Who can accuse you of domestic violence in Texas?

Domestic violence, also known as family violence, is a crime in Texas. Charges can range from a Class C misdemeanor, which can result in up to a year in jail, all the way up to a first-degree felony, which could potentially send you to prison for up to 99 years, with a minimum sentence of five years.

The three groups that can make a domestic assault charge

One of the key factors that separate domestic violence charges from other violent crimes is the relationship between the accused person and the person making the accusation. Texas law limits those who can make a claim of domestic violence to the following:

  • Family members
  • Household members, such as roommates, domestic partners, and a partner’s children
  • Someone you are currently dating or have dated in the past

Thus, you do not have to live with the person making the accusation. But they must be related to you, be in a romantic relationship with you, or have been in a prior relationship with you. Otherwise, domestic violence charges are not appropriate.

Importance of relationship during sentencing

The other time when the relationship between the parties matters is during sentencing. If the defendant is convicted or pleads guilty to domestic violence charges, factors that the judge or jury will consider when deciding what sentence to impose include:

  • The victim’s relationship to the victim
  • Whether the defendant has any prior convictions for domestic violence
  • Whether the defendant was convicted of using strangulation or suffocation

As we said before, family violence crimes range from Class C misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. However, the standard punishment is at the Class A misdemeanor level. The judge or jury can deviate from that level, depending on factors like the relationship of the parties and the nature of the violence involved.

Taking care of two cases at once

Besides the possible criminal penalties coming from a domestic assault charge, you also have to contend with a possible protective order against you. The order could force you to move out of your home, prevent you from seeing your kids, and force you to give up your firearms. It would be best if you chose a defense attorney who can represent you effectively on both sides of your case.