People charged with domestic violence crimes in Texas face harsh penalties, including significant prison time and heavy fines. In addition, the consequent injury to their reputation can make them pariahs in social and professional circles, effectively ruining their life.
Acts of domestic violence (“assault”) are prohibited by the Texas penal code. The crime is defined as any physical contact that causes a protected individual to suffer bodily harm or injury. Protected individuals include relatives by blood or marriage, current and former romantic partners and unrelated co-residents of a dwelling. The code also makes it a crime to threaten a domestic partner with bodily injury or physically touch a domestic partner in a threatening manner.
Domestic violence cases often include evidence of physical harm, but the charges may nevertheless be defensible. This includes exposing deficiencies in the government’s case and raising facts and circumstances that may negate the crime. These are common defenses:
- Lack of intent — Depending upon the specific crime charged, the defendant must have acted “intentionally,” “knowingly” or “recklessly.” The law defines each of these types of intent. Though it is the prosecutor’s burden to show the defendant’s conduct meets the legal standard, a strong defense can disprove any malice or other bad motive.
- Self–defense — In some cases, it is the accuser who initiated the violence and the accused was only responding to prevent suffering harm. A person can use reasonable force to stop an attacker without being guilty of a crime. However, self-defense is an “affirmative defense,” which means it must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence.
- Defense of others — This is an affirmative defense that may be asserted when the accuser initiates violence by attacking a third party in a domestic setting. As with self-defense, the accused can legally step in to prevent harm to that third party. For example, a parent can use reasonable force against the other parent who physically attacks their child.
- Absence of a crime — In many cases, the accuser has misstated the facts. Some people grossly exaggerate the circumstances to suggest a crime where none occurred. In other cases, the accuser has completely made up a story and the alleged incident never took place.
Whether challenging the facts recounted by the accuser or asserting an affirmative defense, countering domestic violence charges takes careful and thorough preparation. The legal system tends to err on the side of protecting alleged victims. Even if the only evidence is the victim’s testimony, the accused should mount the strongest defense possible. Anyone accused of domestic violence should seek the advice and counsel of an experienced defense lawyer.
Kevin L. Collins, P.C. in San Antonio is one of the most respected criminal defense law firms in south-central Texas. If you have been charged with a domestic violence crime, contact us online or call 210-598-8629 right away for an initial consultation.