felony, which can result in a two to a ten-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. As the penalties for a felony domestic assault conviction can be quite serious, those facing these charges should strongly consider consulting an El Paso domestic violence lawyer for advice.
Contact a Domestic Violence Attorney in El Paso for Advice
A domestic assault conviction can have devastating effects on your life, both in terms of criminal penalties and collateral consequences. These damaging repercussions can cause the loss of your civil rights, increased difficulties finding a job, and an inability to pursue certain careers. In this situation, an El Paso domestic violence lawyer may be able to provide you with the help you need.
Working with experienced legal counsel may enable you to build a strong defense against any domestic violence charges that you are facing. To get started building your case, call today.