From start to finish, fear dominates assault-family violence proceedings. Fear, in some way, usually sparks the arguments that lead to assault accusations. But that is only the beginning.
Prosecutors and judges are afraid as well. They are afraid that any given Assault FV case on the docket might turn out to be the case. That’s the case in which the court only administered light punishment and the abuser commits a heinous act against the victim. These cases are extremely rare, but the fear is extremely real.
So, Parker County prosecutors are very aggressive in these cases. Furthermore, most judges hand down stiff sentences. Furthermore, assault FV cases have significant collateral consequences. Because of all these things, it’s important that your attorney have a plan of action.
Assault FV Consequences
First-time assault is a Class A misdemeanor; a subsequent charge is a third-degree felony. Section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code gives prosecutors three ways to establish guilt:
· Causing bodily injury,
· Threatening bodily harm, or
· A provocative or threatening touch.
Most all assault FV prosecutions rely on that first pathway. Note that “bodily injury” means basically any bodily injury. A barely-visible scratch or red spot suffices.
In addition to fines, court supervision, and jail time, the direct consequences include forfeiture of firearms. Assault FV is basically the only misdemeanor which carries such a penalty. Moreover, assault FV convictions are usually ineligible for expungement.
There are also indirect consequences. An assault FV conviction could lead to separate child endangerment charges or similar state action against your children. Additionally, assault FV convictions often have a significant impact on current and future family law proceedings, such as divorces and modifications.
Dealing with Assault FV Charges
Once upon a time, a spouse could exercise an evidentiary privilege not to testify against the other spouse. But those days are gone and this defense is unavailable. But a related tactic is alive and well.
Police officers are essentially expert witnesses. These individuals receive training in this area, and they may testify in hundreds of hearings or trials every year. Furthermore, at least among many jurors, police officers enjoy enhanced standing.
But civilian witnesses are different. Generally, alleged victims have neither training nor experience. So, it is a little easier to attack their testimony from a legal standpoint. And, if the alleged victim’s testimony is shaky, there’s a good chance that at least one juror will develop a reasonable doubt.
Sometimes, prosecutors agree to reduce the charges to simple Class A assault or Class C ABC (assault by contact) cases. That’s especially true if the alleged victim is reluctant to testify or the alleged victim’s story is very shaky. Class C ABC may still have an “FV” designation, so an attorney must be very diligent in these situations.
Family violence assault is a serious crime that carries serious consequences. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Mr. Herreth is a former prosecutor who now fights for you.