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Texas Domestic Assault Charges and the Defenses Available

Domestic assault, also known as family violence, is a serious offense in Texas and one that is given high priority among prosecutors. The priority given to victims’ rights and protections can put a person accused of domestic violence at a significant disadvantage. Nevertheless, there are often effective defenses that can be raised. 

Generally, domestic assault occurs when someone intentionally, knowingly or recklessly:

  • Causes bodily injury to a family member, current or former spouse, dating partner, roommate, or someone else in the same household.
  • Threatens another person with imminent bodily harm.
  • Makes physical contact that is offensive or provocative.

The degree of the charge depends on the severity of the act and whether the defendant has prior convictions. It can range from a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000, to a second-degree felony, carrying a prison sentence of two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

If you’re facing domestic assault charges in Texas, a qualified attorney can assess the specifics of your case and advise you on the best course of action. Potential defenses that can be raised are:

  • Lack of intent — In some cases, the prosecution might need to prove your intent to act intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. A strong defense could involve establishing that your actions were accidental or lacked malicious intent. This might involve presenting evidence like video footage, witness testimonies or medical records supporting an accidental injury.
  • Self-defense — Texas allows the use of reasonable force to protect yourself against imminent unlawful force. If you can demonstrate that the alleged victim initiated the violence and your response was proportionate to the threat, it could support a self-defense claim. This includes presenting evidence of injuries sustained as a result of the initial attack.
  • Defense of others — Similar to self-defense, you might be able to justify your actions if you used force to protect a third party from unlawful force. This defense is applicable if the alleged victim initiated violence against someone else and you intervened to stop them. Witness testimonies or video recordings supporting the third party’s perspective could strengthen this defense.
  • Absence of criminal conduct — In some cases, the alleged victim might have fabricated or exaggerated the events. You can challenge the accusation by showcasing inconsistencies in their statements, providing alibi evidence placing you elsewhere during the incident, or presenting evidence that contradicts their version of events.
  • Police misconduct — Even in cases where charges have merit, police conduct can be scrutinized. If the responding officers demonstrated bias towards the alleged victim, ignoring your perspective or potentially manipulating the narrative, their report might be deemed unreliable, potentially impacting the prosecution’s case.

Domestic assault charges can have a significant impact on your life, including your employment, parental rights and housing situation. You should contact an experienced domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and your legal options.

Tylden Shaeffer, Attorney at Law, P.C. in San Antonio, Texas provides effective counsel in defense against domestic assault charges. To schedule a free consultation, call (210) 227-1500 or contact me online.

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