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Dallas Domestic Assault Lawyer | How to Beat a Family Violence Charge

Dallas Domestic Assault Lawyer Serving Dallas, North Texas 

In Dallas, domestic assault charges are common. It’s not unusual for police to receive a call about a domestic disturbance and show up at a home where a couple has been arguing or fighting – or maybe it’s an altercation between brothers, roommates, or even a parent and a grown child. Unfortunately, the police are probably going to take someone in custody. Now, the stakes just got higher.

If you or a loved one have been accused of domestic violence, it’s important to contact an experienced Dallas domestic assault lawyer right away. Domestic violence charges can adversely impact your future, and the sooner an attorney can get start building your defense, the better off you will be.

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Various actions constitute domestic violence in Texas. In this article, we will explain the offenses, the punishments, collateral consequences, and possible defenses that might apply. But first, please watch this informative video by Board Certified Criminal Defense Attorney Benson Varghese.

What constitutes domestic violence charges in Dallas?

In Texas, there are several types of domestic violence charges, which we will discuss in more detail below:

  • Domestic assault – also known as Assault Bodily Injury against a Family Member (ABI-FM)
  • Aggravated Domestic Assault
  • Continuous Family Violence
  • Assault by Choking or Strangulation

What is considered a family or household member in domestic violence cases?

In Texas, the law is very broad when determining who constitutes a family or household member in domestic violence cases. It encompasses people related by blood, marriage, and adoption, as well as people in intimate relationships and anyone living within the home.

Texas Family Code § 71.001-.0021 defines assault on a family member as:

  • An act of violence committed against an individual with whom a person has or has had a dating relationship.
  • An assault is committed against any person of the same household, of blood relation, or within a romantic relationship.
  • A child in the household is abused by a member of the household.

A household is defined as any of the following relationships:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Parents of a child not in a relationship or household
  • Parent and foster child
  • Current and former roommates
  • Relatives (either by blood, marriage, or adoption)
  • Past and current romantic partners

What is Assault Bodily Injury-Family Member in Texas? 

In Texas, a person commits the offense of Assault Bodily Injury of a Family Member – also known as ABI-FM – if he or she causes an injury to a family or household member that caused pain.  That’s it. There’s no requirement for a showing of visible injuries.

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What’s the punishment for ABI-FM?

ABI-FM is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4000 fine.  However, if the assault is a second offense for ABI-FM – regardless of how much time has passed – it is a third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.

What is Aggravated Assault of a Family Member?

A person commits aggravated assault of a family member, also referred to as aggravated domestic assault, if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:

  • causes serious bodily injury to another person, which could broken bones, disfigurement, loss of a limb, head injuries, or injuries that require surgery or hospitalization.
  • Uses or brandishes a deadly weapon during an assault. This can include threatening someone with assault or engaging in offensive conduct. A deadly weapon is an object capable of causing death or serious bodily injury and can include just about anything, including a gun, knife, rope, rock, bat, etc.

What’s the punishment for Aggravated Assault of a Family Member?

Aggravated assault of a family member is generally a second-degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. However, it’s a first-degree felony crime if the defendant used a deadly weapon during the assault and caused serious bodily injury.

What is Continuous Family Violence in Dallas?

Under Section 25.11 of the Texas Penal Code, a person commits continuous family violence if he or she commits assault against a family or household member two or more times within a 12 -month period.

What is the punishment for Continous Family Violence in Texas?

Continuous family violence is a third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.

What is Assault by Choking/Strangulation?

A person commits assault by choking/strangulation if he or she impedes the breath or circulation of blood by applying pressure to the person’s throat or neck or by blocking a person’s nose or mouth.

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What is the punishment for Assault by Choking/Strangulation of a Family Member?

Assault of a family member by choking is a third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,00 fine. Any subsequent conviction is a third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Family Violence Assault Offense collateral consequences

In addition to facing possible jail time and fines, a family violence assault conviction can have severe collateral consequences on your future, including:

  • If you are convicted or placed on probation for a family violence offense, you lose your right to own or possess a firearm.
  • If you are convicted for Assault Bodily Injury-Family Member (usually a Class A misdemeanor), prosecutors can enhance the charge if you are arrested in the future for the same offense. Assault Bodily Injury on a Family with a Previous Conviction is a third-degree felony, with a range of punishment from 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
  • If you hold a professional license, a family violence arrest or conviction can result in a license revocation.

Can the alleged victim drop the case in Dallas?

No, only prosecutors can drop domestic violence charges. However, the alleged victim could complete an “affidavit of non-prosecution,” which details what happened and why they don’t want the defendant prosecuted. Many prosecutors are skeptical of affidavits of non-prosecution, however, so it may not have any bearing on the case.

Are there Domestic Violence Diversion Programs or Pre-Trial Diversion Programs in Dallas?

Yes, Dallas does offer domestic violence diversion programs, including the Intercepted Diversion Program in Dallas County for a misdemeanor assault family violence case. If the defendant successfully completes this nine-month program, they will not be prosecuted.

Defendants are selected for the program after a comprehensive screening and assessment process. Candidates must be under age 25 and have no prior assault or violent charges, and must be committed to changing their life. If you believe you are a good candidate, speak with your attorney about applying for this comprehensive and intensive program.

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How can I fight my Dallas family violence assault case?

Texas courts are tough on domestic violence cases, but the evidence is often scarce and comes down to a  “he said, she said” scenario. That’s why it is so important to have a skilled Dallas domestic assault lawyer on your side who will aggressively defend the accusations by questioning the evidence, attacking the credibility of the victim or witnesses, and challenging the prosecution’s case every step of the way.

Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, there are a number of defense strategies that an experienced Dallas domestic assault lawyer could possibly pursue, including getting the case dismissed for lack of evidence, negotiating a plea agreement to a lesser charge, facilitating entry into a diversion program, or arguing self-defense or a lack of intent or knowledge to harm before a jury or judge.

Our team of experienced attorneys have decades of experience handling domestic violence cases, and we will do everything in our power to produce the most favorable outcome possible. Call 214-903-4300 for a free consultation with a Dallas domestic assault lawyer.

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