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Family violence murders up, domestic violence incidents down

The Austin Police Department reported eight murders related to family violence in 2012. This was two more than occurred in 2011. Statewide in Texas, 150 women died at the hands of their domestic partners in 2010 while the total number of domestic violence incidents throughout the state decreased from 2010 to 2011.

A domestic violence conviction can have serious consequences for an individual. The penalties imposed by a judge at sentencing can be a period of incarceration in jail or state prison, fines and probation. A temporary restraining order or a protective order issued by a court can prevent a person from return home or being around other family members.

In the community, a person with a criminal record that includes a conviction of domestic violence charges may have difficulty finding employment or housing. A damaged reputation from a domestic violence conviction can have negative consequences long after the sentence a judge imposes has ended.

A person should not take an arrest on domestic violence charges lightly; both law enforcement and prosecutors take domestic violence allegations seriously. Some police agencies have specially trained police officers and investigators assigned to handle family violence complaints, and district attorneys throughout the state aggressively prosecute domestic violence charges.

A criminal defense attorney with experience defending domestic violence charges might be able to help a person who has been arrested and charged. Because the incidents frequently occur in private with no witnesses other than the accused and the victim, domestic assault charges could be based on false allegations. A defense strategy in a family violence case might call for a thorough investigation in an effort to challenge the credibility of the victim or other witnesses and the accuracy of their accounts of the incident.

Source: KXAN, "Domestic violence murders up in Austin," John Bumgardner, Jan. 4, 2013

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