A domestic assault charge will usually result in a misdemeanor. Depending on your criminal record, this isn’t always the case. Instead, people with a history of domestic assault could be charged instead with continuous violence against the family, which is a felony-level crime.
Continuous violence against the family carries heavier penalties than a standard domestic assault. A conviction could mean expensive fines and even prison time. Additionally, employers and licensing agencies could pull up your charges with a simple background check. A conviction could affect your professional goals or prohibit you from taking a licensing exam.
If you or someone you know has been charged with continuous violence against the family, it’s imperative you contact a skilled attorney.
Family or household members typically share a deep history. The majority of family issues are complex and can be hard to understand from an outsider’s perspective. The criminal defense attorneys at [firm] understand there are two sides to every story, which is why we want to defend your rights in a court of law.
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Overview of Continuous Violence Against the Family
To deter domestic violence, Texas has implemented stringent laws for repeat offenders. If you have engaged in domestic assault conduct two or more times in one year, then you could be charged with continuous violence against the family.
The jury doesn’t have to unanimously agree on the specifics of the assault or the date of assault to convict you of continuous family violence. Instead they will only need to determine if you have committed domestic assault two or more times within 12 months. This can make a continuous violence charge much more difficult to defend.
The assault doesn’t have to be directed at one family or household member either. Committing domestic assault on multiple members of the family could still lead to charges for continuous violence charges. Continuous violence against the family is a third-degree felony, that can result in:
You must have a criminal history of domestic assault to be charged with continuous violence against the family. The elements of the crime can be found under Texas Penal Code § 22.01. The statute states you don’t have to physically harm another person to be charged. In fact, you could face domestic assault charges because of a threat you made in the heat of the moment.
You could be charged with domestic assault for doing any of the following:
Texas has specific definitions for family and household members under Family Code § 71.004. A “family member” is anyone related to you by consanguinity (blood relative) or affinity (related by marriage). It can also include parents of the same child, foster parents or foster children.
The term “household member” refers to a person who you shared a household with. You don’t have to be related by consanguinity or affinity, but you must have dwelled in the same living unit. People who have moved out since the offense are still considered members of the household.
Domestic assault doesn’t only apply to family or household members. It can also apply to dating relationships. The Family Code states two people are in a dating relationship if they have a continuing romantic relationship. The court will decide if a relationship qualifies as a dating relationship by its length, the nature of the relationship, and the number and type of interactions.
Domestic assault is a class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a $500 fine. If you caused bodily injury to the alleged victim, then your crime will be reclassified as a class A misdemeanor. The penalties for a class A misdemeanor include a fine of up to $4,000 and up to 12 months in prison.
Prosecutors must follow a deadline when filing charges called a statute of limitations. Most crimes have a statute of limitations to maintain the integrity of evidence and eyewitness statements. The prosecution only has a certain amount of time to formally file charges against you. Once that time runs out, they’ll be prohibited from prosecuting you for that crime.
Texas determines the statute of limitations by the severity of the crime. Misdemeanors like domestic assault have a statute of limitations of two years. However, a felony charge like continuous violence against the family has a three-year statute of limitations.
Benchbook for Family Violence – Visit the official website of Texas Courts to gain access to the Texas Family Violence Benchbook, a reference for judges and other legal professionals. Access the document to learn more about protective orders, domestic violence offenses and child custody or support divisions.
Family Violence Report by DPS – Visit the official website of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to read their report on family violence. Access the document to learn more about domestic violence statistics and data in Texas collected by the Department of Public Safety.
Contact [firm] to start your defense plan today. The attorneys at [firm] are aggressive in the courtroom, but compassionate with clients. We will apply our skills and knowledge to create a sturdy defense specially for your case.
You can call us at [phone] to set up a case consultation. [firm] accepts clients throughout the greater Houston metropolitan area including Pasadena, Uptown and River Oaks.
This article was last updated on March 8th, 2019.