Conflicts within relationships can result in the cops being called and criminal charges being filed that can turn lives and families upside down. That's especially true with any criminal conviction for domestic violence.
It's important to get an experienced criminal defense attorney on the case as soon as possible. A great deal of evidence depends on people's recollection of events.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence, or family violence, occurs between people who are in a relationship, whether that is a spouse or ex-spouse, a boyfriend/girlfriend or ex, parents and children, foster family members, adopted family members, or roommates.
The existence of a close relationship is what puts these conflicts into in a special category.
There are five criminal charges that cover different forms of family violence:
- Domestic assault (Penal Code § 22.01)
- Aggravated domestic assault (Penal Code § 22.02)
- Continuous violence against the family (Penal Code § 25.11)
- Child abuse (Family Code § 261.001 and various penal codes)
- Stalking (Penal Code § 42.072)
Domestic assault charges are brought when someone complains of physical contact that does, or could, cause harm: hitting, slapping, kicking, shoving, grabbing, restraining, choking. Verbal threats of violence, or physical intimidation, or intimidation with a weapon also fall under this category.
Domestic assault charges can also be brought for unwanted physical contact that the person making contact should have known would be offensive or provocative to the other party.
Aggravated domestic assault is the likely criminal charge when a victim has suffered serious bodily injury, or a weapon was used, or a weapon accompanied threats. A “serious” bodily injury is a head injury, a crippling injury, loss of use of a limb or organ, or disfigurement.
Continuous violence will be charged if the accuser says that the perpetrator has been involved in two or more domestic assaults within 12 months. It doesn't have to be the same person who was assaulted and it doesn't matter if the person wasn't actually convicted but was only arrested.
Child abuse or child neglect charges could be brought against a person for intentionally, recklessly, or negligently causing a bodily injury or mental or emotional injury “that results in an observable and material impairment in the child's growth, development, or psychological functioning.” It also includes child sexual abuse.
Stalking is not a one-time event, but a series of actions that would cause a reasonable person to feel “harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed or offended.” A reasonable person might fear injury or death for themselves or a family member or a person they are dating or think that a crime is going be committed against their property.
Unlike continuous violence, where there could be a number of victims, stalking targets the same victim (or their property). The threats must be specific, not general.
Stalking doesn't have to be done in person. It could be threatening text messages or phone calls or emails. The messages could even be sent by someone else acting on behalf of the stalker.
Fighting Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence charges can have life-long consequences for the person who is convicted, as well as the family. It's important to fight back against false charges and half-truths. If poor choices were made by one or both parties, remember, you still deserve a strong defense. That is your right.
The next blog post discusses penalties and defense strategies to fight domestic violence charges. To understand the charges against you and defense options tailored to your specific case, contact an experienced McKinney criminal defense attorney, Matthew Maddox, at 972-546-2496.