Relationship Evidence in Family Violence Cases- CCP 38.371

If you are facing a trial for an assault family violence case you should be aware that evidence regarding the relationship between the parties may be admissible. This can be powerful evidence for the State or the Defendant depending on the nature of the relationship, and your lawyer should be ready to use this evidence or defend against it.

What’s the law on relationship evidence in family violence cases? 

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 38.371 allows evidence that “testimony or evidence regarding the nature of the relationship between the actor and the alleged victim”. This is “subject to the Texas Rules of Evidence”, so there are still some rules about what comes in, but think of a relationship and the dynamic between two people. Is there a history of violence? Substance abuse? Lying? Cheating? Emotional abuse? These are all areas where you could find either a motive for an assault or a history of aggressive behavior for the Defendant. Or the defense could present a motive to fabricate a claim or a history of violent behavior by the complaining witness.

For example, the State can use this “nature of the relationship” evidence to show why a complaining witness would later recant a statement to the police. Gonzalez v. State 541 S.W.3d 306, 312 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2017, no pet.)

If you are meeting with a lawyer on a family violence case, you should be prepared to discuss the history of the relationship. Including any issues that could be used against you, like prior allegations of family violence, other incidents in which the police have come to your residence, threats (verbal/text/email) made by either party.

If you are facing a family violence case in Kaufman, Rockwall, Dallas, or Collin County call the Family Violence Defense Lawyers at Guest and Gray. We offer free consultations in all family violence cases.

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