In Texas, and in Bexar County in particular, arrests involving assaults and family violence are common. Many of the cases do not involve what most people think of as domestic violence. Instead, the cases can involve mutual fights between roommates, a situation where an abuse victim fights back for the first time, or just a simple misunderstanding with the police, where everyone tells the police nothing happened, but the officers come to a different conclusion. And some do involve assaults that occur, but the defendant may be not guilty for a variety of reasons. Or the defendant is sympathetic because of a problem with mental illness or provocation. Whatever the story is, if the people involved have a relationship that is defined as family, it’s tagged as a family violence case.
What kinds of relationships get tagged family violence?
When thinking about what a domestic violence case looks like, most people think husband-wife relationships. However, the Texas statutes define it much more broadly. Family includes dating relationships, former dating relationships, siblings, parents, children, and people who live together. It could also include the relatives of the complainant, like the complainant’s parents. It’s a very broad category that catches a lot of folks in the web of family violence.
What happens when a person gets arrested?
When the police, especially in Bexar County, come out to a location where family violence has been alleged, you can almost be guaranteed someone is going to jail. Once a person is arrested, the case is sent to the district attorney’s office and it gets filed by the prosecutors. Then it gets assigned to a court. The prosecutors in that court have been trained to prosecute cases, even if the complainant does not want to proceed. The prosecution likes cases where they have a cooperative complainant, but even if the complainant signs an affidavit of non-prosecution, the case does not go away. If a prosecutor reads over the file, believes an assault occurred, and has the evidence to proceed without the complainant, the case could still proceed to trial.
What evidence does the prosecutor look for?
A prosecutor loves to have a complainant willing to testify. Without that, the prosecutor has a few options. They can subpoena the complainant and force them to testify against their will. If there is a 911 call that proves the case and photos, prosecutors will often proceed just on those two items. Prosecutors might even get creative and try to prove identity, even if not provided in the 911 call, through family members or friends familiar with the relationship.
I have been arrested for a family violence case, what can I do?
It’s very important not to talk about the facts of your case with anyone but your lawyer. Hiring a lawyer familiar with family violence cases and the courts that handle those cases in the county where you are located is vital. Family violence cases should always be fought. The repercussions of family violence cases are severe. Most importantly, patience is necessary for a positive outcome.
What are those repercussions?
If you want to plea, there are two possible outcomes in a family violence case, deferred adjudication or conviction. The differences between the two in family violence cases are minimal. Yes, in a deferred adjudication, a person avoids a conviction if they are able to successfully complete it. But a deferred can be used to enhance future family violence cases, just like a conviction. A deferred in a family violence case can never be non-disclosed, which is a version of sealing (just like a conviction). Both a deferred and a conviction have consequences when it comes to gun ownership in any case involving a family relationship. And the stigma attached to the case is significant. A deferred may end in a dismissal, but on a criminal history, the person who is viewing the history sees that some community supervision was served in the case and then it was dismissed. In my experience, if an employer would not hire a person because of a family violence conviction, a deferred on a family violence case would also by a disqualifier.
Before pleading, contact us to discuss your options. We will fight hard for the best resolution for your case and your future.