If you or a family member face a charge of domestic violence, you should know that Texas has alternatives to jail or prison for domestic violence convictions.
These alternatives to incarceration depend on the nature of the domestic violence charge. This may be 1 of 3 types of crimes in Texas:
- Domestic assault
- Aggravated domestic assault
- Continuous violence against the family
Avoiding prison is most likely to be granted only to first-time offenders of domestic assault with no aggravating factors.
Domestic assault punishments
Under Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.01, domestic assault is an assault against a member of a family or a household, or a past or current dating partner. Such an assault involves intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to that person; intentionally or knowingly threatening the person with imminent bodily injury—or intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with the person when the offender knows or reasonably should know that the victim will find such contact provocative or offensive.
If the defendant has no previous domestic assault convictions, such a crime is a Class A misdemeanor, with punishments of up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. For a defendant with a previous domestic assault conviction, the crime of domestic assault is a third-degree felony, with punishments of 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Domestic assault alternatives to jail or prison
However, Texas has alternatives to jail or prison for domestic assault.
Chief among them are deferred adjudication and community supervision, which is also known as probation.
One alternative that’s often offered to first-time offenders is “deferred adjudication.” This may be granted when the defendant pleads guilty and the court postpones sentencing for a period of time.
During that time the defendant must comply with probation orders, must have no new arrests and must complete such requirements as finishing domestic violence offender treatment, doing volunteer work in the community or paying restitution.
Restitution involves paying a victim for any costs caused by the crime, such as medical or counseling expenses or the costs to repair or replace property which was damaged in the crime.
When those things are done successfully, the court can dismiss the case and discharge the defendant. However, the arrest, the deferred adjudication and the dismissal will remain on the defendant’s criminal record.
Failure to do these things means the court can enter a conviction and impose a sentence from among those noted above.
Deferred adjudication is not available as a sentencing alternative when the crime is aggravated domestic assault, which can be a first- or second-degree felony, or continuous violence against the family, which is a third-degree felony.
Community supervision or probation
Another alternative to jail or prison when it comes to the crime of domestic assault is community supervision, or probation.
When a defendant pleads guilty or is convicted, the court can grant community supervision instead of imposing a jail or prison sentence. This can be for up to 2 years for a misdemeanor and up to 10 years for a felony.
The court may require a defendant to serve some jail or prison time before starting community supervision. Usually, that is 180 days for a felony and 30 days for a misdemeanor. Then, the community supervision or probation period begins.
If the defendant fails to comply with the community supervision conditions imposed by the court, he or she must return to jail or prison to complete the sentence.
Such conditions may include paying probation costs, meeting with a probation officer and complying with rules such as curfews, treatments, drug tests, maintaining employment and avoiding any more criminal activity or arrests.
Keep in mind that if you are convicted of domestic assault, or if you fail to comply with a protective order, you will face not only jail time but also a criminal record. That can make it difficult for you to prevail in a battle for divorce or child study.
Also, you cannot own or possess firearms, and your current or future employment can be hindered, especially if you are a teacher, pilot, healthcare worker, employee of a city, a county or the state or if you serve in the military.
Get a domestic violence defense lawyer
As you can see, a charge of domestic violence must be taken seriously. To protect your legal rights, you need an experienced domestic assault or domestic violence defense lawyer. Contact the Neal Davis Law Firm today to arrange a confidential consultation with our law firm. We can guide you in how to proceed.
Depending on your individual case, we can work to have a charge reduced or dismissed, or we can fight to win your case at trial. We also can work to gain alternatives to jail or prison if you face a domestic assault conviction.