Articles Posted in Family Violence

Facing criminal charges can be overwhelming, especially when the aftermath involves not just legal consequences but also financial burdens. Texas criminal courts are allowed to issue restitution orders to victims of criminal cases, and the payments must be made as part of a defendant’s criminal case. Criminal restitution can exist in addition to civil liability for actions related to a criminal offense. In a recent Texas case, a defendant found himself ordered to pay restitution for damages resulting from a car accident, raising questions about the fairness of such rulings. This blog post delves into the intricacies of restitution in Texas criminal cases and highlights the need for a vigilant defense against potentially unjust financial burdens.

According to the facts discussed in the recently published judicial opinion, the case involved a collision where the defendant damaged a utility pole and an antique truck. While convicted of failure to perform a duty to provide information after the accident, the defendant was ordered to pay restitution for damages caused by the accident. The key question at hand is whether restitution can be ordered for an offense that did not directly cause the damage. The lower court entered a restitution ruling against the defendant, leading him to appeal.

The appellate court saw things differently than the trial court, and agreed with the defendant’s arguments that the restitution order was not appropriate. The defendant was convicted of failure to comply with duties after an accident, not for causing the damage to the utility pole and truck. The court noted that Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which governs the imposition of restitution. It emphasizes the statutory references requiring a direct connection between the offense and the damage caused. The analysis underscores that the criminal offense must be the cause of the damage for restitution to be justified.

For some criminal prosecutions, the government will go to great lengths to influence a jury to convict a defendant. Prosecutors will often retain and call expert witnesses to testify in support of a guilty verdict. Expert testimony is not always permitted, though when experts are allowed to testify on the state’s behalf, their testimony can significantly harm a defendant’s defense. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently released a decision that sheds light on their qualifications and the admissibility of their testimony.

According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the defendant was charged with a Texas domestic violence offense. At trial, the prosecution sought to prove the elements of an aggravated offense, and the defendant was sentenced to five years in prison. The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the state inappropriately used an expert witness who unfairly influenced the jury to convict him of the aggravated offense.

On appeal, the Court found that Rule of Evidence 702, which governs the admissibility of expert testimony, plays a pivotal role in determining whether an expert witness’s testimony will be considered in court. Under this rule, three conditions must be met before expert testimony becomes admissible: qualification, reliability, and relevance.

The statements of the accused often play a pivotal role in criminal cases, especially those involving family violence. Depending on the content of the statement, it can either bolster the prosecution’s case or provide a strong defense for the accused. A well-crafted statement that establishes a reasonable doubt or challenges the credibility of the alleged victim’s testimony can significantly impact the outcome of the case. Conversely, a statement that admits guilt or contains incriminating statements can strengthen the prosecution’s case against the defendant.

Criteria for Admissibility of a Defendant’s Statement in Texas

For a defendant’s statement to be admissible in court, it must meet specific criteria as outlined by Texas law. The following factors are considered when determining the admissibility of a defendant’s statement:

Domestic violence is a serious crime, and the mere mention of domestic violence charges being filed against you can change your life. When someone is accused of domestic violence, the evidence presented in court can play a crucial role in determining their guilt or innocence. Statements to police or detectives by the accused often play a major role in these cases. However, not all statements are admissible in court. In this article, we will explore the criteria for when a defendant’s statement is admissible in a Texas domestic violence case, as well as the process of challenging its admissibility.

Understanding Domestic Violence Laws in Texas

Before delving into the admissibility of a defendant’s statement, it’s important to first understand the domestic violence laws in Texas. According to the Texas Penal Code, domestic violence, also known as domestic assault, occurs when an individual intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to a family member, household member, or current or former romantic partner. The law encompasses a wide range of behaviors, including physical violence, threats of harm, and emotional abuse.

Definition of Domestic Violence in Texas

The definition of domestic violence in Texas is broad and covers various types of relationships. Under the law, family members include spouses, former spouses, parents, children, foster parents, and foster children. Household members are individuals who live together in the same household, such as roommates. Additionally, individuals who are or were in a dating relationship, including individuals of the same sex, are also protected under the domestic violence laws in Texas.

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In the legal landscape of Texas, the question of whether children can testify in a criminal case is an important one. Children’s brains are still developing and they don’t always have a firm a grasp on the difference between the truth and a lie. Not only that, but some children may not understand the importance of being truthful, even if they know the difference. And, of course, there is always the very real possibility that an interested adult influences a child’s testimony. Needless to say, the ability of a child to provide testimony can significantly impact the outcome of a case, so it is crucial to understand the laws and processes involved.

Understanding the Legal Age of Testimony in Texas

When it comes to testifying in a criminal case, the age of the child plays a significant role. In Texas, there is no specific age requirement for a child to testify. Rather, the criterion for determining a child’s competency to testify is their ability to understand and answer questions truthfully.

Testifying in court can be a daunting experience for anyone, let alone a child. Therefore, the Texas legal system takes into account various factors when deciding whether a child is capable of providing reliable testimony. One such factor is the child’s intellectual capacity. The court assesses whether the child possesses the cognitive abilities necessary to comprehend and respond to questions accurately.

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In a recent Texas criminal case, the State petitioned the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas after a ruling from the Eleventh Court of Appeals found that the Appellant in a criminal case was entitled to a concurrent causation jury instruction, reversing in part a judgment by the trial court. The Appellant was convicted by a jury and sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment under Texas Penal Code § 22.04 for recklessly, by omission, causing serious bodily injury to her child and failing to protect her child from being struck against a hard surface by her husband and subsequently failing to provide medical care.

Facts of the Case

On June 29, 2013, the Appellant was in the kitchen of her family home in Denver City, Texas, when her husband began to choke and shout expletives at their youngest child. The couple’s older daughter testified that the Appellant subsequently entered the room and instructed her husband to “stop hurting the baby.” Later that night, the Appellant noticed that the youngest child was experiencing seizure-like symptoms and called her mother-in-law, who was a retired nurse, to ask for advice. The mother-in-law instructed the Appellant to give the youngest child a Tylenol and continue monitoring her. The next day, the child began to exhibit seizure-like symptoms again, so the couple decided to bring her to Covenant Hospital in Lubbock instead of the local hospital in Denver City. While the Appellant originally told investigators that they drove nearly an hour to Lubbock because they did not trust the doctors in Denver City, later testimony revealed the decision was made to avoid Child Protective Services (CPS).

At the hospital, it became apparent that the child’s injuries had resulted from non-accidental abuse, and the staff contacted CPS and the Lubbock Police Department to coordinate an investigation. Based on the police investigation and medical findings regarding the injury, both the parents were arrested and charged under Texas Penal Code § 22.04. At trial, the Appellant was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment. On direct appeal, she raised two grounds for review: (1) the trial court erred when it refused to instruct the jury on concurrent causation, and (2) the evidence at trial was legally insufficient to support a conviction under § 22.04 of the Texas Penal Code. The appellate court sustained the Appellant’s first issue, reversing the judgment of the trial court. On the second issue, the appellate court ruled that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient, to find both Appellant’s omissions caused serious bodily injury to the child beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Criminal, statutes in Texas and nationwide have long included specific provisions to address domestic violence offenses. Early statutes were only able to protect spouses from the alleged abuse, but the laws have developed in a way that now includes cohabitating parents, and even dating partners who do not live together and share no children. The recent expansion of the definition of domestic violence under federal law to include “dating violence” may affect the civil rights of Texans who have been accused of domestic violence offenses. More specifically, a conviction may mean that you are prevented from legally owning a gun, despite your Second Amendment rights.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. The Constitution protects the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms. Although many challenges to the Second Amendment have failed over the years, the U.S. The Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government can restrict people who have been convicted of a domestic violence offense from owning firearms. Congress passed such a law in 1968, and it has been used to keep firearms out of the hands of those who have committed domestic violence. Over the years, courts have upheld this restriction on gun ownership, finding that it is a reasonable interpretation of the Second Amendment.

As the definition of domestic violence has expanded under both Texas and Federal law, the application of the federal law restricting gun ownership has become broader. Cases that in the past would not have qualified for a firearm restriction are now serving as the basis of a restriction. The federal law that restricts gun ownership is applied automatically to any person convicted of a state-level domestic violence offense or who is subject to a domestic violence-related protective order.

Recently, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas issued an important decision holding the state’s stalking statute unconstitutional. While lawmakers are responsible for writing and passing laws, courts must interpret the laws as they are written. However, courts are also the final arbiter in determining whether a law is constitutional. While most laws pass constitutional muster, some do not, as evidenced by the court’s recent decision.

The Facts of the Case

The defendant in the case was arrested and charged with felony stalking for conduct taking place between January 1, 2007, and April 24, 2018. More specifically, the complaint alleged that the defendant engaged in conduct that caused the complaining witness “to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended” and “would cause a reasonable person to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended.” Evidently, the defendant posted comments on social media and made other public statements that the complaining witness considered threatening.

At the time, the Texas stalking statute made it a crime to commit more than one act of “electronic-communications harassment” under § 42.07. That statute provides that a person repeatedly sends “electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another.” Thus, the stalking statute directly references the harassment statute, making it a stalking offense to engage in a continued course of harassment.

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What happens if you are facing a criminal charge for assault family violence, while you are getting divorced? Our law firm handles both criminal defense, and family law matters. We have seen cases in which one party, let’s say the Husband, is charged with family violence against his Wife, and a divorce is pending.

The first issue that’s going to come up is usually a protective order. If Husband was arrested for assault family violence, then often the judge (magistrate) who sets his bond will issue an emergency order of protection. This order will often forbid the defendant (in our case, Husband) from many things including returning to the residence, threatening the Victim (complaining witness), or possessing a firearm. If you are getting divorced this will essentially ban a defendant from accessing the marital residence.

If you have been arrested and are facing a divorce with a protective order you will want to see understand what options you have to challenge the protective order and to challenge a finding of family violence being entered.

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