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Family Violence

Criminal charges of violence that are alleged to take place among people with certain family and dating relationships are accompanied by protective orders, according to Texas Family Code, Title 4. These protective orders, often called no-contact orders or restraining orders, can have a profound effect on the life of the accused.

Additionally, some of these domestic violence-related offenses carry greater penalties if they occur between people who are in family or dating relationships. Domestic violence is a hot topic issue throughout the country right now, and accusations should be taken seriously. They can have an effect on child custody matters.

San Antonio Domestic Violence Lawyer

At Goldstein, Goldstein & Hilley, our attorneys have significant experience in dealing with difficult cases. We have been representing defendants in criminal matters for 40 years in San Antonio and throughout Texas. We are prepared to fight your domestic violence accusations and represent you in any other related matters, such as protective order hearings.

If you’ve been accused of any type of abuse against a family member or person you are dating, immediately call us at 210-226-1463. Our attorneys understand the sensitivity of your situation and will handle your case with utmost importance. Your first telephone consultation is free.


Texas Domestic Violence Information


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In What Kind of Relationships Can Family Violence Occur?

Family violence law in Texas covers accusations of abuse between people related by “consanguinity or affinity.” Consanguinity, or related by blood, includes the relationship between:

  • Parent and child
  • Grandparent and grandchild
  • Brother and sister
  • Aunt or uncle and niece or nephew

Affinity includes people with whom the accused is in a relationship by marriage. This includes spouses and people who are related by consanguinity to a spouse. The law also covers former spouses, people who have a child together whether or not they are or have been married and people whose relationship are through the foster care system.

Chapter 71 also defines dating violence as family violence. Dating violence is defined as when certain violent acts occur between people who are or have been in a “dating relationship,” meaning a continuing romantic or intimate relationship. The length and nature of the relationship, as well as the frequency and type of interactions experienced, are considered when determining whether a dating relationship exists.


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Is Child Abuse Considered Family Violence?

Child abuse also can be considered a form of family violence under sec. 71.004 of the Texas Family Code. Chapter 71 utilizes the civil Family Code definition of abuse, found in Chapter 261, not the criminal charges defined by Texas Penal Code sec. 22.04.

The Family Code definition is broader than the Penal Code definition. While a purported act that falls under the Family Code’s description may result in a protective order, only an allegation of an act that meets the description in the Penal Code will result in criminal charges.

Injury to a child is a crime defined as an act of intentionally, knowingly or recklessly by criminal negligence causing:

  • Serious bodily injury
  • Serious mental deficiency, impairment or injury
  • Bodily injury

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Is Sexual Abuse a Form of Family Violence?

Charges of sexual assault of a child or indecency with a child made against an adult family member are frequently referred to as sexual abuse or sexual molestation.

Indecency with a child, defined in Texas Penal Code sec. 21.11, includes allegations that a person made sexual contact with a child younger than 17. Sexual contact is defined as, with the intent to arouse or gratify sexual desire:

  • Touching a child’s anus, breast or genitals (including through the clothing)
  • Causing a child to touch the accused’s anus, breast or genitals
  • Exposing the anus or genitals to a child
  • Causing a child to expose his or her anus or genitals

Sexual assault involves the actual penetration of the genitals, mouth or anus by any means. If the victim is younger than 14, then the offense is aggravated sexual assault. A child cannot consent to any sexual contact under Texas law.

If a spouse does not consent to sex, or if sex involves duress, threats or force, a person may face charges of sexual assault. This is often called “marital rape” or “spousal rape.”

For either sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 38.07 holds that a person may be convicted based on the testimony of the victim alone if the victim informs another person of the allegation within a year.

If at the time of the alleged offense, the person is younger than 17, older than 65 or had a mental disease, defect or injury, then the person did not have to tell another person for his or her testimony to secure a conviction by itself.


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What Kind of Charges Exist Only in Family Violence Settings?

Some charges only occur in a domestic setting. These charges include:

  • Assault by Strangulation (on the criminal docket in Bexar County as “ASSAULT-FAMILY-CHOKING”):  Under Texas Penal Code sec. 22.01(b)(2)(B), if the accused applied pressure against a family member’s throat or blocked his or her nose or mouth, it is a third-degree felony, or a second-degree felony upon a second or subsequent offense.
  • Second or Subsequent Domestic Assault (on the criminal docket as “ASSAULT-FAMILY-2ND OFFENSE”): If an assault against a family member comes after a prior conviction, the charges will increase to a third-degree felony.
  • Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon or Serious Bodily Injury Against Family Member (on the criminal docket as “AGG ASSLT WDW&SBI-FAM/DATING”): An assault with a deadly weapon or involving serious bodily injury is a first-degree felony.

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What are Some of the Most Common Domestic Violence Charges?

  • Assault (Texas Penal Code sec. 22.01)
  • Terroristic Threats (Texas Penal Code sec. 22.07)
  • Stalking (Texas Penal Code sec. 42.072)
  • Interferences with an Emergency Call (Texas Penal Code sec. 42.062)

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What is a Protective Order?

If making an accusation of anything meeting the definition of family violence under Chapter 71 of the Texas Family Code, the complainant may seek a protective order against the accused. If filing a criminal complaint, the Bexar County District Attorney will assist the victim.

When the complainant files, the Sheriff will serve an order to appear and a temporary ex parte order. The temporary order may last up to two weeks when a hearing will be held for a permanent order. The hearing will be held at the Bexar County Family Justice Center.

While the accused may not be represented in the temporary order, he or she may have an attorney at the hearing for a permanent order. A permanent order may last up to two years.


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Resources for Domestic and Family Violence

Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc. - The mission of Family Violence Prevention Services Inc. in San Antonio is to break the cycle of violence and to strengthen families by providing the necessary tools for self-sufficiency, such as emergency shelter, transitional housing and other necessities.

Victims Services Offered by SAPD - The San Antonio Police Department offers a variety of services to victims in need, including information about domestic and family violence and local resources to help victims.

Bexar County Family Justice Center - The Bexar County Family Justice Center provides services and resources necessary to assist victims of domestic violence and their families in one centralized location.

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence - The NRCDV has been a comprehensive source of information for those wanting to educate themselves and help others on the many issues related to domestic violence since 1993.


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Finding A Bexar County Family Violence Attorney

Family violence accusations can have a broad impact on the accused’s life. If you face charges or are being investigated for domestic violence in San Antonio or the surrounding area, call a skilled attorney immediately. Contact Goldstein, Goldstein & Hilley at 210-226-1463 for a free telephone consultation.

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