Domestic Violence

When violence occurs, it sometimes happens in the home between people who, at one time, loved each other. Amazingly, approximately 95 to 97 percent of the reported family violence cases involve male-on-female violence.

Because of the nature of violence within the family, these cases are often more difficult to prosecute. In many of these cases, the alleged victim will recant or change the story told to the police. For this reason, domestic violence assault cases are often funneled into special divisions where specially-trained prosecutors do nothing but prosecute these difficult types of cases. Prosecutors in these divisions are also trained on how to evaluate a request by the alleged victim to drop the charges and whether the case can be prosecuted without the alleged victim's full cooperation.

When false allegations are made, you also need an experienced criminal defense attorney to aggressively fight the allegations and protect your rights at every stage of the case. Don't wait. Call to find out what you need to do today to protect your rights.

Attorney for Domestic Violence Crimes in Fort Worth, TX

If you were charged with a felony or misdemeanor act of domestic violence assault, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy. We represent clients facing false or exaggerated charges of battering or abusing an intimate partner.

We also help clients served a family violence protective order issued by a court with civil jurisdiction that orders a person to refrain from committing family violence, threatening or harassing the victim, or going within a specified distance of their home or place of employment or another place such as a school or childcare facility.

Unlike a restraining order, which is enforceable only by civil contempt, a protective order is criminally enforceable and valid for up to two years. Violation of a protective order is a criminal offense and the Code of Criminal Procedure authorizes law enforcement officers to arrest violators without a warrant in some situations.

Call (817) 422-5350 today for a free consultation to discuss any crime of violence with an experienced criminal defense attorney at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy in Fort Worth, TX.


Definition of Intimate Partner Violence Assault in Tarrant County, TX

When domestic violence occurs between intimate partners, the offense is often classified as intimate partner violence (IPV). Violence against an intimate partner can involve a former or current husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend. Sometimes these accusations arise in a couple in a gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender relationship. The term "Intimate Partner Violence" (sometimes called "IPV") describes physical or sexual violence or stalking by a current or former partner of the victim.

Abuse in a domestic relationship can be physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological. The incidents of domestic violence tend to increase in frequency and severity over time. Unfortunately, false accusations are also common, especially then the individuals are going through a break-up, divorce, or legal battle over property or child custody. A domestic violence case or protective order should never be used as a shortcut for other legal remedies, such as a modification of a custody order, property division, or an eviction. In many ways, a false allegation of domestic violence is also a form of psychological abuse.

In some cases, a false allegation of domestic violence is made and a protective order is sought so that a person can stay in the United States when they would otherwise be subject to deportation. In these cases, the alleged victim can use the VAWA Reauthorization of 2013 Act to obtain a U-Visa which creates a huge incentive to make a false allegation of domestic violence.

A domestic violence case or protective order should never be used as a shortcut for other legal remedies, such as a modification of a custody order, property division, or an eviction. In many ways, a false allegation of domestic violence is also a form of psychological abuse.

Although misdemeanor assault is the most common charges, related charges can involve criminal trespass, child abuse, false imprisonment, stalking, cyberstalking, harassment, violation of a protective order, sexual assault, or aggravated family violence assault.


Can the Alleged Victim Drop the Charges in a Family Violence Case in Tarrant County?

For the Fort Worth Domestic Violence attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy, we often get calls from the alleged victim in a domestic violence case about how to "drop" the charges. Unlike other types of criminal cases, in a domestic violence case, the prosecutor takes a skeptical view of the victim's desires that the prosecution is terminated.

Before even considering such a request, the domestic violence prosecutors in Tarrant County will often request that the alleged victim attend a 4-hour SafeHaven's Alternatives Class. After the class, the District Attorney's office will allow the alleged victim to talk with the victim coordinator and sign a special form called an "Affidavit of Non-Prosecution."

The criminal defense attorney is also permitted to speak with the alleged victim about the allegations. When the evidence shows that the defendant is actually innocent or when there is mitigation in the case, the criminal defense attorney can also ask the alleged victim to simply write a letter explaining all of the reasons why the charges should be dropped.

If the alleged victim lied or made false statements to the law enforcement officer or the prosecutor's office, the alleged victim should retain their own attorney to help them through the process. Domestic violence assault allegations should never be used to gain an advantage in a divorce or child custody situation, but false allegations in those types of cases are all too common.


Determinations of Affinity or Consanguinity under Texas Law

Many criminal offenses related to domestic violence in Texas reference definitions in the Government Code related to the determination of affinity or the determination of consanguinity. To determine "affinity" the courts look to Section 573.024 which provides that two individuals are related to each other by affinity if:

  1. they are married to each other; or
  2. the spouse of one of the individuals is related by consanguinity to the other individual.

Section 573.24(b) provides that the ending of a marriage by divorce or the death of a spouse ends relationships by affinity created by that marriage unless a child of that marriage is living, in which case the marriage is considered to continue as long as a child of that marriage lives.

Under Section 573.022, two individuals are related to each other by consanguinity if:

  1. one is a descendant of the other; or
  2. they share a common ancestor.

For purposes of the statute defining consanguinity, an adopted child is considered to be a child of the adoptive parent for this purpose.


Felony Charges for Aggravated Family Violence

Although most domestic violence charges in Tarrant County, TX, are a misdemeanor, felony charges can occur when "aggravated assault" is alleged because either the defendant causes serious bodily injury to the victim or the defendant uses a deadly weapon during the assault.

For aggravated assault family violence, the prosecutor with the District Attorney's office must still provide that the victim has a relationship with the defendant that including:

  • a dating relationship;
  • a family relationship; or
  • a household relationship.

The term assault causing bodily injury is defined in Texas Penal Code §§ 22.01(a). Aggravated family violence assault is also defined in Section 22.02(b)to include an assault when defendant both uses a deadly weapon and causes serious bodily injury to family member, household member, or dating partner.

Although most of these charges are brought against men, women and even juveniles in the juvenile courts in Tarrant Count, TX, can be charged with aggravated assault family violence. 


Additional Resources

DA's Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Unit - In late 2016, Tarrant County Commissioners approved a new special unit designed to prosecuting felony IPV cases. The Felony IPV team includes five (5) full-time Assistant Criminal District Attorneys, two (2) Investigators and a support staff member. The Misdemeanor IPV Court which is currently, County Criminal Court Number 5, is focused on the prosecution of lower-level domestic violence offenses which are charged as misdemeanors. The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office Victim Assistance Coordinator is responsible for providing all victims of violent crimes with support until the case is turned over to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.

Assisting Victims of Domestic Violence in Tarrant County - Victims of domestic violence in Fort Worth and Tarrant County are also given information by the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office Victim Assistance Coordinator about the Crime Victims’ Compensation program offered through the Texas Attorney General’s Office. Crime Victims' Compensation is a financial assistance program that helps eligible victims of crime with certain expenses related to the crime. The funds for this program come from court costs paid by criminals and deposited by each Texas county into the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund. Crime Victims' Compensation is a financial assistance program that helps eligible victims of crime with certain expenses related to the crime. The funds for this program come from court costs paid by criminals and deposited by each Texas county into the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund. 

SafeHaven Domestic Violence Shelter - SafeHaven is an organization focused on providing support to the victims of domestic violence and ending abuse through social change, prevention, support, and safety. The organization defines the term “domestic violence” to mean a pattern of behavior that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. SafeHaven manages the largest domestic violence shelters in Tarrant County including a shelter in Arlington and Fort Worth. In 2015, the emergency shelters protected 664 women and 896 children. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 800-799-SAFE (7233) (24/7 crisis line).

Domestic Violence Task Force - The task force was created to determine the community best practice model for Domestic Violence Screening in local hospitals and clinics, Fort Worth Fire Department and MedStar, local EMS providers. The domestic violence task force developed training and a curriculum for nurses, physicians, and prehospital providers on how to identify red flags for domestic violence, how to screen and document signs of domestic violence, and finding local resources for victims in need. The task force he ld its first workshop for clergy at SafeHaven on September 10, 2013. 

Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) - Find statistics on the number of deaths that directly resulted from or were related to family violence incidents. Learn more about why the number of estimated intimate partner-related deaths rose in 2010.


This article was last updated on Friday, March 23, 2017.