Domestic Violence and COVID-19: What To Do If You Are Facing Charges
- May 20, 2020
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on Domestic Violence and COVID-19: What To Do If You Are Facing Charges
Let’s face it – humans are pretty independent creatures. None of us were created with the intention of spending every waking moment around another person. When conditions get cramped and stress runs high, we sometimes lash out at the ones we love the most.
It’s no surprise, then, that the current quarantine situation has resulted in a massive uptick in domestic violence-related arrests in Texas. You might be surprised at the types of actions that are defined as domestic violence in our state. Learn everything you need to know about domestic violence during the COVID-19 crisis below.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Texas?
Many mistakenly believe that domestic violence charges only happen when someone physically hurts their spouse or family member, but that’s not the case in Texas. A broad range of actions can constitute domestic violence including simply threatening or intimidating someone who lives in the same house as you. To be considered domestic violence, the victim must be either:
- A current or former romantic partner
- A child of a current or former romantic partner
- An individual who has a child with the offender
- A person related by blood, marriage, or adoption to the offender
- Someone who lives in the same household as the offender
So, what actions are considered domestic violence? According to Texas law, any type of physical contact with or without bodily injury against one of the individuals listed above can be considered domestic violence. This definition includes any type of threat of violence, physical intimidation, or ongoing harassment. The severity of your penalties hinges on the degree of harm or threat you posed to the victim. You’ll also be sentenced more severely if you’ve been accused of committing domestic violence in the past.
What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges in Texas?
While domestic violence is a fairly common crime, make no mistake about the consequences that come along with these types of actions. If you’re convicted of a domestic violence-related crime, then your consequences will last a lifetime. Here are a few of the penalties associated with a domestic violence conviction:
- Jail time
- A probation period after incarceration
- Significant fines
- Restitution to the victim
- Limitations on future career opportunities
- You won’t be eligible to purchase or own a firearm
- You’ll be ineligible to obtain a hunting or fishing license
- You’ll no longer be eligible for certain types of financial aid
- Child custody arrangements may be impacted
There are three main types of domestic violence in Texas – aggravated domestic assault, domestic assault, and continuous violence. Depending on the specific crime you’re charged with, you could be facing either a misdemeanor of felony-level crime. Continuous violence against a family member means that you’ve committed two domestic assaults within a year’s time. This type of behavior is considered a serious third-degree felony. This type of crime could mean a prison sentence of two to ten years.
An aggravated domestic assault that causes serious injury to the victim is considered a first-degree felony. That means you’re looking at a whopping five to 99 years in prison if you’re convicted.
Is COVID-19 Causing More Domestic Violence Arrests?
Right now, the globe is overwhelmed with the COVID-19 crisis. The novel coronavirus has led most governments around the world to implement temporary lockdown measures. These measures mean more people are being forced to stay in their homes.
On top of more interaction with their family members, individuals are also forced to deal with unprecedented stress levels, too. Kids are home from school, millions have lost their jobs and we’re being told to not attend church or family functions. Most individuals are also in fear of getting sick right now.
Overall, the current situation is pushing many individuals past their breaking points. As a result, police forces around the country are seeing a rise in domestic violence incidents. Experts say this increase is a result of families spending more time together.
Steps to Take if You Get Arrested for Domestic Violence
Domestic violence carries heavy penalties. Unfortunately, many citizens falsely report this type of crime for all the wrong reasons – retribution, out of spite, in anger, or in an attempt to manipulate a custody battle or divorce settlement. Were you wrongly accused of and arrested for a domestic violence-related crime? If so, then it’s important to take the following steps:
- Comply with the officers during your arrest
- Do not admit to fighting (even verbally) with your spouse
- Hire a lawyer before answering any questions (or request one if you can’t afford one)
Do not attempt to contact the victim and ask them to drop the charges.
Even if the person who falsely reported the crime later retracts it, the state may still decide to pursue the charges out of an abundance of caution. The reason why this happens so often is because it’s well-known that abuse victims are scared of their abusers, so they may be tempted to retract a claim despite it being true.
How Can I Defend Myself Against Domestic Violence Charges?
There are several valid legal defenses against domestic violence charges including:
- The allegations are false
- Lack of intent (it was an accident)
- Lack of evidence
- Diminished capacity
Not every defense will be effective in every situation. For that reason, it’s important to discuss the specifics of the alleged incident and your arrest with an attorney. A good lawyer will analyze all the circumstances and evidence surrounding your case before deciding on which defense strategy to use in court.
Everything You Need to Know About Domestic Violence and COVID-19
Have you or a loved one been arrested for domestic violence in Texas? Whether you got physical with another resident of your home or not, your charges remain the same. The consequences of domestic violence are steep in Texas, and this type of offense can never get expunged from your record. If you’re hoping to avoid life-long penalties, then you need to hire a lawyer as soon as possible.
Together, you and your lawyer will discuss what happened and come to an agreement on how you will defend yourself against the charges. By choosing our firm, you’re selecting some of the best legal representation in the state. We’ll fight hard to get your charges dropped or reduced. If we can’t prevent a conviction, then we’ll work diligently to ensure your penalties are as minimal as the law allows. Reach out to our office now to learn more about how we can.