R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Penalties increasing under proposed family violence bills

If four proposals make it through the Texas legislature, family violence offenders will face increased penalties, including mandatory incarceration. One of the bills proposes the creation of a domestic violence registry for repeat domestic violence offenders. Patterned after the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program, a third family violence conviction would include mandatory registration as a family violence offender.

Under the provisions of one of the bills, a third domestic assault charge would be elevated to a second-degree felony. The bill also imposes a two-year minimum if a court sentences the offender to prison. Parole would not be available until the person served at least half the prison sentence.

Another of the proposals creates mandatory incarceration for repeat violations of protective orders. The bill also creates mandatory minimum jail sentences for offenders who are sentenced probation supervision. Under the proposed legislation, a person sentenced to probation for a conviction of domestic assault or a protective order violation would serve at least 72 hours in jail. Aggravated assault convictions would require a 30-day minimum period of incarceration.

Repeat violators of protective orders could be charged with a third-degree felony if a second violation occurs within 12 months of a first violation that is still pending in court. The penalty for such a violation could be up to ten years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

A person who is facing allegations of family violence might benefit from the knowledge and experience of a criminal defense attorney. Allegations of domestic violence expose the accused to a damaged reputation and court-imposed penalties in the event of a conviction. With the serious consequences that the proposed legislation seeks to add to the penalties already in place, the services of a criminal defense attorney might become more important than ever.

Source: Cypress Creek Mirror, "Legislature: Four bills introduced to combat domestic violence in Texas," March 07, 2013

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