Domestic Violence Laws: Know Your Rights and Legal Options for Protection

one person's hand holding another person's wrist

Facing domestic violence is a challenging situation that nobody should experience. Unfortunately, it remains a reality for many people in the United States and around the world today. In this article, we explore the rights and legal options available to those in this situation in the state of Texas. We will analyze the protective measures, legal resources, and support victims can seek to escape this situation and rebuild their lives.

Safety and Privacy Alert for Victims of Domestic Violence: Make sure you are using a secure device (whether a computer, tablet, or smartphone) when seeking help online. Some victims share the same device, phone plan, or network as their abuser, allowing them access to browsing or call history (which can put them in danger or alert the abuser). These devices may also contain cameras or GPS tracking that could disclose their location to the abuser. If you fear someone is monitoring your email or online activity, use a device that cannot be monitored or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 (SAFE).
If you are in an emergency situation and need immediate police assistance, call 9-1-1.

Domestic Violence is a Crime

Although the state of Texas does not have specific statutes on domestic violence or intimate dating violence, these are included in the Texas Assault Statutes, and like a crime, such assaults have penalties and legal restrictions.

So, how does Texas law define this type of violence?

As stated in the Texas Family Code, Family Violence is defined in chapter 71.004 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."

The most common domestic violence offenses can be categorized as domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, continuous violence against the family, and violation of protective orders. Other acts or attempts against a person that may be considered crimes include stalking, kidnapping, unlawful restraint, and homicide.

It is common for victims of domestic violence to have difficulty recognizing a family member as an abuser, accepting that they are in an abusive and dangerous environment, and finding the courage to leave. This often occurs due to the stigma surrounding family violence cases or other influencing factors that compel victims to stay, such as financial situation, immigration status, or fear of living with the abuser and the repercussions they may face.

For this reason, it is essential that if you are a victim of any type of domestic violence, know that you are not alone, and there are a series of laws and rights that protect you. It is important to know your rights and to go through this emotionally exhausting process with trusted individuals who can help you represent a case before the court to the best of your ability.

That is why if you need help with a Domestic Violence case, you can consult with the lawyers at GarciaWindsor, who have over 86 years of combined experience and understand the challenges a victim of assault faces, always seeking to defend the rights of our clients and ensure their protection.

What are the Rights of a Victim of Domestic Violence in Texas?

There are law enforcement agencies and public services for all victims of family violence, which seek to help victims leave these situations. Texas presents the Family Violence Program, which seeks to offer victims self-sufficiency, safety, and independence, providing emergency shelter and support services to victims and their children. If you are a victim of domestic violence in Texas, you have the right to:

It is also essential to seek legal help from experts who can advise and guide you when making a report or filing charges. With proper legal assistance, an experienced lawyer can request a protective order against your abuser, put you in touch with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and file charges of domestic violence against your abuser.

Domestic Violence Offenses

Domestic Violence is punishable by both misdemeanor and felony offenses. When domestic assault involves threats and/or any provocative or offensive contact, it is considered a Class C misdemeanor, and the corresponding penalty may involve a $500 fine. However, if the assault causes bodily injury to the victim, the offense increases to a Class A misdemeanor, which carries penalties of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

The penalty increases to a third-degree felony if the offender had previous convictions for domestic violence or if strangulation or asphyxiation occurred during the assault. If both of the aforementioned charges are present, the offense becomes a second-degree felony, and both are punishable by imprisonment for 2 to 10 years and a $10,000 fine.

The charge for continuous violence is made when there have been at least two domestic violence incidents within a 12-month period against one or more family members, where the aggressor must have been arrested on those occasions (although not convicted), and the assault does not have to be against the same family member.

Who Does the Law consider a Family Member?

Family members are understood as individuals who establish a blood or affinity relationship (such as marriage). This includes: spouse, ex-spouse, parents of the same child, adopted or foster child, adoptive and foster parents, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, and uncles, cousins. The Texas Family Code also mentions members of a household who reside in the same dwelling regardless of the relationship, including even those who previously lived in the household.

Is it considered Family Violence if we are not married?

In the same chapter 71, the Texas Family Code also mentions "Dating Violence," including it as part of reports of family violence. It states that dating violence occurs between individuals who have been in a continuous romantic or intimate relationship.

Defense Against Domestic Violence in Dallas

If you are a victim of Domestic Violence and need help ending a dangerous situation or are being charged with domestic violence offenses, it is best to consult with experts who can advise you. GarciaWindsor is a family law firm in Dallas, Texas, with a team of lawyers with over 86 years of combined experience, characterized by our determination and dedication in every case. We treat every client as if they were a member of our family, ensuring they receive the attention they deserve and care for every detail of their case.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and begin the process of starting a new chapter in your life.