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Do You Need an Attorney for a First-Time Domestic Violence Charge?


A first-time domestic violence offense is typically classified as a Class A misdemeanor in Texas, so legal representation is strongly recommended, as a conviction could carry serious penalties, including up to a year in prison.

What to Expect After a First-Time Domestic Violence Charge

Dealing with a first-time domestic violence charge can be an incredibly stressful and confusing experience. If you're facing such a charge in Fort Bend County, Texas, it's critical to understand your rights and the potential outcomes of your case. A domestic violence attorney at Stornello Law Firm, PC, can provide the guidance and representation you need during this challenging time.

Understanding Domestic Violence Charges

A domestic violence charge, also known as an assault-family violence case, can apply to various types of relationships, not just marital ones. A domestic violence charge arises when there's an alleged assault that leads to "bodily injury" against a defendant’s spouse, someone they are dating, or a family member. The term "bodily injury," per Texas Penal Code 1.07, is defined as any physical pain, illness, or impairment of physical condition.

However, certain circumstances may escalate a first-time assault-family violence charge from a misdemeanor to a felony. The most common scenarios include allegations of choking, use of a deadly weapon, or infliction of serious bodily injury.

When choking is involved, the charge can be elevated to a third-degree felony. This carries a penalty of 2-10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. If the allegation includes the usage of a deadly weapon or results in serious bodily injury, the charge could potentially be escalated to a second-degree felony, which carries a punishment of 2 to 25 years.

It's important to note that these charges and their potential penalties underscore the gravity of domestic violence under Texas law, emphasizing the need for experienced legal representation if you find yourself facing such charges. These charges can have severe consequences in Texas, including jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record.

Important Issues Impacting Your Domestic Violence Case in Texas

Several factors can significantly impact the outcome of your domestic violence case. Understanding these issues is crucial for your defense strategy. Here are several important points that can impact your case:

  1. Having a Protective Order Lifted: While most assault-family violence cases come with bond conditions and MOEPs (Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection) restricting contact, these conditions can sometimes be lifted. A criminal defense attorney can work with you to develop a strategy to request that the requirements be modified based on your specific circumstances; however, the judge handling the case will make the final determination.
  2. Pushing the Victim in Your Case to "Drop" Charges: If you’re hoping to reconcile or work with the victim in your case to have charges dropped, you should be aware that it’s a common misconception that if a victim requests to drop the charges the case will automatically be dismissed. While the complaining witness's testimony is often crucial in assault-family violence cases, and their absence could weaken the prosecution's case, the State of Texas can choose to proceed with the case regardless of the victim's wishes. Furthermore, if contacting the victim will violate a protective order, your case could be irrevocably damaged.
  3. Violation of a Protective Order: If the protective order on your case isn’t lifted, then you must follow the rules of the order to the letter. Violating a protective order in a domestic violence case can lead to severe consequences, such as:
  • Revocation of your bond, potentially leading to months in custody while your case is pending
  • Additional criminal charges under Texas Penal Code 25.07 for violating the protective order
  • Obstacles for your defense attorney as they try to work toward a favorable result in your case, as prosecutors and judges often view violators of protective orders as dangerous individuals

These are just a few of the key issues that can impact your domestic violence case. It's essential to have an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands these complexities and can guide you through this challenging process.

The Role of a Domestic Violence Attorney

A domestic violence attorney at Stornello Law Firm, PC, can help you navigate the legal system, explain your charges, and discuss potential defense strategies. An experienced attorney will work within the system to protect your constitutionally protected rights. In some cases, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal to reduce your charges or penalties. Negotiating a plea deal requires a deep understanding of the local legal system and strong negotiation skills.

Navigating a First-Time Domestic Violence Charge with Stornello Law Firm, PC

With years of experience defending clients against domestic violence charges, the Stornello Law Firm, PC team knows how to handle these cases. They understand the nuances of the Texas legal system and can work with you to protect your interests.

Our legal team provides:

  • Personalized Defense Strategies: Every case is unique, and the attorneys at Stornello Law Firm, PC, will take the time to understand your situation and develop a personalized defense strategy. They will work tirelessly to protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome.
  • Support and Compassion: Facing a domestic violence charge can be emotionally overwhelming. The team at Stornello Law Firm, PC, offers legal support and emotional support, understanding that their clients are going through a difficult period.

If you're facing a first-time domestic violence charge in Fort Bend County, Texas, don't go through it alone. Contact Stornello Law Firm, PC, today to schedule a consultation. Call (281) 761-7160 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.