Fort Worth Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
Work with a Fort Worth domestic violence attorney who can help get your charges reduced or dismissed.
In relationships, arguments can quickly turn passionate, resulting in poor heat-of-the-moment decisions. Once the police are called, what seemed like a simple argument between you and your spouse or another family member has now escalated into a legal nightmare. Police and prosecutors are strict when it comes to domestic violence (also called domestic abuse), and they often don’t have much sympathy for your side of the story. The case may be that the best chance you have for a positive outcome is to contact a domestic violence attorney who will listen to you and fight for your rights. We understand the frustration you are feeling when the world, including your own family members, seems to have turned against you.
Call a domestic violence defense lawyer from our office to start working on your defense today.
What Is a Family Violence or Domestic Violence Charge in Fort Worth?
Domestic violence laws vary from state to state, but in Texas, domestic violence, also known as family violence, is basically any attempt to intentionally cause bodily injury to a person with whom you have a domestic relationship. “Domestic relationship” is broadly defined as a relationship with any of the people listed below:
- Anyone you are in a dating relationship with
- Foster family members
- Anyone living in the same household
To prove you’re guilty of the Fort Worth domestic violence charge against you, the prosecutors must be able to prove one of the following:
- That you intentionally caused physical bodily harm to another person you have a domestic relationship with
- That you threatened physical bodily harm to a person you’re in a domestic relationship with
- That you intentionally or knowingly caused contact with a person you’re in a domestic relationship with, and you were aware the person would take offense or find the contact provocative
What Are The Penalties For A Domestic Violence Charge in Fort Worth?
The penalties for family violence in Fort Worth depend largely on the circumstances. For example, the seriousness of the injury will play a large role in whether the violence is charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The following are a few of the factors that will determine whether you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor:
- Your relationship to the injured party
- Whether you have a history of domestic violence
- Whether suffocation or strangulation was involved in the alleged violence
- Other aggravating or mitigating factors
Again, depending on the seriousness of your Fort Worth domestic or family violence case, you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor all the way up to a first-degree felony. The following information summarizes the penalties for these types of convictions:
- Assault Causing Bodily Injury to a Family Member is a Class A Misdemeanor – You could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
- Assault by Impeding Breathe or Choking of a Family Member is a Third-Degree Felony – You could be sentenced to between two and ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Assault of Family Member With Prior Assault is a Second-Degree Felony – You could be sentenced to between two and twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Assault of Family Member twice in 12 moths is a First-Degree Felony – You could be sentenced to between 2 and 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
Can The Victim Drop Charges?
The district attorney of Tarrant County has a no-drop policy on cases where a family member is assaulted with bodily injury. But that doesn’t mean that the case cannot be dropped or dismissed. Skilled attorney Jeff C. Kennedy has had these types of cases dropped regardless of the policy. Depending on your circumstances, there are many options and variables to discuss.
What is an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution?
The victim files a sworn legal document that expresses to the prosecutor that the victim would like to dismiss or drop all charges. This does not mean the district attorney will follow through and dismiss or drop the case. There are steps that need to be taken if this is a solution for your case. Meetings need to be arranged with the Tarrant County victim coordinator, and assistance district attorney. Every case has its own set of unique circumstances, and its always a smart idea to hire an attorney that has handled these cases in your county, and understands how the prosecution will view the case, and what they will most likely do.
What is an Emergency Protective Order?
An EPO is a court order prohibiting a person charged with family violence from doing certain actions, with a goal of protecting the victim. This can prevent the accused from communicating or harassing in a threatening manner. They can be stopped from going within 500 feet of work, school or home. These types of requests can be requested from police officers for the victim or the state attorney.
- Effective for 31 to 91 days depending on the victims specific injuries involved.
- The person accused of family violence cannot possess a firearm (federal law)
If you have an EPO against you, its important you contact an attorney for guidance. Violating these ordered can ruin your chances in court or dismissal of the case.
What If I Plead Guilty to Domestic Violence?
Many people wrongly assume that a charge of domestic violence in Fort Worth automatically makes them guilty in the court’s eyes. When you plead guilty right away, you are damaging your criminal record for life, creating a history of violence that other people can point to. Put simply, you may be causing hardships in your life beyond the associated legal penalties. In some cases, pleading guilty to domestic violence could lead to the loss of your family relationships, including custody of your children, and that’s just a start. You could also lose your job, hindering all of your attempts at financial stability. Don’t risk your entire future by pleading guilty to a charge without speaking with a Fort Worth domestic violence charge lawyer first.
What Usually Happens in a Domestic Violence Case From Start To Finish?
Typical Domestic Violence Case Proceedings
Domestic violence involves allegations of violence between family members, married couples, or domestic partners. In order to prove domestic violence, a prosecutor must demonstrate that the suspect knowingly or intentionally threatened to harm, harmed, or engaged in objectionable physical contact against another person.
Domestic violence proceedings tend to be emotionally charged, given that they are usually filed against people who know each other well. Factors that could influence the outcome include the nature of the alleged violence, the relationship between the individuals, and any record of past abuse or convictions.
When someone reports domestic violence, the aftermath can determine what usually happens in these types of cases. An officer arriving on the scene may make an arrest, but arrests may also be made after the event in question. Police will lead an investigation, and all witnesses will be questioned.
Many different forms of violence could be treated as domestic violence, and punishments can range from a night in jail to up to years in prison. False allegations can also be treated as misdemeanors. In the end, the outcome of the case—and its timeline— will be determined by the prosecution’s investigation into the facts.
How Do Defense Attorneys Handle Domestic Violence Cases?
Domestic violence is a very serious charge. Sometimes, the prosecution in a domestic violence case decides to press forward with charges based on incomplete evidence or a rapid police interview. This isn’t good for anyone, and especially the person facing a charge on spurious evidence.
Fortunately, regardless of the violent crime charges you’re facing, you’re entitled to a robust legal defense—and it’s no different when you’ve been accused of domestic violence. Contacting a defense lawyer as soon as possible can help you clear your name. Read on if you’re wondering how to fight a domestic violence charge.
Here Is How We Defend Our Clients With Family Violence Charges in Fort Worth
When a prosecutor decides to press domestic violence charges, they are ideally doing so on the basis of purported evidence. As is the case with many criminal charges, the facts in a domestic violence case can be distorted or disputed based on their representation in court.
Just because a family member called police and accused you of assault doesn’t make it true. And it doesn’t make a strong defense impossible. The following are a few of the defenses your attorney may be able to apply in your case:
- The injury against your family member was unintentional or a mistake. For example, you were swinging your arms around while working out and accidentally hit your family member. The injured family member might have believed it was intentional, but you know it wasn’t.
- There was no offense and your family member is lying. For example, you and your girlfriend got into a dispute, and she told you that, if you didn’t do what she wanted, she would call the police and accuse you of domestic violence. Often, family members falsely accuse their loved ones of violence in an attempt to manage their behavior.
- The violence was in self-defense or defense of others. In this example, you will admit to violence; however, you were defending yourself or others from a family member’s attack. This is the classic “he said, she said” when it comes to the matter of who attacked first. If the prosecution can’t prove that you started the violence, your charges could be dropped.
Some key evidence that the prosecution can use in a domestic violence case includes:
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Audio or video recordings
- Medical records
- Social media posts
- Text messages
However, the above evidence only tells a part of the story. The role of a defense attorney is to introduce doubt into the overall picture of the evidence. If done successfully, this can achieve two things: It can get a prosecutor to reconsider, or it can lead a jury to acquit the defendant of all charges.
An experienced attorney can use any of the following tactics to introduce doubt into the overall picture of the evidence:
- Pointing out inconsistencies in the narrative
- Discussing where evidence may contradict itself
- Revealing the biases or hidden motivations of the other party
- Proving the implausibility of the story
- Proving that the arresting officers made procedural errors, such as not reading your Miranda Rights
The Statute of Limitations on Domestic Violence in Texas
For any given crime, it may not always be possible for a prosecutor to immediately present charges. Sometimes, the evidence for a crime may be spurious, or a victim comes forward much later on after an alleged crime has been committed. The statute of limitations imposes a deadline on the amount of time that can pass between when a crime has been committed or discovered and the filing of charges.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for the misdemeanor crime of assault is two years. It’s important to keep in mind that charges similar to domestic violence may have different timelines. For example, the crime of continuous violence against the family is a felony, meaning the statute becomes three years instead of two.
You Need a Domestic Violence Attorney On Your Side
Being arrested for domestic violence doesn’t take away your rights. You are entitled to tell your side of the story and fight to preserve your record and your reputation. Don’t try to fight the charge on your own. You have a much better chance of beating a domestic violence charge with an experienced attorney by your side. Contact Law Offices of Jeff C. Kennedy. We will examine your domestic violence case and work tirelessly to build the defense that will best serve you. Call us today at 817-605-1010 to arrange a free consultation. You may also complete our website contact form below.