Is It Domestic Violence? Criminal Charges in Texas

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You’re very likely aware that domestic violence is a serious crime, but you may not be sure what qualifies as domestic violence in the State of Texas. Domestic violence can be tricky to identify, and no two cases ever duplicate one another.

Anyone can be an abuser, and it is very difficult to know what goes on behind closed doors, which makes the charge of domestic violence exceptionally challenging. If you are facing a domestic violence charge, do not put off obtaining the professional legal counsel of an experienced domestic violence attorney in Cedar Park, Texas.

Domestic Violence Charges

In Texas, domestic violence charges are classified under assault. Simple assault refers to knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing someone else to suffer bodily harm, threatening someone else with imminent bodily harm, or causing physical contact with someone else while knowing that they will find it offensive or provocative.

Aggravated assault, on the other hand, refers to knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing someone else to suffer serious bodily harm or using or brandishing a deadly weapon in the commission of an assault.

For the assault charge to qualify as domestic violence, the victim must be related to the offender in one of the following ways:

  • The current spouse or a former spouse of the accused

  • A family member of the accused

  • A current or former romantic partner of the accused

Warning Signs of Abuse

The National Domestic Violence Hotline shares the following warning signs of abuse:

  • Claiming a partner can’t do anything right

  • Insulting, shaming, or demeaning a partner – especially in the presence of others

  • Being extremely jealous of a partner’s time and attention

  • Discouraging a partner from getting out and spending time with friends, family members, loved ones, or coworkers

  • Controlling the household finances without allowing discussion on the matter, which can include taking a partner’s earnings and refusing to provide him or her with funds for necessary expenditures

  • Pressuring a partner to have sex when they do not want to or pressuring a partner into engaging in sex acts that make them uncomfortable

  • Pressuring a partner to drink or use drugs

  • Using intimidating looks or gestures to control a partner

  • Insulting a partner’s parenting or threatening to harm his or her children or pets

  • Damaging a partner’s possessions or residence

  • Using weapons to intimidate a partner

Each of these behaviors is a red flag that should not be ignored. While some of these warning signs may not rise to the level of domestic violence on their own, some do, and none of these behaviors set the tone for a healthy relationship. Further, in domestic violence cases, witnesses who report seeing the accused exhibit behaviors like the above can have a significant effect on the jury.

If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is important to recognize that it is easy for your partner to accuse you of abusive actions, and it is next to impossible to prove that they never happened. The sooner you have a Cedar Park domestic violence lawyer on your side, the better protected you will be from accusations that may have no basis in reality.

What Domestic Violence Looks Like

While domestic violence can take many forms, it is often physical, and when it is, it is very likely to escalate. Physical violence occurs on a continuum, and while some actions are on the milder end of things, resorting to physical violence in any capacity is a sign that the perpetrator may be capable of doing far worse.

Consider the following common examples of physical acts that qualify as domestic violence:

  • Pushing

  • Slapping

  • Kicking

  • Scratching

  • Punching

  • Pulling or yanking hair

  • Biting

Other forms of physical domestic violence include spitting at or near one’s partner, throwing things at or near one’s partner, using anything as a weapon against one’s partner, subjecting one’s partner to dangerously reckless driving, and using a weapon to threaten one’s partner. Finally, strangling one’s partner is afforded special attention for all of the following reasons:

  • A person who engages in strangulation is highly likely to become progressively more violent, and things can escalate quickly.

  • Strangulation leaves very few visible signs but is exceptionally dangerous.

  • Cutting off someone else’s ability to breathe is a terrifying practice that can turn fatal in nearly the blink of an eye.

Emotional Abuse

With physical abuse, there is a chance of leaving evidence behind that corroborates the domestic violence charge. While emotional abuse can be just as damaging, it is generally far more difficult to prove. Emotional abuse is designed to exert control over the victim, to frighten them, to isolate them, or to accomplish all three.

Common examples of emotional abuse include all the following behaviors:

  • Monitoring a partner’s activities – with or without their knowledge

  • Attempting to control a partner’s appearance, including what they wear

  • Gaslighting a partner, which refers to refusing to acknowledge reality in an attempt to make someone feel or appear crazy

  • Blaming a partner for the abuser’s cruel behaviors

  • Cheating on a partner in an attempt to hurt him or her and make him or her feel inferior

  • Unjustly accusing a partner of cheating

  • Insisting that a partner is lucky to be in a relationship with the abuser

Emotional abuse often presents itself as a pattern of damaging behaviors.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse refers to a partner who extends their reach into the other person’s financial affairs – often cutting them out in the process. Because finances are critical to managing one’s own life and supporting one’s children, financial abuse can be especially damaging. Some of the signs of financial abuse include the following behaviors:

  • A partner who lives with the other person but refuses to contribute to household expenses

  • A partner who closely monitors the other person’s spending or who puts them on a tight allowance

  • A partner who deposits the other person’s paychecks in an inaccessible account

  • A partner who steals from the other person, the other person’s family members, or the other person’s friends

  • A partner who steals from the savings accounts of the other person’s children

  • A partner who stops the other person from working altogether or who forces them to take specific kinds of jobs

  • A partner who fraudulently maxes out the other person’s credit cards or otherwise damages their credit score

  • A partner who takes the other person’s tax return or who keeps a joint return for him or herself

Digital Abuse

Abuse can rear its ugly head in any location, including on the internet. Digital abuse refers to using online platforms to bully, control, intimidate, harass, or stalk one’s partner, which makes it a form of emotional abuse that happens to be conducted online. Examples of digital abuse include the following behaviors:

  • A partner who monitors the other person’s online presence and dictates whom they follow or friend

  • A partner who uses social media or technology to track the other person’s activities

  • A partner who constantly messages the other person – leaving them anxious and fearful in the process

  • A partner who creates fake profiles in the other person’s likeness and then pretends to be them – in an effort to humiliate or isolate them

  • A partner who sends the other person threatening, insulting, or negative messages electronically

  • A partner who insults or humiliates the other person online, which can include posting unflattering photos

  • A partner who forces or pressures the other person to engage in some form of sexting, which can include explicit photos

  • A partner who takes over the other person’s account IDs and passwords

  • A partner who commandeers the other person’s phone

It’s important to remember that once something is launched online, it takes on a life of its own, which can exacerbate the effects of digital abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse tends to involve nonconsensual acts and force. A partner who forces the other person to engage in sexual acts that they don’t want to engage in or who exerts control over them in relation to their sexuality is guilty of domestic violence that takes the form of sexual abuse.

If you’ve been accused of domestic violence in any form, you are likely feeling overwhelmed and may not have any idea where to turn. By reaching out for skilled legal guidance from a Cedar Park criminal defense lawyer early on, you help to ensure that you’ll be prepared to bring your strongest defense.

Is It a Case of Domestic Violence?

If the act in question or the acts in question check all the following boxes, the matter likely qualifies as domestic violence:

  • The perpetrator is a family member or a current or former romantic partner.

  • The acts in question fall into one of the categories of abuse described above.

  • The victim was harmed or was in credible fear of suffering imminent harm.

Protecting Yourself in the Face of Domestic Violence Charges

If you have been accused of domestic violence, now is the time to distance yourself from your accuser and obtain the counsel of a practiced Cedar Park domestic violence lawyer. Domestic violence cases tend to be emotionally charged, and removing yourself from the situation can help turn things down a notch or two.

Your domestic violence defense attorney will ably take on all the following primary tasks in their focused efforts to defend your legal rights and to bring about your case’s most favorable resolution:

  • Gathering all the evidence in your case, including all of the prosecution’s evidence, the police report, and any other documentation generated by the charge

  • Digging for any exculpatory evidence (evidence that supports your innocence)

  • Strategizing a solid defense that refutes the state’s case

  • Negotiating with the prosecution in an effort to have the charge against you dropped or reduced or to have the sentence you face reduced – depending upon the circumstances involved

  • Preparing to take your case to trial when doing so provides the best opportunity to reach an advantageous resolution

  • Ensuring that everything the prosecution has against you was obtained in accordance with the law – rather than through illegal search and seizure

FAQ about Domestic Violence Charges

Consider the answers to the following frequently asked questions in relation to your own case. If you have specific questions about your case, contact a Cedar Park domestic violence lawyer.

Can I Be Charged with Domestic Violence If My Accuser Wasn’t Harmed?

You can be charged with domestic violence even if your accuser wasn’t harmed. If your accuser maintains that he or she feared imminent and serious harm, the account can lead to domestic violence charges. Consult with a trusted Cedar Park domestic violence defense lawyer to protect your rights when facing domestic violence charges.

What Kind of Defense Can I Bring?

Your defense will hinge on the facts and the evidence involved, but common defense strategies include the following arguments:

  • You were falsely accused.

  • You acted in self-defense.

  • There is insufficient evidence of injury, or there is a lack of corroborating evidence.

  • You lacked the intent to cause harm.

Is Having an Attorney Important?

Having a formidable domestic violence attorney in your corner will play a critical role in the outcome of your case, and proceeding without legal guidance in the face of a charge as serious as domestic violence is never advisable.

Reach Out to an Experienced Cedar Park Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Today

Domestic violence charges are serious charges that come with serious consequences, and bringing a solid defense from the start is the best path forward. Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard is a savvy Cedar Park, Texas, domestic violence defense attorney who is committed to developing your strongest case and zealously advocating for its best possible conclusion.

Your future is too important to leave to chance, and our knowledgeable legal team is well prepared to fight for your rights. To learn more about what we can do to help you, please don’t put off contacting us online or calling us at (254) 781-4222 to schedule your FREE consultation today.

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