While the crime of domestic assault is commonly a misdemeanor offense in Texas, the Texas Legislature added the crime of continuous violence against the family to the Texas Penal Code in 2009. Under the new law, prosecutors can file felony charges against alleged offenders accused of committing two or more domestic assaults within a calendar year.
While most criminal charges require prosecutors to get jurors to reach a unanimous verdict to convict an alleged offender, jurors do not have to unanimously agree on the specific conduct in which the alleged offender engaged that constituted domestic assault. A jury instead only needs to unanimously agree that an alleged offender engaged in conduct that constituted domestic assault two or more times within 12 months.
Denton Continuous Violence Against the Family Lawyer
Were you or your loved one arrested for continuous violence against the family in the Denton area? Do not try to explain yourself to police, as you might inadvertently say something that makes you easier to prosecute.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can deal with authorities on your behalf and ensure your rights are protected. We can review your case as soon as you call (940) 222-8004 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.
Continuous Violence Against the Family Charges in Texas
Texas Penal Code § 25.11(a) establishes that a person commits the offense of continuous violence against the family if they, during a period that is 12 months or less in duration, engage in conduct two or more times that constitutes an assault offense against another person or persons whose relationship to or association with the defendant is described by Texas Family Code § 71.0021(b), Texas Family Code § 71.003, or Texas Family Code § 71.005.
Those three relationships are defined as follows:
- Dating Relationship, Texas Family Code § 71.0021 — A relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature, with the existence of such a relationship being determined based on consideration of the length of the relationship, the nature of the relationship, and the frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
- Family, Texas Family Code § 71.003 — Individuals related by consanguinity (one is a descendant of the other or they share a common ancestor) or affinity (they are married to each other or the spouse of one of the individuals is related by consanguinity to the other individual), individuals who are former spouses of each other, individuals who are the parents of the same child, without regard to marriage, and a foster child and foster parent, without regard to whether those individuals reside together.
- Household, Texas Family Code § 25.11 — A unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, without regard to whether they are related to each other.
Texas Penal Code § 25.11(b) provides that members of the jury are not required to agree unanimously on the specific conduct in which the defendant engaged that constituted an offense under Texas Penal Code § 22.01(a)(1) against the person or persons described by Texas Penal Code § 25.11(a) or the exact date when that conduct occurred. The jury must agree unanimously that the defendant, during a period that is 12 months or less in duration, two or more times engaged in conduct that constituted an offense under Texas Penal Code § 22.01(a)(1) against the person or persons described by Texas Penal Code § 22.01(a).
Continuous Violence Against the Family Penalties in Denton
Continuous violence against the family is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Texas Penal Code § 25.11(c) states that an alleged offender cannot be convicted in the same criminal action of another offense the victim of which is an alleged victim of the offense under Texas Penal Code § 25.11(a) and an element of which is any conduct that is alleged as an element of the offense under Texas Penal Code § 25.11(a) unless the other offense:
- is charged in the alternative;
- occurred outside the period in which the offense alleged under Texas Penal Code § 25.11(a) was committed; or
- is considered by the trier of fact to be a lesser included offense of the offense alleged under Texas Penal Code § 25.11(a).
Continuous Violence Against the Family Defenses in Denton
When police respond to domestic violence or family violence calls, one person usually ends up being arrested. This is true even when there is not necessarily evidence to support the criminal charges.
When continuous violence against the family charges is taken to trial, a prosecutor may have to rely on the memories of arresting officers when they do not have other kinds of physical evidence needed to support their arguments. Some crimes may be based on false or exaggerated allegations that a criminal defense lawyer can call attention to as flawed during the trial.
Denton Continuous Violence Against the Family Resources
Texas Family Violence Benchbook — View the Texas Family Violence Benchbook on the official website for the Texas Courts. You can learn more about protective orders, the protective order registry, and child custody and support provisions. There is also information about family violence surrounding immigrant families.
Ellison v. State, 425 S.W.3d 637 (Tex.App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2014) — Philip Wade Ellison was sentenced to five years for each offense, to run concurrently, after being convicted of continuous violence against the family and adjudicated guilty of continuous violence against the family in separate indictments. He argued in his appeal that his double jeopardy rights were violated because the conviction for the former offense constituted a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction and subjected him to multiple punishments for the same offense. The Fourteenth Court of Appeals vacated his conviction and sentence of five years’ confinement for the offense of continuous violence against the family in one cause but affirmed his adjudication of guilt for the offense of continuous family violence and sentence of five years’ confinement in the other cause.
Find a Continuous Violence Against the Family Attorney in Denton, TX | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
If you or your loved one has been arrested for alleged continuous family violence in Denton, act quickly to find yourself legal counsel. Do not accept the first plea bargain that a prosecutor offers you without having a lawyer.