Family violence in Houston is a very serious matter that can result in severe consequences to alleged offenders. By the end of September, the Houston Police Department has received almost 24,000 reports of domestic violence so far in 2019. Since taking office in 2017, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has increased the number of family violence cases that prosecutors file from about 9,000 a year to almost 12,000 cases a year—a 33 percent increase in charges against a family member or someone in a dating relationship!
Obviously, many accusations of family violence or domestic violence are not true. Alleged victims often will falsely accuse someone they are in a dating relationship with or a family member of domestic violence. These serious and false allegations frequently arise from anger, jealousy, divorce or child custody disputes.
If you have been accused of a domestic or family violence crime, it is important to consult an experienced and reputable criminal defense attorney in Houston to defend you.
Houston Domestic Violence Lawyer
If you have been accused of family violence or domestic violence in the Greater Houston area, including Katy, Cypress, Jersey Village, Tomball, Spring, Humble, Pasadena, and many other nearby communities, contact James G. Sullivan and Associates.
Attorney James G. Sullivan will fight the allegations against you and strive to help you avoid serious consequences and punishments to your alleged offense. Call James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free consultation at (281) 546-6428 about your family violence charges.
Definitions of Domestic Violence in Harris County
Often, domestic violence or family violence cases involve legal terms that are unfamiliar to most people. These terms are defined in Chapter 71 of the Texas Family Code and are listed below.
- Family Violence is often more commonly referred to as domestic violence, domestic abuse or dating violence, and is defined as an intentional act or threat by one family member against another that causes physical harm, bodily injury, assault or sexual assault.
- Dating Violence is defined as an intentional act or threat by a person in a dating relationship against a person they are currently in a dating relationship with or were previously in a dating relationship with that causes physical or bodily harm.
- Family Member is anyone who is related by blood, related by marriage, a former spouse, parent of the same child, step-parent or foster parent.
- Household Member is anyone who resides or has previously resided in the same home, including individuals who are not in the same family such as roommates.
- Protective Order is more commonly referred to as a restraining order, protection against family violence, or protection order, and is a court order issued by the judge if the judge determines family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again.
- Protective Order Hearing is a hearing in which the judge determines whether or not family violence has occurred and is likely to occur in the future after both sides present evidence and any witnesses. If the judge determines family violence has occurred, the judge will issue a protective order
Domestic Violence Offenses in Houston
Some of the most commonly charged family violence offenses in Harris County can include, but are not limited to, the following—
According to Texas Penal Code § 22.01, an individual can be charged with domestic assault if they intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury; threaten; or, physically contact a family member, household member or person they are in a dating relationship with in a manner in which the other person would regard as offensive or provocative.
As defined in Texas Penal Code § 22.02, an individual can be charged with aggravated domestic assault if they commit assault with a deadly weapon against a family member or cause serious bodily injury to a family member, household member or person they are in a dating relationship with.
As defined in Texas Penal Code § 25.07, a violation of a protective order is cause by an individual knowingly or intentionally violating the terms of a protective order against them. This can include communicating with the family member who requested the protective order or going to their home or place of employment.
As defined by Texas Penal Code § 42.072, stalking is defined as repeatedly and knowingly engaging in conduct targeted at a specific person—
- They will perceive as threatening,
- that causes them to be afraid they will be seriously harmed, and
- that would cause a reasonable person to fear injury or death to herself or her family members.
This offense can also include cyberstalking, which is defined as communicating with another person through e-mail or other electronic means strictly to harass that person.
According to Texas Penal Code § 22.04, an individual can be charged with injury to a child (child abuse) or injury to the elderly if they intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence cause any type of bodily injury to a child or elderly adult.
Houston Punishment for Domestic Violence
Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code defines the general penalties to many family violence offenses in Houston. However, these penalties can vary, depending on whether the victim was elderly, disabled or a child, whether a weapon was used during the commission of the offense, the degree of domestic violence, whether bodily injury or death resulted from the offense, and whether the alleged offender has any previous criminal history.
- An individual charged with a Class C misdemeanor domestic assault offense can result in a fine up to $500 (although we do not handle Class C misdemeanor offenses).
- An individual convicted of a Class A misdemeanor domestic assault offense can receive a jail sentence up to one year and/or a fine up to $4,000.
- An individual charged with a Class A misdemeanor violation of a protection order can receive a jail sentence up to one year and/or a fine up to $4,000.
- A conviction for a felony of the third degree domestic assault, violation of a protective order, stalking, or child abuse offense can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years and/or a fine not more than $10,000.
- An individual charged with felony of the second degree domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, stalking or child abuse offense can receive a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- An individual convicted of a first degree aggravated domestic assault or child abuse offense can receive a prison term from five to 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine not more than $10,000.
Additionally, anyone who commits Continuous Violence Against a Family or household member can be convicted of a third degree felony offense, according to Texas Penal Code § 25.11. Continuous violence is defined as committing a family violence offense two or more times within a 12 month period.
James G. Sullivan and Associates | Houston Family Violence Attorney
Contact James G. Sullivan and Associates today at (281) 546-6428 for a free consultation about your family violence charges throughout Harris County in Texas. James Sullivan is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston who will make every effort to help you achieve the best outcome for your case.