Domestic Assault: A Continuous Violence
Continuous violence against the family is a legal term that denotes a series of criminal acts committed against family or household members. These acts can manifest in various forms, from physical violence to emotional abuse, creating a pattern that the Texas legal system takes very seriously.
Family violence takes many forms, from domestic abuse and child maltreatment to elder abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, Texas has witnessed a steady rise in reported cases over the years, prompting concerns about the well-being of families across the state. It is crucial to recognize the various manifestations of violence within the family unit to understand the depth of this problem.
What is Continuous Violence Against the Family?
Commonly referred to as “Rachel’s Law,” named after a victim of family violence, a Texas prosecutor can bring a charge for continuous violence against the family even if domestic violence incidents occurred in different counties within the state.
This charge is for someone who had a domestic violence charge in the past year. Even if the alleged assaults didn’t lead to a charge, the incidents can still support a continuous family violence charge.
This rule applies to any family member, whether or not they are related by blood. This includes:
- Parents without being married
- People in romantic relationships
- Past husbands or wives
- Foster parents
- Foster children
Accusations don’t need to involve the same family member each time. In simple terms, if violence happens repeatedly, directed at different family members (or others), it can lead to a charge of continuous violence against a family.
Understanding Texas Law about Continuous Violence
As per section 25.11 of the Texas Penal Code, a person may face charges for continuous violence against the family. This applies if they engage in any of the following assaultive actions against someone who is a family member, lives in the same house, or is in a dating relationship with the accused.
- Hurting a family or household member or someone in a dating relationship on purpose, by accident, or with the awareness that it could cause harm.
- Threatening to cause immediate bodily harm knowingly or intentionally to a family or household member or a person in a dating relationship;
- Touching a family or household member or someone in a dating relationship on purpose, knowing it could be offensive or make the other person upset.
Additionally, the alleged assaultive offense must have happened two or more times within a 12 month period.
Let’s break down the definitions of these three types of relationships:
Family (Family Code § 71.003):
This includes people connected by family ties, like being descendants of the same ancestor or married to each other. It also covers former spouses, parents of the same child (even if not married), and foster children with their foster parents, regardless of living arrangements.
Dating Relationship (Family Code § 71.0021):
This refers to a romantic or intimate relationship between individuals, determined by looking at how long they’ve been together, the nature of their relationship, and how often they interact.
Household (Family Code § 25.11):
A household is a group of people living in the same place, whether or not they’re related to each other.
Continuous Violence Against the Family Charges in Texas
Looking solely at domestic violence, it’s important to note that it is categorized as a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, this offense can result in a jail sentence of up to 1 year and a fine of up to $4,000.
On the other hand, continuous violence against the family is considered a more serious crime, classified as a third-degree felony. This offense comes with a more severe penalty, including 2 to 10 years prison sentence and a fine of up to $10,000. The distinction in severity highlights the increased consequences for repeated acts of violence within a family context.
Possible Defense Against Domestic Assault Charges
Accidental Injury Defense:
- Domestic violence hinges on intent. If the harm was accidental, suggesting no intent, it challenges the basis of the accusation.
- In domestic violence cases, arrest doesn’t equal guilt. You have the right to tell your side, especially if acting in self-defense or protecting another family member.
- Police must follow protocols in domestic violence investigations. Constitutional rights, like proper search and seizure, Miranda warnings, and lawful arrest, must be upheld. If violated, your attorney may seek to exclude evidence resulting from the violation.
Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!
Dealing with continuous violence against the family is serious, and it needs a careful and experienced approach. Texas Criminal Defense Group specializes in criminal defense. Through legal experience, it’s clear how crucial a smart defense plan is. This involves questioning evidence, discussing plea deals, and grasping protective order details—each case requires a unique plan.
If facing accusations of continuous family violence, having an experienced defense lawyer is beneficial. They can provide valuable assistance in navigating the legal process and protecting your rights. Texas law can be confusing, but the right help ensures you navigate it and protect your rights.