If you are charged with, or are under investigation for, a domestic violence offense in Texas, never try to resolve the problem on your own. Any contact with the victim could result in additional charges. You should speak to an experienced Texas domestic violence attorney immediately because every case is different and the outcome often will turn on the particular facts involved and, in many cases, a complex legal analysis regarding the admissibility of evidence.
If you have been accused of a crime in which the alleged victim is related to you by marriage, lives with you, or has been in a sexual relationship with you, the offense may fall within the statutory definition of “domestic violence” in Texas. Domestic violence can take many forms, from simple assault to murder. A Texas domestic violence crime can also result from the violation of an order of protection, such as a restraining order. The case can be prosecuted even if the violation is relatively minor, such as a late phone call to a child or an ex-spouse while an order is in effect. Verbal abuse coupled with threats may be enough to result in an arrest and conviction for domestic violence.
In recent years, the Texas legislature has focused on strengthening the Texas domestic violence laws. For example, strangulation that impedes a victim’s breathing for any length of time is automatically considered a felony. As a result, Texas law enforcement has developed vigorous new policies, the court system has implemented many changes, and prosecuting attorneys have taken an active role in enforcing both new and existing laws. In many cases, prosecutors will file charges against the alleged abuser and aggressively pursue the case, even where the victim does not wish to press charges and refuses to actively participate in the prosecution. The State brings the criminal charges, not the victim.
The consequence of a domestic violence conviction can be very severe. A conviction could result in limitations in child visitation rights, loss of gun privileges, mandatory counseling, probation, jail or in the most serious cases a prison sentence. Domestic violence cases involving weapons or injury are often prosecuted as felonies. The disposition will depend on the particular facts and legal issues of your case and you should hire an experienced attorney to do so as quickly as possible.
I recently moved to Denison Texas and the only radio station that comes in well on my ranch is a little country radio station, and while I was listening a song by Tyler Farr called “Redneck Crazy” came on the radio and the verse below played and I instantly though of all of the clients I have both male and female, with domestic violence charges. The verse is as below:
”I’m gonna aim my headlights into your bedroom windows
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows
I didn’t come here to start a fight, but I’m up for anything tonight
You know you broke the wrong heart baby, and drove me redneck crazy……Yeah….
My clients accused of domestic assault are mostly men but I do have PLENTY of women with these charges and vast majority of these folks are completely mild mannered, nice, respectable people who have good jobs, children, and are very nice folks. They get into situations where the situation gets out of hand and sometimes I think they just go a little “redneck crazy.” Unfortunately the law is such that it leaves little leeway for just a little redneck crazy and serious charges. The pendulum has swung when in the past there was the perception that officers would blame the victim or turn a blind eye to now where if the police are called to a domestic violence call; someone is almost always going to jail no matter what the situation is.
Unfortunately it is true that there are the abusive men and women who habitually beat and injure their family members and for those folks police intervention is there for a reason. However, any person who regularly loses their temper and resorts to violence typically has some serious mental issues and unfortunately the law, no matter how serious the sentence, isn’t going to change their behavior. In my opinion these folks are sick and need treatment that often times they don’t have access to. Many of these folks are breadwinners for the family and their actions and the subsequent trouble they get in causes misery and hardship beyond words for the people that love them. Worse yet those who love them are usually the victims both from the abuse and the sentencing. I represent these folks because I believe everyone has a right to the best defense they can get and for the ones who really are abusive we need to make sure they get treatment that jail sentences don’t provide. Also, this is very much the minority of the domestic assault cases that I visit with and represent.
The other issue is that one can get lumped into this big minority of serious abusers if there is a second or third offense. Then the law is looking at you like you’re a major abuser when you’re not. Lots of times there are just relationships that are tumultuous and explosive in good and bad ways. Or there is one member of the relationship that panics and calls the police. When the cops are called someone is usually going to jail right or wrong in domestic violence situations. These clients are the good folks that keep me up at night. I know they don’t really need help, they are not abusers; they were just in bad situations. I know the prosecutors don’t care and want to do whatever they can to put these people away regardless of the consequences to their family, or livelihood. That’s when treating every case like it’s going to trial is key. These are tough cases that require the work, interviews, and client preparation. Because we keep an open mind and we’re willing to put the work in on these cases, our clients get great results.
Then a lot of our cases are the “one-off“ or “few –and- far” between instances of someone losing their temper and just being very foolish. That doesn’t make it right but I don’t think these folks deserve the punishments that can result from that lack of judgment. The anger and foolishness often times goes both ways. For instance I have a client who is a big body builder and was in an argument with his girlfriend who is also a body builder. Things got heated and they pushed each other. No guy should ever push or hit a girl and we all learned in kindergarten to “Keep our hands to ourselves.” It’s a bad situation but life happens and things get heated and they did for my client. After the argument he tossed a workout towel at her and told her to dry her eyes. That was a jerky thing to do for sure but he definitely wasn’t trying to kill her. When the police came she told them he put a towel in her face. They charged him with a third degree felony for “restricting her airway.” Later she told the truth that he didn’t try to stop her breathing, only tossed the towel and that she was upset but unfortunately because of the county’s “no drop policy” he was charged anyway. We finally were able to overcome the charges but it left them both with a lot of sleepless nights because of a stupid argument.
Then there are cases almost entirely factually (opposite to the body builders) that we also go to trial for. In one case my female client was accused of beating on her husband, mother in law, and step son. Although she was verbal she never laid a hand on anyone. Not to mention she is only about 5 foot and 90 pounds. Plus we have proof she didn’t do it and all three “victims” refuse to testify. The state refused to drop the case and she now lives out of state. As a result, she spent thousands because of the county’s “no drop policy”. Of course, we can lead the prosecutor to water but can’t always make them drink. Everyone that I speak with thinks the case should be dismissed but for some reason the prosecutor refuses to listen to reason. So fortunately my team treats every case like it will go to trial and we were ready. Finally, at the pretrial (the client was forced to fly in for), the prosecutor came to her senses and dismissed the charges. It was a good outcome but it won’t make up for what she has gone through both financially and emotionally.
Domestic violence is probably treated more seriously than any other misdemeanor offense in Texas. A conviction carries additional fines, the loss of certain rights, and automatically increases any subsequent domestic arrests to felonies. So they are very serious charges and domestic assault is one of the few misdemeanor offenses in Texas for which a police officer can arrest you on the spot without actually witnessing the incident. All the officer needs is probable cause, such as witness statements or evidence of injury, to believe that you made serious threats or committed violence.
Going redneck crazy has major ramifications and these cases carry with them serious repercussions so it is vital no matter where you are to get legal help as soon as possible. My advice is not to make any statements whatsoever without counsel. You have a right to remain silent so remember to use it.