If you are reading this book, it’s likely because either you are at risk of being accused of domestic violence, have already been accused, or are worried about someone who has been accused.
This is serious. So let’s cut right to the chase.
If you, or someone you care about, is facing an accusation of domestic violence, this is unquestionably a serious accusation.
Ignoring this accusation—or doing the wrong thing—can result in an outright loss of your freedom. It can also lead to collateral consequences, which you may not have considered yet.
Domestic violence is an attention-grabbing issue. You hear it discussed on television and radio talk shows. Television news broadcasts regularly interview “experts” who claim we are currently experiencing an epidemic of domestic abuse.
Advocacy groups spend enormous sums of money in an effort to influence domestic violence laws and to persuade the police to make more domestic violence arrests.
Some cities and counties have established domestic violence task forces. The offices of some county prosecutors have created “domestic violence units” that specialize in crimes committed against family members.
Many law enforcement agencies assign a group of detectives to work exclusively or primarily on domestic violence cases.
The publicity given to family violence makes it difficult for people who are charged with a domestic violence crime to receive fair treatment in the criminal justice system.
As criminal defense lawyers, with years of experience representing individuals accused of domestic violence, we are aware that many accusations are either untrue or exaggerated. We also understand that there are two sides to every story. Unfortunately, the police and prosecutors typically listen only to the accuser’s side when they decide to make an arrest or file charges.
Our job is to make sure that the system treats people fairly and reasonably. We are advocates for human beings accused of crime, not for social issues. We know that many of our clients are wrongly accused and that other accusations are blown out of proportion. Our goal is to make prosecutors, judges, and juries look beyond the hype and arrive at a reasonable disposition of domestic violence charges.
A level of hysteria surrounds domestic violence cases that affects prosecutors and judges. Advocacy groups equate domestic violence with terrorism. Careers too often depend upon demonizing people who are accused of domestic violence crimes. Stirring up anxiety about domestic violence (usually termed as “raising awareness”) makes it possible for advocacy groups, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors to get more grant money.
Domestic violence is a problem, but like many social problems, it cannot be solved by the criminal justice system. Yet, responding to pressure from advocacy groups, politicians tend to enact harsher criminal laws as an easy response to undesirable behavior. Those laws make life difficult for individuals who are accused of domestic violence crimes. They also make it easy for people who claim to be victims to make trouble for spouses, family members, and current or former dating partners by making false allegations of domestic abuse.
Domestic violence should not be condoned, but neither should false accusations of domestic violence. Studies purport to show that domestic violence is widespread in Texas, but no study has determined how many reports of domestic violence are exaggerated or untrue.
Being accused of a crime can be an intimidating and confusing experience, particularly for clients who have never been exposed to the criminal justice system. This book is meant to take the mystery out of domestic violence charges in Texas, and to give you a basic outline of domestic violence law in Texas so that you can better understand the seriousness of what you are facing, should you be accused of a domestic violence offense.
We also want you to understand that skilled lawyers can raise defenses on your behalf. We always strive to achieve the best outcome for our clients. Every incident has its own set of unique circumstances. This book offers insight into just some of the possible defenses we might be able to assert on your behalf if you find yourself charged with a domestic violence crime.
If you have not been arrested but are worried that someone—a spouse or a family member—has contacted (or will contact) the police to file a report of domestic violence accusing you, you should obtain immediate legal advice.
This kind of advance preparation for your encounter with the police might prevent charges from even being filed in the first place, which is the best in this bad situation.
Alternatively, if you are in fact arrested and charged, following your lawyer’s advice could help you avoid a conviction.
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
This book is intended to help people who are facing domestic violence proceedings, including people who have been or may be charged with domestic violence crimes.
We want to provide useful information about Texas law as it exists on the date this edition of the book was published. Since the content is limited to Texas law, you should not rely upon this book for guidance if you are facing a domestic violence prosecution in another state.
Keep in mind that the law is complex and always subject to change. In addition, every case is different. The basic information that this book provides cannot cover every situation that might arise. There may be exceptions to general rules that apply in your specific case.
To know exactly how the law applies to the facts of your case, you should talk to a criminal defense lawyer who handles domestic violence cases.
Also, keep in mind that while this book has been written to provide you with important information, it does not provide legal advice. It is important that you understand that nothing in this book creates an attorney-client relationship between you and any lawyer or law firm.
If you want to obtain legal advice, you should meet with a lawyer in person so that you can explain the specific facts of your case.
TERMS IN THE BOOK
For the sake of simplicity, we use certain terms as shorthand expressions throughout this book, which we define in the glossary at the back, starting on page 12 We will typically put those terms in boldface so that you know the term has a specific intended meaning. So, if you see a boldface term in this book that you’re unsure of, you can flip to the glossary in the back to verify its meaning.
OTHER WAYS WE CAN HELP
We hope this book provides you with useful information and guidance, but when it comes time to defend against an accusation of domestic violence, you need an experienced attorney at your side. The lawyers at Hamilton Grant are always available to consult with and to represent individuals charged with domestic violence offenses in Texas.
Feel free to schedule an appointment at one of your convenient offices in Corpus Christi, El Paso, Lubbock, Midland, Odessa, Amarillo, and Abilene.