R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Domestic violence registry passed in Texas

The Texas House of Representatives passed House Bill 21, which creates a domestic violence registry that will look like the one used for the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program. Once Bill 21 goes into effect, a person convicted of domestic violence at least three times will have to register as a repeat offender. For a registered offender, the state will place the name of the individual online. Along with the name will be the birth date and recent photograph. Anyone will be able to view the information for free.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, there were 177,983 reported family violence incidents in the state during 2011. The state defines domestic violence an act by a person in a household that causes physical harm, bodily injury or a threat of harm to another family member. The act also includes assault and sexual assault. Domestic violence does not include any self-defense measures to protect oneself from physical harm, bodily injury or an imminent battery from a family member. A domestic violence conviction is considered a guilty verdict, no contest plea or guilty plea.

Rep. Jason Villalba, who co-authored the House Bill 21, says domestic violence is a growing problem with tragic consequences such as fatalities. According to Rep. Villalba, establishing a domestic violence registry gives people the tools to prevent potential abuse from happening to them. Also, the registry gives them the ability to make informed decisions about people.

Domestic violence is a problem in Texas and around the country. However, the new registry does not eliminate anyone's right to prove their innocence when charged with domestic violence. An experienced lawyer may be able to help someone charged with domestic violence to understand their options and rights.

Source: CBS DFW, "Texas House Passes Domestic Violence Registry Legislation", May 10, 2013

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