In Texas, domestic violence is defined as the use of force in a domestic situation that results in bodily injury, threatens to cause bodily injury or causes any kind of physical contact a person might consider offensive, unwanted or provocative. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) exists to assist people who have been victims of domestic violence, but it’s also important to know what legal options you have available to you if you’re a victim in a domestic disturbance in Texas.
In a domestic violence case, a prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (as it is a criminal case) that the defendant committed the violent offense willingly or intentionally. If there was a bodily injury that occurred as a result of the defendant’s actions, the prosecutor must also provide showing the defendant acted recklessly and/or intentionally and that those actions directly led to the injury in question.
Here’s an overview of what you should know about domestic violence laws from a criminal attorney in Lubbock, TX.
The basics of Texas domestic violence laws
When most people hear about domestic violence, they think about disturbances that occur between spouses. However, the laws in the state don’t just apply to spousal disturbances, but also to anyone who resides in the same household, anyone who is related by blood (or affinity, such as foster parents and foster children) and people in “dating relationships.”
The state considers domestic violence to be an assault against a family member, household member or dating partner, such as:
- Intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury to that person
- Intentionally or knowingly threatening another person with bodily injury
- Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another person that the offender knows will make the victim uncomfortable, will offend them or will provoke them
There are some defenses available to people who are accused of domestic violence or similar offenses. In some cases, the defendant may try to prove the act was unintentional and there was no intent to hurt the other person. For an act to qualify as domestic violence, there must be evidence of intent or extreme recklessness. When intent does not exist, it becomes much more difficult to secure a conviction.
Other defenses include a lack of knowledge (the defendant did not know his or her actions would hurt the other person), that the offense in question did not occur (usually such cases involve asserting a lack of evidence on the prosecution’s part) or that the actions were performed in self-defense.
Penalties for domestic violence range from Class C misdemeanors on the low end, which can carry up to a year in jail and a fine, up to a first-degree felony, which carries five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
For more information about what qualifies as a domestic disturbance or domestic violence in Texas and how the state deals with the issue, reach out to an experienced criminal lawyer in Lubbock, TX at the Law Office of Rob Biggers.
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