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Domestic Violence

Houston Domestic Violence Attorney

Defending Those Who Have Been Accused of Domestic Violence in Harris County

Perhaps you had a disagreement with your spouse, are in the midst of a contentious child custody dispute, or are dealing with completely false claims of abuse by your romantic partner. Suddenly, you find yourself under arrest and faced with the possibility of domestic violence charges.

These are extremely serious matters that require professional legal help.

At the Law Offices of Jed Silverman, we represent individuals accused of misdemeanor and felony domestic violence in Houston and Harris County. Our domestic violence lawyers in Houston have helped our clients secure case dismissals, reduced penalties, reduced jail time, and deferred judgments where charges are dismissed.

Are you facing charges of family violence in TX? Call the Law Offices of Jed Silverman today at  (713) 597-2221 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our Houston domestic violence lawyers.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence / Family Violence in Texas?

According to Texas Family Code, Chapter 71.004, "Family violence" means:

  • (1)  an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself;
  • (2)  abuse (defined by Sections 261.001) by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household; or
  • (3)  dating violence (defined by Section 71.0021)

Who Can Be Charged With Domestic Violence Offenses?

According to Section 71.003, someone can be charged with domestic violence offenses in Texas if they are a member of a family or household. The law defines "family" broadly to include:

  • Relatives by blood (consanguinity) or marriage (affinity)
  • Current or former spouses
  • Biological parents of the same child
  • Children of a current or former spouse
  • Foster children and parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents and grandchildren
  • Individuals in a dating relationship
  • Members or former members of the same household, including roommates regardless of gender

Police responding to a domestic violence call may be motivated to arrest someone quickly in an effort to separate the alleged victim and attacker. The arrest is often followed by a restraining order, which can keep the individual out of their home and away from their children until the order is lifted.

Arguments between loved ones sometimes lead to bad behavior and even unintentional injuries, but this alone does not necessarily constitute the crime of domestic violence. Sometimes the alleged victim is the one who initiated the violence, meaning the "attacker" was only acting in self-defense.

Can You Be Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence in Texas?

Sometimes an accusation of domestic violence is just plain false. False charges may be made out of jealousy or anger or in an attempt to secure an advantage in a divorce or custody battle. Whatever the situation, it is critical for the defendant to have a chance to tell their side of the story in court.

People are arrested for domestic violence in Texas every day. Unfortunately, this can have life-changing consequences. Even if the charges are untrue, the arrest alone can have a negative impact on a person's reputation and standing in the community.

Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Dropped in TX? 

Contrary to common belief, the victim does not have the authority to drop domestic violence charges once they have been filed. While the victim's perspective is considered, the decision to prosecute lies within the jurisdiction of the state prosecutor. 

Here are some key points to understand:

  • State Prosecution: In Texas, domestic violence cases are prosecuted by the state. This means that even if the victim decides they do not want to pursue the charges, the prosecutor can still move forward with the case based on the evidence available.
  • Evidence-Based Prosecution: Prosecutors may rely on various types of evidence besides the victim's testimony, such as police reports, medical records, witness statements, and any physical evidence from the scene. This approach helps ensure that justice is served, regardless of the victim's cooperation.
  • Victim Impact Statement: Victims can provide a statement expressing their wishes regarding the prosecution. While this statement is taken into consideration, it is ultimately up to the prosecutor to decide whether to continue with the case.

Several factors can influence whether domestic violence charges may be dropped or reduced:

  • Insufficient Evidence: If the prosecutor determines there is not enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, they may decide to drop the charges.
  • Recantation by the Victim: If the victim recants their statement or refuses to testify, it can impact the prosecution's case. However, prosecutors often proceed with the evidence at hand, especially if they believe the recantation is due to coercion or fear.
  • Plea Bargains: In some cases, the defense lawyer and the prosecutor may negotiate a plea bargain, resulting in reduced charges or alternative sentencing options.
  • First-Time Offenders: For first-time offenders, the court may consider alternative resolutions, such as counseling or probation, instead of imprisonment.

Is Domestic Violence a Misdemeanor or a Felony in TX?

Depending on the severity of the alleged assault and whether the accused has prior charges, domestic violence may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Below are the possible penalties for each.

Misdemeanor Domestic Violence in Texas

Misdemeanor domestic violence charges typically apply in cases involving first-time offenders. Even in these cases, a defendant may face the following penalties:

  • Up to 1 year in a prison
  • A fine of up to $4,000
  • The loss of the right to possess firearms
  • Problems with employment, housing, and personal problems caused by having a criminal record

Felony Domestic Violence in Texas

In Texas, felony domestic violence charges may apply to second or third offenders or to incidents involving choking. A defendant facing a felony domestic violence charge may face the following:

  • 2-10 years in prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Loss of voting privilege
  • Loss of the right to own a firearm
  • Loss of the ability to serve in the military or hold a job requiring the use of a gun
  • Loss of adoption rights

Defenses to Domestic Violence in TX

Facing domestic violence charges in Texas can have serious implications, including potential jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record. However, there are several defenses that an experienced attorney can use to challenge these charges. 

Here are some common defenses to domestic violence in Texas:


One of the most frequently used defenses is self-defense. If you can demonstrate that you used reasonable force to protect yourself from imminent harm, you may be able to avoid a conviction. Key elements include:

  • Imminent Threat: Proving that you were facing an immediate threat of harm.
  • Proportional Response: Showing that the force used was proportional to the threat faced.

Defense of Others

Similar to self-defense, this defense applies if you were acting to protect someone else who was in imminent danger. For example, intervening to prevent harm to a child or another family member.

False Allegations

In some cases, domestic violence accusations are made falsely, often out of anger, jealousy, revenge, or during contentious divorce or custody battles. Evidence such as text messages, emails, witness statements, or inconsistencies in the accuser's story can help to establish false allegations.

Lack of Evidence

The burden of proof lies with the prosecution, which must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can scrutinize the evidence presented by the prosecution and argue that it is insufficient to sustain a conviction. This could involve questioning the credibility of witnesses or challenging the reliability of physical evidence.

Inconsistencies in the Accuser's Testimony

If there are significant inconsistencies in the accuser's statements or testimony, it can undermine their credibility. An attorney can highlight these discrepancies to cast doubt on the prosecution's case.

Accidental Injury

Sometimes injuries occur accidentally and are not the result of intentional harm. Demonstrating that the alleged victim's injuries were accidental can be a valid defense. This might involve showing that the injuries occurred during a mutual struggle or explaining how they happened without any intent to cause harm.

Mutual Combat

If both parties were engaged in mutual combat or a physical altercation, it might be possible to argue that you should not be solely responsible for the incident. This defense can be complex and typically requires corroborative evidence.


An alibi defense involves proving that you were not present at the scene when the alleged domestic violence occurred. Providing evidence such as witness testimonies, surveillance footage, or other documentation can support this defense.

Penalties for a Second Domestic Violence Conviction in TX

A second conviction for domestic violence is considered a third-degree felony. If convicted, penalties can include two to 10 years in prison and hefty fines. The manner and means can involve anything from hitting to slapping to choking — virtually any action that involves physical violence.

Understanding Your Legal Rights in Texas Domestic Violence Cases

When facing allegations of domestic violence, it's important to understand your legal rights and options. Our experienced Houston domestic violence attorney can provide you with the guidance and representation you need to navigate the legal process and protect your rights.

Our legal team can help you with:

  • Explaining the charges against you and the potential consequences
  • Developing a strong defense strategy tailored to your specific case
  • Negotiating with prosecutors for reduced charges or alternative sentencing options
  • Representing you in court and advocating for your best interests

Don't navigate the complexities of domestic violence charges alone. Contact our law firm today to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal options.

Contact Our Houston Domestic Violence Lawyer Today

Any case involving family and romantic relationships has the potential to be highly sensitive and complex. Make sure you have experience on your side. Our founding attorney has more than 20 years of experience in criminal defense and our associate attorney has an extensive background in the criminal justice system to offer insight on the other side of domestic violence proceedings.

Have you been charged with family violence in Houston? Don't wait to get started on your defense. Call our Houston domestic violence attorneys at The Law Offices of Jed Silverman today at (713) 597-2221 or contact us online to set up a consultation.

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