Charges for domestic violence tend to tear apart families and ruin reputations. Typically when you are accused of domestic violence in Texas, police are immediately dispatched to the location. The spouses are separated and each statement is taken. At this point, an officer will either arrest you or send you away from the house and encourage your spouse to file a restraining order. However, if you are arrested, this becomes a very serious issue and could change your whole future.
Family violence charges can have legal consequences that vary in severity depending on the circumstances. Additionally, a domestic violence charge can cost you thousands of dollars in fines, determine custody of children, have your right to bear arms taken away and can land you a permanent criminal record.
What if My Spouse Doesn’t Want to Press Charges?
Often times, the accuser of a domestic violence case will later refuse to press charges or tell the district attorney to drop them. A misdemeanor charge could send you to jail for one year, but a felony domestic violence penalty could be up to 99 years. Moreover, once the accusation, arrest or order to appear in court has been made, it’s no longer up to the accuser on whether to press charges. It is the district attorney’s decision, acting on behalf of the state, as to whether to prosecute.
At this point, a prosecutor will review the evidence, police reports and witness statements to determine what happens next. If there is unreliable evidence, uncooperative witnesses (like an accuser that has changed his or her mind) or a fundamental failure that makes it impossible to prove the charge, the prosecutor can take the following steps:
- The prosecutor may (ideally) decide to dismiss the case. However, this is unlikely.
- The prosecutor may offer a plea agreement. Typically, this means you only plead guilty to lesser charges.
- The prosecutor can take you to trial. If you are found guilty, you can face anything from a misdemeanor charge to decades in prison, depending on the circumstances.
In either case, this may be an uphill battle and you shouldn’t fight this alone. It is important to consult with a criminal attorney who will fight to either try to persuade a prosecutor to dismiss your case, try to negotiate a plea agreement or help you achieve the best possible outcome in a trial setting.
Mike Goolsby is a Dallas criminal defense attorney that hasn’t lost a case since 2000. We will fight to build the most effective defense possible. He is the former chief prosecutor of the family violence court in Dallas County.