Assault Family Violence

Austin Texas Assault Family Violence Lawyer

Texas Family Violence Laws

If you've had a family dispute that ended with law enforcement involved, you will benefit greatly from consulting with an Texas assault family violence attorney right away, as you might face criminal charges that carry unimaginable consequences if convicted. Without a solid assault family violence attorney in your corner, navigating the minefield of legal procedures as a defendant in a domestic violence case is likely to make your bad situation worse – way worse. You're going up against experienced government lawyers and investigators who know the law and the courts, and they all want you to be a convicted felon who pays a dire price.

A Texas assault family violence lawyer who also knows the law and the courts is your best bet to level the playing field. There are a lot of detailed facts that the state must prove to convict you of assault. A skilled attorney on your side can challenge their arguments and evidence to help you clear your name. Despite the serious charges you may be facing, you have legal rights that deserve protection by a team of legal professionals.

At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, we have seen all kinds of assault family violence cases and helped many defendants get the best possible outcomes to their criminal cases. Our experience gives us an understanding of the best legal options in each unique case. We are here for you and will protect your rights.

If you have been, or might be charged, of assault family violence in Austin or elsewhere in Texas, contact the skilled and highly experienced defense attorneys at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, at (512) 991-0576 or contact us online.

Assault Family Violence Information Center

  1. What Is Assault Family Violence in Texas?
  2. Assault Bodily Injury - Class A Misdemeanor
  3. Threat Or Contact Assault - Class C Misdemeanor And Enhancements
  4. Assault Bodily Injury Family Violence - Third-Degree Felony
  5. Aggravated Assault Family Violence - Second-Degree Felony
  6. Collateral Consequences Of Assault Charges
  7. Protective Orders And Family Violence
  8. The Criminal Process – From Arrest To Trial
  9. How A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Defend You In An Assault Family Violence Case
  10. Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Assault Family Violence in Texas?

The law of assault in Texas says that you have to act intentionally, knowingly or recklessly in a way that causes bodily injury to someone to be charged with a crime. Texas law also says that assault includes intentional or knowing violent threats or offensive contact, which can be a slight touch or even a nudge if the other person views them as offensive or provocative.. An aggravated assault involves serious bodily injury or the use of a deadly weapon in the assault.

These assault laws apply to anyone and everyone, from strangers on the street to spouses and family members. Specific laws with harsher penalties apply to assault in the home, called family violence assault. It's not just family members like a husband and wife or a parent and child that can be charged with family violence assault—the charges can come from a fight or violent threats between roommates who aren't even related to each other.

Family violence assault laws describe violent crimes toward:

  • Someone you live with
  • Someone you are related to
  • Someone you are in a dating relationship with
  • Someone you have a child with

The charges can be serious, up to a second-degree felony in the most severe case. A conviction on that kind of domestic violence offense can result in a prison sentence of five years to life.

Simple Assault Family Violence

The Texas law of assault is a general law that applies to everyone, whether relatives living in the same house or strangers to each other. The law says that you commit a crime if you cause injury and do it intentionally or recklessly, knowing the risk of harm. The law also says that you can be charged with a crime if you knowingly make violent threats of immediate harm or make "offensive or provocative" contact with someone. Someone commits an assault when they:

  1. Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another, including the person's spouse;
  2. Intentionally or knowingly threaten another with imminent bodily injury, including the person's spouse; or
  3. Intentionally or knowingly cause physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.

So, there are three main categories of assault under Texas law. The first is often called "bodily injury assault," the second type is "threat assault," and the third type is known as "contact assault."

Assault Causes Bodily Injury Family Violence

As the name explains, the first type of assault has a few points that the prosecutor must prove to convict you of a crime. There must be some sort of injury, although it does not have to be severe, and it doesn't even have to leave a mark like a bruise or a scratch. It can be a slight injury to satisfy the law's 'bodily injury' requirement. The law also requires that there be a specific state of mind in the person charged with the crime, which is defined as doing the action "knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly."

Assault by Threat Texas

In order to be found guilty of a threat assault, the law requires that a prosecutor prove that you used language or actions to make someone feel like they are in real danger of being harmed. A threat assault does not require physical contact for the crime to occur. The mental state the law requires is that you intentionally threatened violent harm, knowing the fear it would cause to the person you directed the threat to.

Assault By Contact Texas

An "offensive or provocative contact" in the definition of the third type of assault can include an elbow or finger used to push someone else. The law does not require that the contact cause a bruise or a visible mark. A contact assault could include spitting on or at someone or even getting close enough to "get in someone's face" from just inches away while bumping them with your chest at a distance that makes that person feel threatened with actual harm.

The mental state that the prosecutor must prove to convict you of the crime, in this case, is that you made contact "knowingly or intentionally." Reckless conduct isn't included in the definition of offensive contact assault, but the prosecutor must prove that you intended the contact to be aggressive and offensive to the person.

Assault Family Violence Texas

The laws of simple bodily injury assault, threat assault, and contact assault apply to everyone, whether they’re strangers or family members. Texas also has some specific laws that apply directly to family relationships. They increase the penalties for violence directed at someone you live with or have been in a relationship with.

Texas law defines "family violence" as:

  1. An act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself;
  2. Abuse by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household; or
  3. Dating violence.

Continuous Violence Against The Family Texas

The state's attorney has the option to charge continuous violence against the family in a case where the facts show that the defendant was involved in two or more family violence assaults in the previous twelve months. The enhanced charge could apply even if the earlier crimes didn't result in an arrest or conviction and even if the prior assaults were against different people. In other words, a prosecutor can use the testimony of family members or others who claim that the defendant committed domestic violence against them in the past year to bump up the charges to a first-degree felony.

The law says that jurors in a continuous violence against the family case do not need to agree unanimously on the particular earlier actions of domestic assault for the enhancement to stick. The state only needs to get an agreement by a majority of jurors that the person on trial has done at least one previous act of family violence in the past year before the assault in the current case.

Legal Terminology

There are quite a few words used in particular ways in the laws of family violence assault. It helps to know how these words are defined in the law because it is up to the state's attorney to prove to the court that you have violated the laws as they are defined. An experienced Texas assault family violence attorney can help you understand the key terms as they relate to the facts of your case.

Family Members

Texas law defines family members to include everyone related to you by blood or marriage and everyone who lives in your home. This includes:

  • Your spouse, current or past
  • Your children
  • Your parents
  • A person you've had a child with
  • A foster child or foster parent
  • A child of your partner, living in your house or not
  • Anyone you have a dating relationship with or have had a past dating relationship with
  • People who live in the same place, even if not related

Even roommates in an apartment or college dorm room and distant relatives who may stay with you in your home are protected by the laws that make family violence a crime.

Dating Violence

Texas laws of family violence assault cover people who have been in a dating or romantic relationship, current or past. There are some facts that a prosecutor must show to prove that a relationship should be considered a dating relationship for purposes of the law of family violence assault, including:

  • How long the relationship went on
  • What type of relationship it was
  • How often the people in the relationship got together and things they did together

If charged with family violence assault based on a dating relationship, these and similar questions are all part of the facts that the prosecutor will use to show that the partners were dating or had been dating in the past.

Sexual Assault in Texas

Rape is unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact involving penetration. The crime of rape applies, whether it is a stranger committing the assault or a family member. Sexual abuse is a type of domestic assault under Texas laws that a prosecutor can use to add enhancement to assault charges and result in severe penalties.

Intentionally Or Knowingly

The legal meaning of the words "intentionally or knowingly" involves a specific state of mind that the prosecutor must prove to get a conviction on an assault charge. This means that a defense attorney who can attack the prosecutor's arguments about what you may have intended or known at the time of the family violence may be able to help you avoid a conviction that's not supported by the facts.

For an assault to be a crime, it must be done knowingly, with intent to threaten or injure someone. It isn't enough that you made some intimidating action or physical contact that frightened or hurt someone–the prosecutor must show that you did it with the intention to cause fear or harm or that you did it recklessly, knowing the risk of bodily harm.

For example, grabbing someone's arm forcefully to stop them from falling onto a hot stove isn't a crime, even if it frightened and hurt the person and left a bruise on their arm. In that example, you didn't do the action to cause pain or injury intentionally. You did it to protect the person from a more severe potential harm.

Recklessly

Criminal charges of bodily injury assault can come from either intentional or reckless conduct toward another person. If you recklessly took some action that caused harm, you are responsible for the outcome. Texas law says that you are reckless when you're "aware of but consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk" of injury to someone. The law explains that reckless risk-taking with someone's safety must involve a "gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise" for it to meet the legal definition.

The prosecutor must convince the jury that the action that caused harm is something a reasonable person would not do. The prosecutor typically asks jurors to use common sense when deciding if the case involves reckless behavior in the assault as charged.

Bodily Injury

The requirement of a bodily injury in Texas law only means that someone was physically contacted and harmed in the incident. The law does not require that the assault left a mark or that medical care was needed to treat the injury.

Serious Bodily Injury

In Texas law, the definition of serious bodily injury requires a substantial effect on the person injured. A serious bodily injury usually requires urgent medical care and time to recover from the effects. An injury that requires urgent medical care and leaves lingering damage like scars can be classified as serious bodily injury for aggravated assault charges. Some examples of serious bodily injury that will support the more substantial charge of aggravated assault include broken bones, severe cuts or burns, or a head injury.

Deadly Weapon

Many people's first thought of a 'deadly weapon' is a gun. It's important to remember, though, that the legal definition of a deadly weapon goes far beyond firearms. Anything that could cause death or severe injury if used violently against someone else can fit the description. A car, a knife, a baseball bat, or even a large, heavy frying pan are examples of items that can be considered deadly weapons, depending on how they are used against another person.

Potential Punishments

Texas assault crimes can be charged as a Class C Misdemeanor, Class B Misdemeanor, Class A Misdemeanor, or even a third-degree or second-degree felony, depending on the facts. A skilled Texas assault family violence attorney is your best partner to help you understand the penalties you could be facing with the charges the state has brought against you.

Assault Bodily Injury - Class A Misdemeanor

Assault causing bodily injury is a Class A Misdemeanor offense, but certain cases, including family violence, can allow the prosecutor to add enhancements to the charges. A conviction of a Class A misdemeanor can result in a year in county jail, up to $4,000 in fines, or a combination of jail and fines.

Threat Or Contact Assault - Class C Misdemeanor And Enhancements

Threat and offensive contact assaults are Class C Misdemeanors. Punishment for a Class C Misdemeanor can include a fine of up to $500 but no potential for jail time. However, if the threat or offensive contact assault is directed against an elderly person, the charge is enhanced to a Class A Misdemeanor.

The same Texas law also has an enhancement for offensive contact assault or threats against anyone who is participating in a sports event, which will increase the charge up to a Class B Misdemeanor. So, if you lose your temper with the ref or opposing coach at your kid's football game, it can put you in a tough place where you may be facing 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines on top of the damage to your reputation in the community.

Assault Bodily Injury Family Violence - Third-Degree Felony

Bodily injury assault involving family violence or a dating relationship plus a history of family violence or a claim that the assault involved physical contact with the alleged victim's throat, neck, or mouth can result in third-degree felony charges. If the case involves both a history of family violence assault convictions and the current assault case involves a restricted breathing assault against the alleged victim, a prosecutor can enhance the charges to a second-degree felony.

An assault on a pregnant person in an attempt to cause the person to abort the pregnancy will be charged as a third-degree felony.

Aggravated Assault Family Violence - Second-Degree Felony

If physical violence caused serious bodily injury, or a deadly weapon was shown or used in the assault, a prosecutor can increase the charge to aggravated domestic assault, a second-degree felony charge. This is the second-most severe felony under Texas law. A conviction can result in a prison term from five years to life with potential fines of up to $10,000.

Protective Orders And Family Violence in Texas

Texas law lets the court provide a protective order to someone who can show that they are at risk of continuing or future assault or family violence. A protective order is often called a PO, and it requires people in an assault case to stay apart to help minimize the risk of further disputes turning violent. The legal restrictions of the protective order are taken very seriously by prosecutors and courts, so any violation of the order can have serious negative consequences for the person the PO covers.

Protective orders are not automatic when there is family violence, though. Someone must apply to the court and prove that there is a risk of further violence if they are not shielded from the person who has done them harm in the past. This means that an applicant for a protective order must prove that you have committed family violence and are likely to commit more violence if allowed to be close to the person who is applying for the PO.

Duties Of Someone Covered By A Protective Order

If a court has ordered a family violence protective order that applies to you, it is critical to take the terms of the order seriously. Any failure to follow the terms of the court's order can involve serious consequences. A failure to obey a PO can involve punishment for contempt of court (disregarding the court's authority), so the judge can order fines of up to $500 or jail time of up to six months, or both. Multiple protective order violations can result in felony charges on top of whatever other criminal charges you may be facing for the family violence assault charges.

The Criminal Process – From Arrest To Trial

If you are involved in a family violence criminal case, you can expect to encounter a few routine procedures and practices. Each case is unique, and your case may not follow exactly the same steps leading from an event that ends in a police report through a trial in court (and possible appeal, in some rare cases).

Police Response

There are many ways that a family dispute can start, but if it ends with police response, it will probably get complicated. If you are arrested, or the police recommend prosecution, it is in your best interests to get a skilled Texas Texas assault family violence attorney before you do anything else. There are a few things to remember throughout the process of dealing with law enforcement officers. No matter how you feel about the situation and the way the police are handling it, you must always cooperate with a police officer's directions. But you should not answer any questions about what happened or give any additional information until you've talked to your attorney.

As you probably know, and the police have a duty to tell you, when you are charged with a crime, you have some very crucial Constitutional rights, including:

  • Silence: you do not have to answer any questions or give the officers any information (beyond essential personal identification); if you say anything, those words may be used against you in your case
  • Attorney consultation: you can hire a skilled defense attorney of your choice (or you can get a court-appointed attorney if you can't afford to pay for one) to give you advice and guidance on your case
  • Attorney presence: you have a right to have your attorney with you any time you are being questioned about the case.

You are guaranteed these rights in the US Constitution, but you must let the police know that you will be asserting these rights by affirmatively and clearly stating that fact.

Police Report And Arrest

Sometimes, officers require the people in a family dispute to separate and stay apart for some time to help defuse the tension and avoid the risk of further physical confrontation. Other times, police arrest one of the people in the fight and recommend criminal charges.

Whether you've been arrested or simply separated from the other party to the dispute, it is time to talk to an experienced Texas family violence assault defense attorney to understand your rights and the best way to get through the process with the fewest complications. With an attorney on your case, you can be sure that you'll be aware of all the evidence, from the police report to witness statements to any physical evidence they may rely on for the charges. An attorney can defend you and protect your rights.

Charges Filed – Court Appearances

If the prosecutor files criminal charges against you, the complications intensify.

Court dockets may list your case as ASSAULT CAUSES BODILY INJ FAMILY VIOLENCE or ASSAULT CAUSED BODILY INJ DATE/FAMILY/HOUSE. These descriptions on the court's docket provide information about the type of case and charges you will be facing.

There will be court appearances for hearings, paperwork to file correctly, evidence to request and review, and legal defenses and arguments to make at the right time. The law will let you go ahead without a lawyer. Still, this is not recommended due to the potential risks to your freedom and reputation. Defending yourself without an attorney is tantamount to flying a plane without flight training.

First Hearing / Arraignment

In the first 48 hours after your arrest, you must be brought in front of a judge for your initial appearance. The judge will tell you the charges you are facing and let you know if the charges are supported by an affidavit—a sworn statement from the person who claims to be the victim of the assault.

The judge will also remind you of your rights to remain silent, give no testimony or evidence in the case, and have an attorney with you throughout the court process. You also have a right to have what is called an "examining trial" – a hearing to go over the reasons for your arrest or the probable cause supporting criminal charges. Your attorney can help you understand how these rights can benefit you and how best to take advantage of them in your case.

At your arraignment, you have the chance to have the charges read out in open court so that you know what you are facing and can enter a plea. Usually, at the initial hearing or arraignment, it is always best to enter a plea of not guilty to give you and your legal team a chance to meaningfully assess your case and consider your defenses before moving forward.

The prosecutor will work with your lawyer to give you access to the case file and the police report and will often start discussions about a plea arrangement that could be acceptable to both sides to resolve the case without a trial. Your lawyer will also ask for copies of key evidence in the case, such as the emergency call recording from the event, videos or photographs of the scene, and any witness statements the prosecutor may have.

Pre-Trial Hearings

There are usually a few court hearings before the trial in a criminal case if the case goes that far. There will be a bail or bond hearing so the judge can consider terms and conditions the prosecutor will agree to release you from custody while the court process continues. Except in cases of capital murder, you have the right to release before trial on bail if you can offer adequate collateral and show that you are not at risk of fleeing or being a possible danger to the community while out of jail before the trial.

Most cases settle sometime before trial when attorneys for the defendant and the prosecutor talk about the facts and law and the disputed issues in the case. There are often discussions and arguments about the facts and evidence, which can result in a Suppression Hearing, where your lawyer makes arguments to keep improperly gathered evidence out of court.

In some cases, the prosecutor will offer a plea arrangement, which could involve lower charges or deferred adjudication, or some other way to resolve the case in a better way for everyone than a full trial in open court. The overwhelming majority of all criminal cases end with plea bargains that both sides can agree to. However, it is important to remember that the judge has the authority to reject the plea agreement. If this happens, you will be allowed to withdraw your plea of guilty or no contest, and the case moves forward as if there wasn't a plea bargain.

Trial

If the state doesn't offer to settle or resolve the case in a way that you can accept, then it goes to a trial. Either a judge alone or with a jury of other citizens will hear the facts of your case and decide on the outcome. Every criminal case in Texas has what is called a bifurcated trial. This means that the trial will go in two phases: first, the guilt or innocence phase and then, if needed, the punishment phase.

In the first part of the trial, the jury (or judge alone, if you've agreed on what's called a bench trial) will hear the evidence and decide if you are guilty of the charges the prosecutor has brought against you. The case is over if the jury or judge finds you not guilty. If the first phase of trial ends with a verdict of guilty on any charge, it moves on to the second part, the punishment phase. In the punishment phase of the trial, the jury or judge will hear more facts about you, your character, and the impact of the events on others, to decide an appropriate sentence.

Appeal

In some very rare cases, there are good reasons to appeal the case to a higher court after trial. Usually, this might happen if the judge made clear errors in the law, or there was some other serious flaw with the trial process. If your case does require an appeal, it will usually take years to resolve and cost a lot of money. Not only does the appeal process take a very long time, but it is also full of complicated legal arguments that must be made at the right time. An appeal is something that will usually require legal counsel.

How A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Defend You In An Assault Family Violence Case

The fact that you face some serious criminal charges does not mean that you are guilty. It's essential to remember that family violence cases are often very complicated, with emotions running high on all sides. There is real potential for error in how the events are documented in official records like a police report. A skilled defense attorney with experience in the law of family violence assaults will understand how to gather all the relevant evidence and assess the truth of the various statements on the record. There are valid defenses to the very serious charges of family violence assault, and an experienced domestic violence lawyer will help you raise these issues at the right time in your case.

Self-Defense And Defense Of Others

If you were responding to physical violence from someone attacking you when the alleged assault happened, you might have a valid self-defense claim. It's possible that the police officer who arrested you didn't understand the entire situation and made an error in taking the word of the other person who was involved in the fight. These are the kinds of facts that capable Texas defense lawyers are very good at exploring in detail before the case gets to trial so that they can challenge the facts presented by the prosecutor.

Factual Disputes

When law officers respond to a domestic violence call, they have to defuse the situation and protect all family members from harm. In many cases, responding officers will take one person's word over another about what happened. While the police report may say who the officers believed was more at fault, a good defense lawyer will investigate independently and learn the truth about what went on in the dispute. An experienced Texas family violence defense attorney can sort out the claims and statements and present a complete picture of the case to the state's attorneys and, if necessary, to the court.

False Accusations

Getting falsely accused is common in domestic violence cases. For various reasons ranging from jealousy to revenge to anger, someone may make false claims of family violence that have genuine potential to upend your life. A skilled legal defense team has experience digging through the evidence, including police reports, medical records, family history, and more, to get to the truth. Usually, a person who is not being fully honest in saying what happened will have inconsistencies or inaccuracies in their story, which an experienced Texas assault family violence attorney can see through to get to the truth.

Collateral Consequences Of Assault Charges in Texas

Family violence can become a public spectacle, leading to talk among neighbors or friends about who did what and who may have been at fault. While you can't stop people from gossiping among themselves, you can do your best to keep your name and reputation from being wrongfully associated with allegations or charges of family violence. A skilled defense attorney who has seen many cases is your best chance to clear your name and resolve the matter.

Even if you get deferred adjudication to keep the worst of the criminal punishments away, a family violence charge cannot be cleared or expunged from your record. The effects of the charges will follow you long after you have served a sentence and paid the fines. The impact of a criminal record of this kind can keep you from legally owning guns, and it will harm your ability to find a place to live, get a job, qualify for a loan, and spend time with your kids.

Child Custody

If you have a family violence assault conviction on your record, it will make it much more challenging to convince a family law judge to allow you to have custody of your children in a custody dispute. You may be limited in how you can visit your kids with supervised visits. There could be other conditions imposed on your right to spend time with your children.

Gun Ownership

A conviction of a domestic violence crime will cost you the right to own firearms or ammunition. Any felony conviction will end your gun ownership rights, but even a misdemeanor family violence conviction will have the same effect. And with no chance to clear a family violence charge from your record once you're convicted of the crime, the gun ban may last for your lifetime.

Employment

The arrest, charges, and court case can cost you your current job and will likely add challenges to finding employment in your future. Employers search public records of criminal convictions in the hiring process, and a red flag like a family violence crime on your record can cut you off before you even get a chance to present yourself for the job.

Community

As a public matter, a domestic violence criminal case might be in the news in your area, which will have a strong negative effect on your relationships around town. Even if it isn't covered in the media, the charges and conviction will be in the public records for anyone who searches criminal records under your name. A family violence assault charge also likely impacts your activities with local clubs or social organizations.

Education, Professional Licensing

You may lose out on opportunities for scholarships or placement in competitive educational or training programs with a domestic violence crime on your record. Many professional licenses can be impacted by those crimes, from a contractor's license to a real estate license. If you have to be certified or licensed for your work, you may deal with new challenges after your conviction for family violence assault. It's crucial that you talk to an attorney who can help you get through the situation in the best way possible.

Loans & Business Reputation

Any criminal conviction on your record is accessible to public view, and banks and other lenders will undoubtedly look up your criminal record if you are looking for a personal or business loan. If you are a business owner, your relationship in the industry may suffer when others in your profession learn of your criminal record for family violence.

Housing Opportunities

Most landlords check an applicant's criminal background records before agreeing to rent a place to a new tenant. You may lose out on getting the apartment or condo you'd like to live in if you can't get through the background check with a clean record.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our criminal defense attorneys at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC have seen a lot of cases of assault and family violence under Texas law and, naturally, we have fielded a lot of questions that come up when you are facing criminal charges. Below, we share our answers to some of the most common questions we’ve received about domestic violence accusations and defense strategies.

Can a Woman Be Charged with Assault Family Violence?

Yes, Texas law is neutral about who is assaulting and who is being assaulted, so charges can certainly be brought against a woman. In truth, it is not rare to have domestic violence caused by a wife or girlfriend in the relationship. Statistics show that as many as one in every nine men in the US have been victims of family violence caused by a partner in a relationship.

Why Was I Charged with Assault Family Violence When I Didn't Hit Anyone and Was Just Trying to Defend Myself in an Argument That Suddenly Turned Violent?

Sometimes, the wrong person is arrested or accused of assault in the wake of a turbulent situation. Police officers who respond to a domestic violence situation sometimes take one person's word over another in a case of family violence assault. In the chaos and confusion of the police intervention in a family fight, what happened can often be unclear. Still, the police must resolve the situation and protect all the family members.

In many cases, the police may have a policy that requires them to separate family members after a physical altercation, so they may take someone into custody or order one person to leave the house to alleviate the situation. If you are charged, a skilled defense attorney can get to the bottom of the facts with a thorough investigation and can help you present your best defense.

What Is an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution?

An affidavit of non-prosecution (ANP) is a sworn statement from a complaining witness in a criminal case that explains why the witness requests that the state dismiss the charges against the defendant. There are many different reasons why a complaining witness will write an ANP, and they can be very helpful to someone who's been charged with assault family violence in some instances.

It's important to note, though, that a prosecutor is not required by law to accept an ANP as binding—in other words, there is no law that the state must drop the case when the complaining witness asks them to. On the other hand, the state's attorney has a more difficult job proving a case where the witness has asked for the charges to be dropped. When the complaining witness explains the reasons for wanting the case dismissed, including a valid defense that applies to the defendant in this case or a mistake of fact in the police report that caused confusion, the prosecutor is more likely to look at an ANP as a good reason to withdraw the charges.

My Partner Wants to Drop the Family Violence Assault Charges Against Me. Can We Just Let It Go?

The government brings a criminal case, and it is up to the state's attorney to decide how to prosecute the charges. The prosecutor chooses how to proceed in each case based on what they think is best for the community and what upholds the laws. After the police have filed their incident report, it is up to the prosecutor to decide how to proceed. A Texas prosecutor will consider a request to dismiss the case but does not have any duty to respect that request. It can complicate the case for the prosecutor if the accuser does not want to testify or participate in the criminal case at all. Still, if needed, the government can subpoena the witness to testify under oath.

My Partner Got a Protective Order Against Me, But We've Worked It Out. Can We Just Ignore the PO?

Only the court can change the terms of a protective order or release you from its restrictions. The person who applied for the order has no legal authority to change it in any way. You can end up back in court and in jail if you don't take a protective order seriously. An experienced Texas assault family violence attorney can help you make your case in court to change the PO, but no one other than the judge can change the legal terms of the order.

Will I Have to Give Up My Firearms?

Yes, if you are named in a Protective Order the law prohibits possession or control of any firearms and ammunition. If you are subject to a Family Violence Protective Order, you may not apply for a License to Carry (LTC), and if you have already have one it will be suspended.

If convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor family violence offense, you will be prohibited from possessing a firearm for five years from your release date from confinement and from community supervision.

If a temporary Protective Order has been issued against you, the magistrate may choose to forbid firearm possession.

What Happens If I Accidentally Violate the Protective Order?

Whether intentional or not, violating a protective order is a Class A Misdemeanor that could lead to arrest and up to $4,000 in fines. In some cases, you may be put in jail for up to a year. In other cases, you may be fined and incarcerated. Charges and sentencing will be elevated to a third-degree felony if you have previous convictions, the penalties for which could include between 2-10 years in prison.

My Roommate and I Agreed to Have a Fair Fistfight; Did We Break Any Laws?

Texas law allows two adults to agree to mutual combat, so an arranged fistfight itself probably doesn't break the law. However, there are some restrictions about how and where you fight. For example, you can't stage it in a public park where it might alarm or endanger others. Also, know that if the fight goes too far and someone ends up with a serious bodily injury, or even if the heat of the argument causes one of the fighters to scream genuine death threats at the other, Texas prosecutors could bring assault charges.

An Austin Domestic Violence Attorney Can Help You Take Charge Of Your Situation

If you face charges of family violence assault in Austin or elsewhere in Texas, you need a strong defense. A defense attorney will thoroughly investigate the facts and details of your case to prepare to challenge the prosecutor's case. An experienced assault-family violence defense attorney in Texas is trained to spot potential procedural flaws in the arrest or police investigation. They can help your defense and gather all the critical evidence to get the whole picture of what happened. An experienced defense attorney will talk straight with the government's attorneys and present your defenses forcefully. They will also represent you in court and all your dealings with the state's attorneys. And your communications with your attorney are confidential throughout your attorney client relationship.

Criminal Defense Attorneys You Can Trust To Get It Right

For years, the legal team at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC has meaningfully defended many Texans in assault and family violence defense cases. We know the best approach for your legal matter. Our powerhouse criminal defense team will take the time to carefully answer your questions about the law and your case specifics, keep you updated on case developments, and most importantly, work tirelessly to get you the best outcome to your situation. There is no time to delay when your freedom, legal rights, and reputation are all being challenged.

Reach out to Cofer & Connelly, PLLC by calling (512) 991-0576 or contact us online to get started toward resolving your case.

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Our Impact

  • Super Lawyer 2022
  • 2022 Best DUI Lawyers in Austin
  • Texas Bar Foundation
  • Avvo Clients' Choice Award 2018- Rick Cofer
  • Super Lawyers
  • Attorney and Practice Magazine's Top 10 Attorney-2019
  • Texas Bar College
  • National College for DUI Defense- General Member
  • Austin Bar Association
  • CATLA
  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100
  • Top One Percent, National Association of Distinguished Counsel
  • FindLaw
  • DWI Scholar, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (2021)
  • Elite Lawyer Criminal Defense
  • Best of Austin Winner
  • Lead Counsel 2021
  • Expertise 2021
  • Avvo Clients' Choice 2021
  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100
  • Avvo Clients' Choice Award 2022
  • AV Preeminent
  • Top Attorneys 2022 - Austin Monthly
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