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Comparing Civil and Criminal Domestic Violence Cases in Texas

Allegations of domestic violence are treated very seriously in Texas, which is why lawmakers have enacted numerous statutes to protect victims and their families. Still, you might not realize that the structure of these laws actually creates two separate types of legal proceedings. The allegations of an accuser could lead to:

  1. A criminal case involving charges for assault, battery, and/or other violent offenses; and,
  2. The Texas Family Code provides for a civil court proceeding to obtain a protective order.

If you are facing either or both of these types of cases, it is essential to consult with a Houston domestic violence attorney right away. The ramifications could affect your rights, personal freedoms, and even family relationships. An overview of the two types of domestic violence cases may also be helpful.

Criminal Charges for Domestic Violence

Regardless of the relationship between the individuals, an attack on another human being is a crime. However, the nature of the charges varies based upon underlying circumstances. For instance:

  • You could be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor for intentionally causing or threatening to cause harm to a family member, member of your household, or someone who you are or did date. A conviction could lead to a year in jail.
  • The offense is a Third Degree Felony if you have a prior conviction for domestic assault.
  • It is a Second Degree Felony to intentionally cause serious bodily injury to the individuals described above. If you used a weapon in connection with the offense, the crime is a First Degree Felony. At minimum, you could be sentenced to two years’ incarceration, but some felonies carry a life sentence.

Civil Court Proceedings for Domestic Violence Injunctions

Criminal penalties are often not enough to deter a potential offender from domestic violence. As such, Texas law allows an individual to seek a protective order that prohibits contact, communication, and other conduct. It may even prevent you from contacting your children.

To get a protective order, the accuser must file a petition stating allegations of domestic violence by the other person, termed the “respondent.” This can be done on an ex parte basis, which means you will not receive notice nor have an opportunity to defend yourself. Because of the implications for your rights, it cannot be in effect for more than 20 days. You WILL get your day in court at the next hearing to extend the protective order, so you can present testimony and evidence in your favor.

Speak to a Houston Domestic Violence Lawyer About Your Options

Considering the extensive consequences of both criminal and civil domestic violence cases in Texas, you can see that retaining skilled legal counsel is critical. Our team at the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates are better able to serve your needs when we get involved at the earliest stages of the process, so please contact us right away. You can set up a consultation at our offices in Houston by calling (281) 280-0100 or going online. Once we review your circumstances, we can discuss a strategy for obtaining a favorable outcome.