Anyone who is facing a domestic violence charge here in Harris County should know that the Texas courts take a serious view of the offense. As such, so should those who have been arrested for the crime.
Under the Texas Family Code, family violence is defined as acts by household or family members against other members of the household or family with an intent to cause bodily injury, assault, physical harm or threats that reasonably make the victim fear physical harm is imminent. Reasonably disciplining one’s own children is exempt from the law.
To better understand the situation you may find yourself facing, let’s review some statistics from a recent year.
What are the numbers?
In their crime report for 2013, the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) determined that there were 185,453 reported incidents involving some form of domestic violence in the state. This total reflected almost a 2 percent decline from the prior year.
Conversely, there was a slight uptick in the actual number of victims and alleged offenders, with the 199,752 victims increased by .6 percent and the 194,756 accused offenders rising only .2 percent from 2012.
As a major metropolitan city, Houston and the surrounding areas contributed heavily to the state totals, with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) reporting 12,197 domestic violence incidents during that year and the Houston Police Department (HPD) contributing 19,009.
Weapons used in the offense
The TDPS report found that in cases involving violence within the family, overwhelmingly, the “weapon” of choice was the offenders feet, fists and hands, which is otherwise reported as “strongarm.” In 80 percent of the reported incidents, this was the only weapon attributed to the alleged offender.
Other weapons reportedly used in domestic violence offenses during that year included:
- Cutting instruments, including knives – 4 percent
- Firearms – 2 percent
- Blunt objects – 2 percent
- Explosives, drugs, automobiles, fire, poison and additional miscellaneous or unknown items – 5 percent
However, under the Texas Family Violence law, intimidation and threats to alleged victims were considered to apply under the law. Thus, 7 percent of the incidents did not list any weapons used by the accused aggressor.
Are allegations enough for an arrest?
As you can see from the above paragraph, one doesn’t have to lift a finger to an alleged victim to still find oneself charged with domestic violence in Texas. While no person should ever have to live in fear of intimidation or threats, with no physical proof of violence, it can be very difficult to disprove a negative.
Essentially, these cases become a “he said, she said” situation, with the decision whether to arrest and charge an alleged aggressor largely left to the discretion of the responding officer(s) and the prosecutor. To avoid conviction on a fallacious charge of domestic abuse, it is imperative to devise a staunch defense to the offenses as soon as possible.