Allegations of domestic abuse are often treated differently from other criminal offenses, with negative consequences flowing immediately from an arrest before any allegations have ever been proven. The criminal defense attorneys at McLemore, Reddell & Story, P.L.L.C. work hard to make sure their clients are not unfairly targeted for prosecution and that they receive their day in court in a speedy manner.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence, or domestic abuse, is defined under Sec. 71.004 of the Texas Family Code. This law defines family violence as abuse, assault or threat of an assault against a family member or household member. A household member can include someone who used to live in the household but doesn’t any more, such as a former live-in boyfriend or girlfriend. In fact, the law specifically includes assaults or threats against a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend, which is known as dating violence under the law.
Emergency Protective Orders
As a criminal matter, family violence is treated under Chapter 5 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. An alleged victim of family violence can call the police and have the alleged perpetrator arrested, and can apply to the court for a protective order. A protective order is a court order; it can be enforced through contempt proceedings, and violation of a protective order may even be charged as a felony.
A protective order is a powerful tool. The terms of a protective order differ depending upon the case. It can be used to order you out of your own home, prohibit you from having any contact with certain members of your family, and even establish temporary child custody orders and keep you away from your kids.
Your Rights Regarding a Charge of Domestic Violence
The elements of domestic violence are similar to the elements of the crime of assault, except that in the case of domestic violence, the alleged perpetrator and victim are family members or household members. However, a major difference between a criminal assault charge and a family violence proceeding is that a protective order can be based on very little evidence as compared to the probable cause required to arrest someone under criminal law. There are many ways in which such charges may be unfairly leveled against you, and before you know it, your life has been turned upside-down. A charge of domestic violence may be asserted in any of the following situations.
- by a spouse to gain an advantage in a divorce or custody battle
- by a jealous girlfriend/boyfriend or vindictive ex wanting to get back at you
- when your actions or language were misinterpreted by the other person
- if you said things in the heat of the moment which you didn’t really mean
Fortunately, you have a right to a hearing to challenge the imposition of a protective order. Given the serious nature of domestic violence and the impact it can have on your life, the matter of defending yourself in a family violence proceeding should be taken very seriously. In Houston, contact McLemore, Reddell & Story, P.L.L.C. for immediate assistance.