Domestic Violence

Richmond Domestic Violence Attorneys

Accused of Domestic Violence? Get 37+ Years of Combined Experience On Your Side!

Although couples and family members love one another, it is not uncommon for disagreements to still occur. When an argument escalates into a physical altercation, the police may intervene and make an arrest. While many incidents involve instant regret, others are based on false allegations in order to gain leverage in a child custody dispute or to exact revenge.

If you are accused of domestic violence in Fort Bend County, you need to fully understand what is at stake, including long-term ramifications for civil rights, parental rights, and employment. At The Law Office of Larry McDougal, we help clients confront the accusations and avoid the worst sanctions. With more than 37 years of collective experience, our Richmond domestic violence lawyers can protect your rights and freedom throughout the legal process and help you get the most favorable result in your case.

While advising you about the criminal aspects of a family violence case, our Richmond domestic violence attorneys can also help you deal with the less immediate but equally important problems that you might need to face with a family court situation or professional licensing complaint.

Our team knows how to present your side of the story so as to cut the allegations down to size. The earlier you engage the services of a knowledgeable attorney, the wider your options will be toward a favorable resolution. You’ll also get sound advice about how best to avoid the chance of a protective order violation.

To find out more about how we can help you after an arrest on domestic assault or family violence charges, call us today at (281) 823-9377 for a free consultation.

Specific Requirements for Domestic Violence Charges

The relationship between the alleged abuser and the victim matters. In order to be considered domestic violence, the two people involved must be in a relationship, were previously in a relationship, currently or formerly shared a home, or have children together. This does mean that if things get physical during an argument with your ex, you might still face this charge. You can also face these charges for actions against a sibling, roommate or anyone else if you shared a home with them.

Additionally, the violent act had to be intentional. There doesn’t have to be an actual physical attack. Threats that construe bodily harm can qualify for domestic violence charges. Actions that the victim considers offensive can also lead to these charges.

Texas Domestic Violence Laws & Penalties

Domestic violence charges can be classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. The classification of the charge has an impact on the penalty that might apply. For example, if the charge is a class C misdemeanor, you face one year in jail. If the charge is a first-degree felony, you face anywhere from 5 to 99 years in prison.

The charge classification depends on several factors. The classification might be more serious if there is strangulation or suffocation involved. Your previous criminal history is another factor, as is your actual relationship with victim.

There are three types of domestic violence offenses in Texas: domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family.

Domestic Assault

Domestic assault means intentionally or recklessly inflicting injury or threatening physical injury to a current or past dating partner, family member, or household member. This domestic violence offense is:

  • A Class A misdemeanor
  • Punishable by a jail term of up to one year
  • And a maximum fine of $4,000.

If an offender has a previous domestic violence charge in Texas that lead to a conviction, then it is a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine not exceeding $10,000.

Examples of what can get you a domestic violence charge in Texas are:

  • Physical abuse - You don’t need to inflict damage that requires medical treatment for there to be a charge. A slap, kick, or shove can all qualify.

  • Psychological abuse - Criminal action can be taken for threats of violence, emotional blackmail, and restricting someone from leaving, among other things.

  • Financial abuse - It is not legal to control certain aspects of your partner’s finances, including opening a credit card in their name.

Not all forms of financial abuse or psychological abuse can be prosecuted as domestic violence, but it is surprising to many people how much of it can be.

Aggravated Domestic Assault

On the other hand, aggravated domestic assault occurs if a person intentionally or recklessly inflicts serious injury, or uses or displays a deadly weapon, on another individual. This offense is a first-degree felony, which carries a maximum prison term of 99 years and a fine no more than $10,000.

A deadly weapon in this case could mean:

  • Firearms

  • Certain types of rope

  • Baseball bats

  • Knives

  • Brass Knuckles

Possessing these items doesn’t automatically mean you have committed aggravated domestic assault; context matters. Using them in a way to scare, intimidate, or threaten are key things that will be evaluated.

Continuous Violence

Lastly, continuous violence against the family occurs when a person commits at least two domestic assaults (without arrest or conviction) on the same victim within a 12-month span. This offense is a third-degree felony.

This family violence charge in Texas is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The law was enacted in an effort to prevent the escalation of domestic violence. Assaults either large or small are not differentiated, so you may be looking at a punishment that is disproportionate to your previous actions.

Domestic violence laws in Texas can be quite complex, and the penalties are often serious, so working with an experienced attorney will give you the boost you need to successfully represent your case.

Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Dropped by the Alleged Victim?

In many cases, the situation eventually calms down and everyone involved wants life to get back to normal. However, it isn’t up to the alleged victim to decide to drop the charges, this is a decision that the prosecutor gets to make, and they rarely drop charges.

The only way to work toward the most favorable outcome is by calling a criminal defense lawyer with experience handling domestic abuse cases. The lawyer can investigate what happened and work with the prosecutor to have the charges dismissed or reach a plea agreement.

Civil Protective Orders and Family Law Proceedings

In addition to facing criminal charges, the alleged abuser could also face a civil protective order. These orders forbid the alleged abuser from contacting the alleged victim and possibly their children. The order may also limit travel and require the alleged abuser to find a new place to live.

If a protective order is put into place, the alleged abuser will lose gun ownership and possession rights and could face professional disciplinary actions in professions such as law enforcement, nursing, teaching, medicine or coaching.

The abuse allegations can also affect family law proceedings. Domestic violence is taken into account in both divorce and child custody cases. For example, an alleged abuser may be ordered to pay alimony to an alleged victim, and he (or she) may be denied custody of the children.

What to Do After Being Accused of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence allegations can affect many aspects of a person’s life. Anyone facing charges or a protective order must work with a lawyer to make sure that his or her rights are protected before an unfortunate chain of events begins to take place.

Resolving the Charges

You shouldn’t think that the victim can drop the charges against you if you end up reconciling. Only the prosecutor can drop charges once they are levied. It is sometimes possible for the victim to stop cooperating with the prosecution; however, this can sometimes lead to problems for the victim if he or she violates court orders like subpoenas.

If you are facing domestic violence charges, you should make sure that you are complying with court orders. This includes the orders of protection that are sometimes issued in these cases. If you have a restraining order, you can’t go around the alleged victim without risking being arrested. In some cases, this will also keep you away from your children, but you must follow the order until you can get the case resolved and the order lifted.

Repercussions of a Domestic Violence Arrest in Texas

Texas law enforcement officials can make an arrest without a warrant if a police officer has probable cause. For example, if an officer notices any sign of injury, such as a red mark, bruise, or even a scratch, that is enough evidence to make a lawful arrest.

The following are the other consequences of a domestic violence arrest in Texas:

  • Removal from your home

  • A protective order that prevents you from seeing your children

  • A knock against you in divorce and custody proceedings

  • Loss of your right to possess firearms

  • Deportation if you are not a naturalized U.S. citizen

  • Sanctions against your professional license

  • Mandatory anger management counseling

Many clients are alarmed to discover that a heated argument or minor altercation can have such serious consequences. Even if the victim recants or refuses to cooperate, the district attorney will not necessarily drop the charges. A weapon, serious injuries or prior convictions may elevate the charges to a felony with the likelihood of jail or prison time.

Defense Options to Consider for DV Charges

There are several defense options that might be appropriate in these cases. If the physical contact or perceived threat was unintentional, you might be able to show that as part of your defense. Self-defense and claiming that the situation never occurred are also defenses that are sometimes possible in these cases. You should find out what defense strategies are possible in your case and move on from there.

Get Defense to Domestic Violence Charges Today

It is critical to obtain legal counsel as early as possible. Although the court will usually grant a temporary protective order, we can fight the permanent protective order and the criminal charges. We have represented people from all walks of life, including many clients from India, Pakistan and other countries whose cultural norms are considered criminal conduct under the Texas domestic violence statutes.

Attorney Larry McDougal Sr. is a former police officer and prosecutor. He understands the law and how domestic abuse cases are investigated and charged. In many cases, he can intervene to get charges reduced if not dismissed altogether or avoid a permanent protective order.

Arrested for domestic violence? Contact our Richmond domestic violence lawyer today to request a free consultation.

Hire the Right Attorney 

What Makes Us Stand Apart?
  • A Respected Father & Son Legal Team
  • Larry McDougal Sr. is President-Elect of The Texas State Bar
  • We're Not Afraid to Go to Trial If Necessary
  • Over 37 Years of Collective Experience

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