Assault and family violence arrests in Texas are serious charges. Many Texans don’t realize that calling the police in the heat of a domestic dispute will probably result in someone being arrested. Responding officers frequently conduct sloppy investigations, jump to conclusions, and arrest innocent people for Assault / Family Violence. Sometimes even the person who called 9-1-1 in the first place is arrested.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the consequences of being arrested for assault family violence.
What is the penalty range for assault with family violence?
Depending on your prior criminal history and the specific facts alleged by the police, e.g., bodily injury, choking, deadly weapon, or other aggravating circumstances, an assault or aggravated assault with family violence case can be filed as a Class C misdemeanor on up to a 1st degree felony.
The range of possible outcomes at the low end of the spectrum includes deferred dispositions and fine-only convictions, the former of which may qualify for expunction. Higher level misdemeanors that result in convictions may involve probation or even time in the county jail. Depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the allegations, deferred prosecution is also a possibility and is a very desirable outcome in many cases because it results in a dismissal that is usually eligible for expunction.
Felony cases that result in a conviction may involve probation or time in the penitentiary and the most severe felony cases carry a maximum punishment range of life in prison.
How can I determine if the charge is regular assault or family violence?
Find your case on the docket and look on the last column on the right. Some of the most common family violence charges are:
ASSAULT CAUSES BODILY INJURY FAMILY VIOLENCE
ASSAULT CAUSES BODILY INJ DATE/FAMILY/HOUSE
ASSAULT CAUSES BODILY INJ FAMILY VIOLENCE ENH
ASSAULT FAMILY/HOUSEHOLD MEMBER
ASSAULT FAMILY/HOUSEHOLD MEMBER W/PREV CONV
AGG ASSAULT DATE/FAMILY/HOUSE W/WEAPON
ASSAULT BI FAM/HOUSE MEM 2+ W/IN 12 MONTHS
ASSAULT FAM/HOUSE MEM IMPEDE BREATH/CIRCULAT
If the charge listed on the docket for your case is not in the list above it may have been be filed as ordinary Assault or Aggravated Assault or as Violation of a Protective Order.
What is wrong with Deferred Adjudication for family violence cases?
Deferred Adjudication is better than straight probation in most criminal cases because it is not a conviction and your criminal history can be partially sealed if an order of non-disclosure is granted after you successfully complete the probationary period. Non-disclosure also allows you to legally deny an arrest on employment applications.
Unfortunately, the non-disclosure law specifically excludes anyone ever convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication probation for a case involving family violence. In other words, entering into a plea bargain agreement for deferred adjudication will make you permanently ineligible for non-disclosure in the future, even for unrelated charges.
In addition, deferred adjudication is treated like a conviction for some purposes, such as federal firearms prohibitions and enhancement of future family violence charges. Thus, for family violence cases, deferred adjudication probation has many of the same consequences as straight probation.
That said, you should not automatically reject a plea bargain offer just because it includes the word “deferred.” There are pretrial diversion programs that are sometimes called Deferred Prosecution and Deferred Disposition. Successful completion of pretrial diversion usually results in a complete dismissal and makes it possible to obtain an Expunction. Expunction is even better than non-disclosure because it completely removes a case from your criminal history and causes all records of the arrest and prosecution to be deleted and destroyed.
Assault and family violence arrests in Texas are serious charges. These are are some FAQs about what happens.