Sometimes family members, especially spouses or those involved in serious relationships, have arguments. And arguments sometimes turn bad. If the police are called, what would normally be a situation resolved with a counselor, pastor, or at worst in family court, can now result in criminal charges.
Because of high profile cases, sometimes involving celebrities, sometimes involving gory and brutal details that have made them nationally notorious, law enforcement authorities assume the worst when they are called. The officers’ intentions, as well as those of the prosecutors who advise them are often misguided attempts to prevent a bad situation from becoming worse, and not because they are out to harm you. The result, however, is the same: you go to jail.
What is a Domestic Violence / Family Assault / Domestic Abuse Case?
Domestic and Family Violence are terms that do not just apply to those who are married or related by blood. However, the law has much broader definition. If you are related to an individual you are considered family members. However, if you are married, dating, live together, or EVER HAVE, you are, and will forever be considered family members. The law treats you the same.
What are the criminal consequences of a Domestic Violence conviction?
A CLASS C MISDEMEANOR Assault involving Domestic Violence carries a penalty of a fine in an amount up to $500.00. A Class C Assault is one in which a person makes “offensive contact” with another. A first offense for a CLASS A MISDEMEANOR Assault involving Domestic Violence carries a punishment range of up to 1 year in the county jail and a fine up to $4,000.00. An assault is a Class A Misdemeanor that causes bodily injury. Bodily injury in Texas can be something minor enough that leaves no marks, but causes the alleged victim ANY amount of physical pain. A second offense, regardless of its severity is a THIRD DEGREE FELONY and carries a punishment range from 2 to 10 years in PRISON and a fine up to $10,000.00. An allegation of Domestic Violence involving choking or strangling in which the alleged victim has his/her breath or blood impeded in any way, is a THIRD DEGREE FELONY, even for a first offender. A second offender charged with a Domestic Violence case involving choking or strangling is a SECOND DEGREE FELONY and carries a punishment range from 2 years to 20 years in PRISON and a fine up to $10,000.00.
Aggravated Assault, whether with a Deadly Weapon or that results in Serious Bodily Injury is a second degree felony. HOWEVER, an Aggravated Assault of a Family Member in which a Deadly Weapon is used AND results in Serious Bodily Injury is a FIRST DEGREE FELONY and carries a punishment range of 5 years to 99 years or LIFE in PRISON and a fine up to $10,000.00. Not only do Domestic Violence cases carry very strict sentences along with them, but once you are found guilty, or even enter a plea of guilty or no contest and are placed on any type of community supervision, under Federal law you will never be allowed to own, possess, or transport a firearm or ammunition. This law applies to you no matter what level of Domestic Violence case you were involved with – even a Class C Misdemeanor with “offensive contact.”
What are the immigration consequences of a Domestic Violence conviction?
If you are not a United States citizen, even if you have lived here almost your entire life, upon a conviction or plea of guilty or no contest to a Domestic Violence charge, the Federal government can, and in all likelihood WILL deport you, exclude you from admission to the United States, and deny your attempts to become a United States citizen. This is the case no matter what level of Domestic Violence case you were involved with and no matter how long you have lived in the U.S.
What is a Protective / Restraining Order?
In the world of Domestic Violence, there are a few types of Protective Orders issued by courts. The first type is called a Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection, or MOEP, and is issued by a criminal court on the first court setting or by a Magistrate upon finding that Probable Cause exists (usually within 48 hours of arrest). A MOEP can be requested by the alleged victim of the assault, the police officer who investigated the case or made the arrest, or a prosecutor reviewing the case. Even if the alleged victim does not want a MOEP, the court can make the Order anyway. In fact, in the case of an Aggravated Assault of a Deadly Weapon, the law requires that the court enter a MOEP whether or not anyone has requested it. A MOEP can last either 61 days or 91 days depending on your case. The MOEP will keep you from going within 200 feet of the alleged victim’s residence, even if it is also your residence and you pay the bills.
Under a MOEP, you will not be allowed to communicate with the alleged victim or members of the victim’s family (including children, whether or not they are also yours), in what could be considered a threatening or harassing manner. Violating the conditions of a MOEP is a new criminal charge; the new case can be a FELONY or a MISDEMEANOR depending on various circumstances. Another type of Protective Order encountered along with Domestic Violence cases is a Permanent Protective Order. The Permanent orders are not actually permanent, but last for 2 years. Judges in Family Courts usually issue Permanent Protective Orders and they are much more extensive than MOEP’s.
If you are facing a domestic violence or assault charge, contact us today so we can discuss your case.