An upset man who committed a first-time violent act

How serious is a first-time arrest for domestic violence arrest?

One of the most common arrests in the Greater Houston area is for domestic violence, which is known as assault-family violence under Texas law. Under Texas law, assault-family violence is an unconsented to touching that causes physical pain. Most first-time domestic violence cases are charged as Class “A” misdemeanors. However, depending on the facts or whether the defendant has a prior conviction for assault-family violence, a domestic violence allegation can also be filed as a felony. Some first-time domestic violence cases are filed as felonies when there is an allegation of serious bodily injury, choking, the use of a deadly weapon, or an assault committed against a pregnant person. 

If you are charged with domestic violence, one question you may have is how serious the charge is and what the possible consequences may be. When discussing the consequences of any criminal case, including domestic violence cases, many lawyers distinguish between the direct and collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. The direct consequences are the potential punishment you may be facing based on the sentencing range for the particular type of assault-family violence you are charged with assault-family violence in Houston. For example, a first-time conviction for assault-family violence is charged as a Class “A” misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year and jail and a $4000 fine. 

Collateral consequences can be thought of as secondary consequences of a conviction, like loss of a professional license or the right to own a firearm, which can both be impacted by a conviction or deferred adjudication for assault-family violence. Additionally, for defendants who are non-citizens, a conviction or deferred adjudication for assault-family violence can create major problems, as assault-family violence is considered a “crime of moral turpitude” under Federal Immigration law. The collateral consequences of an assault-family violence case will vary widely depending on the criminal history, occupation and citizenship status of a defendant. An experienced criminal defense attorney should give you a complete picture of all consequences you might be facing, whether direct or indirect. 

Apart from the direct and collateral consequences of a conviction, an assault-family violence arrest can lead to restrictive bond conditions that must be obeyed while the case is pending. For many defendants, the most problematic bond conditions can be a Magistrate’s Order of Emergency Protection (MOEP) that prohibits a defendant from contacting the alleged victim, or going near their home or work. The effect for many defendants is that they have to move out of the home while the case is pending. Although MOEPS expire after 60 or 90 days, a judge may have separate bond conditions that also prevent a defendant from going to certain addresses or communicating with the alleged victim in a domestic violence case. 

In short, the consequences of even a misdemeanor assault-family violence arrest can be severe, even before a conviction. But fortunately, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help at every stage, beginning with easing the conditions that have to be followed while the case is pending. While a defendant is on bond, it is possible to get a MOEP lifted to allow a defendant to return home while the case is resolved. Properly defending a domestic violence case can take several months or even more than a year (in the Houston area, it will typically take several months before a criminal defense attorney is provided all of the evidence in a domestic violence case). As a result, it is critical for a defense attorney to help a defendant get his life back to normal while the case is pending so that he can let the process play out and maximize his chances of obtaining a good result. 

The goal of any assault-family violence case is to obtain a dismissal of the charges. Although no attorney can guarantee a dismissal since attorneys do not control the facts, an experienced attorney can help maximize the chances of an excellent result by aggressively and strategically attacking the evidence. Ceja Law Firm has successfully defended assault-family violence cases throughout the Greater Houston area. If you or a loved one has been charged with assault-family violence, call Ceja Law Firm today.