Ways a Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Can Help You in Texas
Should you hire a defense attorney to fight your domestic violence charge? Absolutely, and here’s why…
If you face a domestic violence charge or accusation in the Houston area, Sugar Land, The Woodlands or elsewhere in Southeast Texas, you may be interested in learning how a domestic violence defense lawyer can help you. If so, you’ve come to the right place: the award-winning Neal Davis Law Firm.
Domestic violence defenses in court
Domestic violence defenses in court depend upon the circumstances of the individual case.
Often, a claim or accusation of domestic violence is made in the heat of the moment after an argument between spouses or people in a dating relationship. A false claim of domestic violence may be made in retaliation for a non-violent disagreement, or it may be made to gain leverage in a custody fight or other legal dispute.
Again, your legal defense will depend on the circumstances of your case, but such defenses may include the following strategies.
Perhaps a man was assaulted by an angry woman and he responded in self-defense. Yet the domestic violence claim to police may come only from the woman, who asserts that only the man behaved violently.
In this case, self-defense can be a defense at trial, but it must be established that the self-defense was proportionate to an initial attack by the alleged victim.
Also, there must have been no reasonable opportunity to retreat or escape from the initial attack or threat of attack.
Self-defense is the most common defense against a charge of domestic assault, or assault in general.
It could be that an injury suffered by a person who claimed to be a victim of domestic assault or family violence was the result of an accident, and not an attack. Perhaps someone slipped and hit their head on an object, and the injury was not purposely or recklessly inflicted by anyone. In that case, accidental injury could be claimed as a domestic violence defense.
Under Texas law, prosecutors must prove that a defendant acted recklessly, knowingly and with intent to cause bodily injury. An accidental injury caused by clumsiness or a misstep would not qualify. Your defense lawyer may be able to argue that any injury caused was unintentional and was an accident or a mistake.
A domestic violence charge involving choking is very serious, since it can raise the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony and can lead to extensive jail time. If choking is claimed in the complaint, the prosecution must prove that the defendant impaired breathing or blood flow by choking the victim. A skilled domestic assault defense attorney can fight to refute an unfounded claim of choking.
Defense attorney tips to help your case
An experienced defense attorney for domestic violence also can provide you with tips to help support your defense. Among them are:
- Advising you not to communicate any details of your case in emails or on social media. Anything you post or send online (or in any recorded form) may be retrieved and used against you in court. In online posts, you could risk admitting a degree of guilt and also establish that you are bitter or angry toward an alleged victim. Such things would only hurt you at trial.
- Advising you not to confront the alleged victim. You should not do this, either in person or by phone or other means. For one thing, contacting the victim may lead to an escalation of hostilities and yet another claim of domestic violence. Also, such contact may be a violation of a protective order if that has been made. Prosecutors even could construe contacting the victim as witness tampering and obstructing an investigation of domestic violence, which could bring additional charges against you.
Protective orders can be challenged
If the alleged victim in a domestic violence case petitions the court for a protective order to keep you away, such an order can prohibit you not only from seeing that person, but also from entering your home or seeing your children.
If you wish to challenge such a protective order, you have 14 days to do so after notification of it. Before that time elapses you and your defense lawyer must appear at a hearing to challenge the order.
In some cases a 20-day protective order may be issued without giving you the opportunity to challenge it. But a permanent or final protective order, which can last for up to 2 years, requires that you have the chance to challenge the order at a hearing.
A dropped claim doesn’t mean a dropped charge
If your accuser had a change of heart and admits to making a false claim of domestic assault, he or she may ask that the charge be dropped. But a claimant has no legal power to drop such a charge. Only the district attorney or prosecutors who filed the complaint can do that.
Often, prosecutors will continue to proceed with a case, despite an alleged victim recanting or asking that a charge be dropped. Prosecutors do this, in part, to protect persons who ask that a charge be dropped while under duress, and who still face possible assaults.
That’s why it is vital that you engage a knowledgeable domestic violence defense lawyer as quickly as possible to investigate the case right away and start preparing a defense. Your defense lawyer can also confer with prosecutors to seek that the charge be dropped.
Avoid severe penalties for domestic violence
Your domestic violence defense lawyer can fight for your legal right to avoid the severe penalties and punishments for domestic violence in Texas.
Even for a first-time offense, which is a Class A misdemeanor, you may face 1 year in county jail and a fine of as much as $4,000. If you were in a dating relationship or if you had 1 or more prior domestic assault convictions, the charge could be raised to a third-degree felony. That can bring prison time of 2 to 10 years and a fine of as much as $10,000.
As you can see, protecting your legal rights is crucial if you face a charge of domestic violence, domestic assault or family violence. To protect your rights, you must engage a skilled domestic violence defense lawyer with the experience and knowledge to handle your case.