Family or household member, abuse, and dating violence all have specific definitions under Texas state law. Crimes involving family violence (more commonly referred to as domestic violence) are serious because arrests and convictions can have profound impacts on the rights of the individuals involved.
Texas Family Code § 71.004 defines the phrase family violence as meaning:
- an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself;
- abuse by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household; or
- dating violence.
If you were arrested for any kind of family violence offense in Harris County, it is in your best interest to say absolutely nothing to authorities until you have legal representation. Our criminal defense lawyers in Houston will work tirelessly to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case that results in the fewest possible consequences. You can have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (832) 530-4070 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Family Violence in Harris County
- Types of Family Violence Crimes in Texas
- Family Violence Definitions in Texas
- Harris County Family Violence Resources
Types of Family Violence Issues in Texas
The Gonzalez Law Group handles many different kinds of criminal cases involving family violence. Some of the most common include:
- Domestic Violence
- Continuous Violence Against the Family
- Child Endangerment
- Protective Orders
Family Violence Definitions in Texas
Family violence is usually thought of as being against a family member or household member. The Texas Family Code defines the term family as including:
- Individuals related by consanguinity (blood relatives) or affinity (they are married to each other or the spouse of one of the individuals is related by consanguinity to the other individual);
- Individuals who are former spouses of each other;
- Individuals who are the parents of the same child, without regard to marriage; and
- A foster child and foster parent, without regard to whether those individuals reside together.
A household is defined as a unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, without regard to whether they are related to each other. Under Texas Family Code § 71.006, member of a household includes a person who previously lived in a household.
Child abuse is a serious issue that includes several different types of scenarios. Child abuse, as used in the definition of family violence, refers to:
- Physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm;
- Sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare, including conduct that constitutes the offense of continuous sexual abuse of young child or children, indecency with a child, sexual assault, or aggravated sexual assault;
- Compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct, including compelling or encouraging the child in a manner that constitutes an offense of trafficking of persons, prostitution, or compelling prostitution;
- Causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the photographing, filming, or depicting of the child if the person knew or should have known that the resulting photograph, film, or depiction of the child is obscene or pornographic;
- The current use by a person of a controlled substance in a manner or to the extent that the use results in physical, mental, or emotional injury to a child;
- Causing, expressly permitting, or encouraging a child to use a controlled substance;
- Causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing a sexual performance by a child;
- Forcing or coercing a child to enter into a marriage.
Dating violence is a type of family violence that does not require family members. Dating violence is defined in Texas as an act, other than a defensive measure to protect oneself, by an alleged offender that:
- is committed against a victim or applicant for a protective order with whom the alleged offender has or has had a dating relationship or because of the alleged victim’s or applicant’s marriage to or dating relationship with an individual with whom the alleged offender is or has been in a dating relationship or marriage; and
- is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the victim or applicant in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault.
A dating relationship is defined as a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship is determined based on consideration of:
- the length of the relationship;
- the nature of the relationship; and
- the frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
Harris County Family Violence Resources
Family Violence Unit | Family Violence Services | City of Houston — The Family Violence Unit investigates family violence incidents and presents cases to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for charges. Visit this website to learn more about Family Violence Unit programs. You can also find Family Violence Unit offices in Downtown Houston as well as the north, south, and west sides of the city.
Houston Police Department
1200 Travis St.
Houston, TX 77002
Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council — The mission statement of the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council reads that it “works to increase community collaboration in order to maximize resources to reduce and prevent domestic violence in Harris County.” Visit this website to find local crisis centers and shelters, hotlines, and counseling services. You can also find a calendar of upcoming events.
Contact a Family Violence Defense Lawyer in Houston, TX
Were you arrested or do you think that you might be under investigation for a crime of domestic violence in Southeast Texas? You should not speak to authorities without first contacting The Gonzalez Law Group. Our Houston criminal defense attorneys represent individuals in the greater Harris County area including Pearland, Baytown, Seabrook, La Porte, Pasadena, Galena Park, Friendswood and many others. Call (832) 530-4070 or submit an online contact form to have our lawyers review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free initial consultation.