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What are the penalties for domestic violence in Texas?

The criminal penalties that can be assessed on a perpetrator who commits acts of domestic violence in Texas can range from a monetary fine to a significant prison sentence. If convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, such an individual would face a fine as high as $500. Conviction for a second-degree felony, however, could result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

A person who acted intentionally, knowingly or recklessly to cause bodily injury to a member of their family can normally expect to be handed a Class A misdemeanor charge. The charge could become more or less severe based on information about the victim, the type of violence that occurred and other circumstances involved in the incident.

An important factor that a judge might consider when sentencing a person who has been convicted of committing an act of domestic violence is the defendant's prior record. If the individual had no past convictions, the sentence may be relatively light compared to someone with a record of repeated domestic violence incidents. The severity of the sentence will also be influenced by the relationship of the defendant to the victim and whether or not suffocation or strangulation was part of the incident in question.

Accusations of domestic violence can greatly complicate divorce proceedings and child custody disputes. Although the criminal penalties are harsh, they often fail to act as a deterrent, and thus it is often advisable to obtain a protective order that would prevent future incients from occurring. A person who is going through a divorce in which allegations of family violence are an issue may want to seek the advice and counsel of a family law attorney.

Source: Findlaw, "Texas Domestic Violence Laws", November 04, 2014

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