If you’ve been arrested for “assault and family violence” because of an alleged fight with a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a roommate, a parent or sibling, you could face a number of serious charges in Fort Worth criminal court, including:
- Family Violence Assault – causing bodily injury
- Assault causing bodily injury to a date, family member or household members
- Previous Conviction Assault on a family/household member
- Aggravated assault on a date, family member or household member with a weapon
- Felony assault: The courts can choose to prosecute several Class A misdemeanor assault charges as one 3rd degree felony assault charge
- Assault on a family or household member that impedes breathing or circulation
- Interfering with an emergency call
- Violation of a protective order
Some people don’t call a Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer about assault and family violence right away because the “victim” has said she/he won’t press charges. You need to know that the decision is not up to them. The police officer responding to the 911 call will decide whether to make an arrest (they almost always do) and the District Attorney’s office will decide whether to charge you with a crime (they almost always do).
You need to fight the charges. You need a strong, immediate, strategic defense.
Conviction on a family violence charge will mean a criminal record. It can prevent you from getting some jobs, from getting security clearance, from owning a gun. If you are an immigrant here on a work visa or family visa, you can be deported.
I’m Patrick Curran, a Fort Worth drug crimes defense attorney with more than 25 years of Texas criminal law experience. Before starting my own law practice, I was the supervisor for a D.A.’s office handling family violence cases for 2 years. As a defense attorney, I’ve helped clients by getting their charges dismissed, by getting them into diversion programs and by negotiating deferred adjudication probation. I offer a free initial consultation.
What are Your Options?
My first goal is to get your case dismissed. The District Attorney’s office has no written dismissal policy but some cases are dismissed immediately. If that doesn’t occur, my next goal is get the charges reduced to a Class C deferred ticket. This is not uncommon.
I’ve talked about the benefits of deferred adjudication on other pages on this website. Deferred adjudication is possible with assault and family violence charges, but it may not be the best of all possible options. It’s better than regular probation because it’s not a criminal conviction so you won’t have to acknowledge it on a job application, and your criminal record can be partially sealed if an order for non-disclosure is granted.
However, your criminal record is not fully sealed. Federal firearms laws still apply to you so you lose your right to possess a firearm, even in your own home, and if you offend again, you will face enhanced criminal charges.
Rather than deferred adjudication, it’s often better to get into a pretrial diversion program (the court calls this deferred disposition or deferred prosecution). If you successfully complete the program, the charges against you are dismissed. There are several Battering Intervention and Prevention Programs in Tarrant County, Texas.
You may be eligible for the Family Violence Diversion Program if:
- If you were charged with partner on partner violence
- Have no current or prior violations of a protective order and prior history of participation in a family violence diversion program
- Have no open warrants for your arrest and no other pending criminal charges
- You are committed to completing the program and
- The victim consents to your participation
You will not be eligible if you have an untreated psychiatric disorder or chemical addiction or have sexually abused a child.
The Youthful Offender Diversion Alternatives Program is for people 17 to 25 who have been arrested for assault against a family member (by blood, marriage or intimate relationship) such as a sibling or a parent. A young person would be eligible for the program if it was a first offense and they don’t have any other charges pending or convictions for felony crimes and are not on probation or parole for a crime.
The Tarrant County OBI WAN Program (Other Behavioral Interventions With Assault, Non-family)is also for first offenders ages 17 to 25, who have been charged with simple assault involving a person who is not a family member, such as a roommate. It has the same eligibility requirements as the Youthful Offender Diversion Alternatives program but the offender must also be attending school full time or employed full time.
Contact an Attorney
Successful completion of a pre-trial diversion program usually results in dismissal of the family violence charges and you will be eligible for expunction of the charges from your record. This means the charges are completely removed from your criminal history and there is no record of your arrest or prosecution.
Learn more about your defense and diversion options. Call my Fort Worth law office at (817) 714-5529 or contact me online to schedule a free initial consultation.