What Are Continuous Family Violence Laws in Texas?
Definition, penalties and possible defenses for continuous family violence charges
If you face a charge of continuous violence against the family, you should know what you’ll face in the legal arena due to continuous family violence laws in Texas. Continue reading this article for more information.
First, let’s begin with a definition.
What is continuous family violence?
You may be asking: What is continuous family violence? This is explained in the Texas Penal Code (Section 25.11), which describes continuous violence against the family in this way:
“A person commits an offense if, during a period that is 12 months or less in duration, the person two or more times engages in conduct that constitutes an offense under Section 22.01(a)(1) against another person or persons whose relationship to or association with the defendant is described by Section 71.0021(b), 71.003, or 71.005, Family Code.”
This means that two or more domestic assaults have been alleged against family members within the space of 1 year. Also, it doesn’t matter if none of the alleged assaults so far have led to a charge.
As for the type of offense mentioned in Section 22.01(a)(1), it happens when a person “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse.” The term “recklessly” means the injury was caused unintentionally, although that still constitutes an assault.
In addition to a spouse, continuous violence against the family can occur when such violence is directed at blood relatives, as well as:
- Parents of children without regard to marriage
- Boyfriend or girlfriend
- A person in a dating relationship
- Former spouse
- Foster children
- Foster parents
Texas law also holds that such persons can be considered a family whether or not they live together.
Also keep in mind that the same family member doesn’t have to be involved in each of the allegations. In other words, violence in multiple incidents can be directed at different persons in each incident and still be considered continuous violence against a family.
New Texas law for continuous violence against the family
It should also be noted that a new Texas law for continuous violence against the family has been passed as a bill by the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate.
Known as Rachel’s Law, in honor of a victim of family violence, it holds that a district attorney can pursue a charge of continuous violence against the family even if the alleged domestic violence incidents happened in different counties.
Texas punishments for continuous violence against the family
As for penalties and punishments in Texas for continuous violence against the family, the crime is considered a third degree felony, which is less serious than a first degree felony, but still is a serious charge. Texas punishments for a third degree felony include a prison sentence of between 2 and 10 years, and a fine of up to $10,000.
By itself, a domestic assault is a Class A misdemeanor if the defendant has no previous convictions for domestic assault. Texas punishments for a Class A misdemeanor include up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both.
These punishments make it clear that continuous violence against the family is considered a more severe crime than domestic violence, since it involves more than a single allegation.
False allegations of continuous violence against the family
Have you been falsely accused of continuous violence against the family? False allegations are often made after heated arguments or during divorce of child custody proceedings, even though violence has never occurred.
Unfortunately, even if the accuser later has a change of heart and withdraws the accusations, he or she cannot drop a charge after it has been made. Only the prosecutor in the case can drop the charge, and often that’s not done at the request of the accuser. This is done to ensure that protection is provided for accusers who may have been bullied or coerced to request that a valid charge be dropped.
Even a spouse cannot drop a charge of domestic assault against a husband or wife. Instead, an investigation and possible prosecution will proceed.
Defenses against continuous violence against the family
If you or a loved one faces a false charge of continuous violence against the family in Houston, Harris County, Fort Bend County or Montgomery County, you need the best defense lawyer you can find to refute the charge.
The award-winning Neal Davis Law Firm has years of experience tackling these cases and has fought for defendants’ rights, both at trial and pre-trial.
One possible defense against such a domestic assault charge is to assert that the defendant acted out of self-defense. In fact, this argument is the most common defense against such a charge. But claiming self-defense is not as simple as it may sound. It necessitates proving that the defendant was threatened with unlawful force or harm, and responded appropriately in self-defense.
Also, there must have been no reasonable chance of escaping or retreating, and the force which was applied in self-defense must have been in proportion to the threat. Overreacting can negate a claim of self-defense.
It may also be possible to prove that no assault actually occurred. Or, it may be possible to establish that the alleged assault was unintentional, a mistake, or was done with lack of knowledge.
Your defense lawyer may be able to get the complainant to withdraw the accusation — though, as previously noted, this doesn’t mean a charge will be automatically dropped. Even so, it can hurt the prosecution’s case if the accuser relents.
Hire the best a domestic assault defense lawyer
Each case is unique. Whatever your case may be, you need a knowledgeable domestic assault defense lawyer or attorney to protect your legal rights and fight for your freedom.
Contact the Neal Davis Law Firm to get the legal experience and skills you will need to face a charge of continuous violence against the family or some other type of domestic assault charge.
We will quickly provide you with a legal review of your case, and we’ll explain your legal options to you. Then, you can decide how you wish to proceed. Let’s get started today.