Court Process in Domestic Violence Cases

The Texas Family Code refers to domestic violence as family violence, and this is a common kind of criminal case that can lead to numerous problems for entire families. People arrested for domestic violence offenses often face significant confusion about what will happen with their cases and how seriously they must take the entire process.

The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy offers this webpage as a resource for people trying to understand what they can expect in a domestic violence case. All people should know that every case is different, and as a result, any case can take a wildly unexpected turn because of unique factors that may not be addressed here.

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Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, TX

If you were recently arrested for an alleged domestic violence offense in Denton County, you need to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Quickly find yourself a criminal defense attorney who can help you fight your criminal charges. Our firm defends clients all over Texas who are facing accusations relating to various family violence offenses and we know how to get these types of charges reduced or dismissed. Our firm can examine your case and discuss all of your legal options

Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (940) 222-8004 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, and surrounding areas of Denton County, Texas.

Texas Domestic Violence Definitions

Under Texas Family Code § 71.003, the term family includes “individuals related by consanguinity or affinity, 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.” Two people are related by consanguinity when one is a descendant of the other or they share a common ancestor, and two people are related by affinity if they are married to each other or the spouse of one of the individuals is related by consanguinity to the other individual.

Texas Family Code § 71.004 defines family violence as:

  • 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 or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself;
  • abuse, as that term is defined by Texas Family Code § 261.001(1)(C), (E), (G), (H), (I), (J), (K), and (M), by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household; or
  • dating violence, as that term is defined by Texas Family Code § 71.0021.

Under Texas Family Code § 261.001, abuse is defined as follows for the relevant sections:

  • (C) physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm;
  • (E) sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare, including conduct that constitutes the offense of continuous sexual abuse of young child or children under Section 21.02, Penal Code, indecency with a child under Section 21.11, Penal Code, sexual assault under Section 22.011, Penal Code, or aggravated sexual assault under Section 22.021, Penal Code;
  • (G) compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct as defined by Section 43.01, Penal Code, including compelling or encouraging the child in a manner that constitutes an offense of trafficking of persons under Section 20A.02(a)(7) or (8), Penal Code, prostitution under Section 43.02(b), Penal Code, or compelling prostitution under Section 43.05(a)(2), Penal Code;
  • (H) causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the photographing, filming, or depicting of the child if the person knew or should have known that the resulting photograph, film, or depiction of the child is obscene as defined by Section 43.21, Penal Code, or pornographic;
  • (I) the current use by a person of a controlled substance as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code, in a manner or to the extent that the use results in physical, mental, or emotional injury to a child;
  • (J) causing, expressly permitting, or encouraging a child to use a controlled substance as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code;
  • (K) causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing a sexual performance by a child as defined by Section 43.25, Penal Code;
  • (M) forcing or coercing a child to enter into a marriage.

Texas Family Code § 71.0021 defines dating violence as an act, other than a defensive measure to protect oneself, by an alleged offender that:

  • is committed against a victim or applicant for a protective order with whom the alleged offender has or has had a dating relationship; or because of the victim’s or applicant’s marriage to or dating relationship with an individual with whom the alleged offender is or has been in a dating relationship or marriage; and
  • is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the victim or applicant in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault.

Dating relationship means a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be 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.

Overview of Court Process in Domestic Violence Cases

In general, the domestic violence case will unfold as follows:

  • Making a criminal complaintTexas Code of Criminal Procedure § 5.04 establishes that the “primary duties of a peace officer who investigates a family violence allegation or who responds to a disturbance call that may involve family violence are to protect any potential victim of family violence, enforce the law of this state, enforce a protective order from another jurisdiction as provided by Chapter 88, Family Code, and make lawful arrests of violators.” Law enforcement will typically offer a sworn statement in filing a criminal complaint against an alleged offender in a domestic violence case.
  • Charges sent to prosecutor for review — After criminal charges have been filed, it is then the prosecutor they are assigned to who reviews the case and determines the next steps that will be taken. The prosecutor could seek an arrest warrant when an alleged offender was not arrested at the scene of an alleged offense.
  • Arresting the alleged offender — If a prosecutor seeks an arrest warrant for an alleged offender, then that person will usually be taken into custody by the local law enforcement agency.
  • Court appearance — The alleged offender is taken into court and is informed of the charges against them.
  • Setting bail — The court will decide what bail the alleged offender must post to be released and may also outline measures to detain an alleged offender if bail is posted.
  • Grand jury — A prosecutor may present the case to a private proceeding in which jurors decide whether there is sufficient evidence to take the case to trial.
  • Pretrial hearing — The preliminary hearing will be used to allow a prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge to examine the evidence and criminal charges to determine if the case can proceed to trial.
  • Plea bargaining — A defense lawyer and prosecutor will negotiate to avoid a trial through some sort of plea agreement, if one can be reached.
  • Trial — After a case is approved to head toward trial, then the day will arrive in which a prosecutor presents their case before a jury and the defense attorney gets a chance to defend the alleged offender’s innocence.
  • Sentencing — If an alleged offender is convicted of a family violence offense, then the next appearance will be to receive their sentence from the court.
  • Appeal — An alleged offender who is convicted of a domestic violence offense in one court may choose to appeal the decision to a higher court if there was an error in the decision.

Denton, TX Court Process in Domestic Violence Case Resources

A Guide to the Texas Criminal Legal System for Family Violence Victims | TexasLawHelp.org — Visit this website to learn more about what you should do when a crime of family violence occurs. You can also find more information about steps in the criminal justice process. You can also find a link to a brochure created by the Texas Council on Family Violence.

Texas Attorney General | Family Violence | Liberty and Justice for Texas — On this section of the attorney general’s website, you can learn more about how prevalent family violence is in Texas. Also find more information about who the victims of domestic violence are and what the effects of family violence are. You can read about the Crime Victims’ Compensation (CVC) Program.

Find A Denton County Defense Attorney for Domestic Violence Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

If you were arrested for a domestic violence crime in Denton or a surrounding area of Denton County, you will have to take swift and decisive action. Make sure that you are seeking an experienced criminal defense lawyer for your case.

Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (940) 222-8004 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, and surrounding areas of Denton County, Texas.