Domestic Violence

Killeen Domestic Assault and Violence Defense Lawyers

Legal help when you’re facing family violence charges in Harker Heights, Waco, Copperas Cove and across Central Texas

Family and domestic violence allegations are serious. A conviction can result in jail time, loss of right to bear arms and a criminal record. Many people arrested for domestic violence offenses are unsure about the charges against them, and may not even understand why they were arrested in the first place. Domestic violence and assault involves a wide variety of offenses, including stalking and making threats. A strong defense starts with understanding the charges against you with the help of a smart attorney.

The Killeen criminal defense attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm have decades of combined experience representing individuals charged with domestic assault and violence charges. We provide aggressive defense, helping you avoid the penalties and consequences that can come with a criminal conviction.

Family violence in Texas

The Texas Judicial System reports that in 2011 (the most recent data available), there were 198,366 incidents of domestic violence, which involved 198,504 victims and 194,317 offenders. However, it’s important to remember that just because you or a loved one is accused of domestic violence, it doesn’t mean you’re guilty. Wrongful accusations, insufficient evidence, self-defense – a variety of defenses can help you avoid a criminal record.

Every family violence case is different, and every dynamic is unique. You may find yourself facing charges due to a momentary loss of control during a stressful situation. Perhaps there are anger management or other psychological issues that need addressing outside of the criminal justice system. Or, in some cases, our clients are just falsely accused. And we’ll find out why.

What defines domestic assault?

Here in Texas, domestic violence is commonly called domestic assault, or assault with family violence. If you’re charged with domestic assault, prosecutors must prove that you intentionally committed or threatened violence. If the victim has suffered serious injury, the charges can be elevated to aggravated domestic assault.

Domestic assault includes the following:

  • Intentionally causing physical harm
  • Threatening to cause physical harm
  • Intentionally making physical contact with the knowledge the other person will find it offensive or threatening

Aggravated domestic assault includes:

  • Intentionally causing serious bodily injury
  • Using a deadly weapon while committing assault on another person

If you’re accused of domestic assault, the victim may also request a restraining order, also called a protective order, requiring you to stay a certain distance away from your family member (including verbal contact). This can affect everything from matters of child custody to your entire reputation. If this happens to you, get in touch with our family violence defense attorneys immediately.

What types of relationships are included under domestic violence?

Chapter 71 of the Texas Family Code lists the following types of relationships under family violence, which differentiates them from other assault charges and penalties.

  • Dating. Dating violence can occur with two people in a dating relationship or were previously in a dating relationship.
  • Family member. Family members are any people related by blood, marriage, former spouses, parents of the same child, foster parents or step-parents.
  • Household member. Members of the same household are anyone who resides or formerly resided in the same home or residence. This includes people who aren’t related, like housemates and roommates.

Typically, the penalties and collateral consequences of a domestic violence conviction are more severe than other assault offenses. The attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm can explain the charges against you and fight to protect your constitutional rights.

What are the penalties for family violence charges in Texas?

The penalties for conviction of a family or domestic violence charge vary depending on the circumstances of the alleged offense. Factors can include the age of the victim, whether or not a weapon was used, whether the victim suffered injury and if you have any previous criminal history. Our attorneys work to have the charges against you reduced or dropped.

You may face either misdemeanor or felony charges. A conviction can result in some of the following penalties:

  • Class C misdemeanor domestic assault charges may be applied if the victim suffered no physical injury or lasting harm. These misdemeanors are punishable by a $500 fine, but can leave you with a criminal record and other consequences.
  • Class A misdemeanor domestic violence charges are when the victim suffers serious physical injury. These can result in up to a year in jail and fines up to $4,000.
  • Third-degree felony domestic assault can be charged if you have previous domestic violence convictions or if strangulation and choking is involved in the assault. Conviction can result in two to 10 years in prison.

Losing the right to carry a firearm

One of the most serious consequences of a family violence conviction in Texas is losing the right to carry a firearm. Any conviction of domestic or family violence – even a Class C misdemeanor – will prohibit you from your right to own a gun. If you work in the military or law enforcement, you can face the very real prospect of losing your job and your entire career. A domestic assault conviction will stay on your criminal record forever, affecting your reputation and future long after you’ve satisfied the terms of the court.

We work for your acquittal or lesser charges so you don’t have to lose your entire career. We’ll help protect your reputation and your freedom.

What is the Texas “no-drop” policy?

Many counties in Texas have a zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence and assault. If you’ve been accused with domestic assault and the victim later decides they want to drop the charges, typically prosecutors won’t allow it. This is because, in family violence cases, the victim isn’t the one who prosecutes – the state does. The state decides whether or not the case will move forward. However, our attorneys provide tough defense and negotiate with prosecution on your behalf.

What is Continuous Violence Against the Family?

You can be charged with an offense known as Continuous Violence Against the Family under Texas statute if you commit two misdemeanor-level domestic assaults within 12 months. These multiple assaults can be charged as a third-degree felony instead.

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Killeen domestic violence and assault defense

The consequences of a family or domestic violence accusation can have a ripple effect into every aspect of your life. The defense attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm safeguard your constitutional rights during the entire process, fighting the allegations against you and protecting your reputation and freedom. Let us help. Contact us today at 254-680-4655 or by filling out our contact form. We have offices in Killeen, Copperas Cove, and Waco, and handle in-custody visits for clients who cannot come to us.