The latest Texas legislature really went out of their way to address family violence. The penal code has virtually been revamped in this area of the law in the last ten years. When I became a lawyer there wasn't a distinction between an assault against a family member and one against a non family member. The legislature enhanced family violence assault cases. For example, it made it a third degree felony if someone had previously been convicted of an assault against a family member. Starting on September 1st of this year, a first time family violence assault case may be filed as a third degree felony if a person impedes the normal breathing of the victim by applying pressure to the person's throat, or neck. In other words, a choke may now be classified as a felony. If the accused happens to have been previously convicted of an assault against a family member they may be charged with a second degree felony. Also, the new crime of Continuous Violence Against the Family was created in this session. It will now be a third degree felony if during a 12 month period or less a person two or more times engages in conduct that constitutes an assault against a family member. A prior conviction of family violence assault is no longer required. I am concerned that we see an increase in the cases that are refiled as a felony after a misdemeanor prosecutor conducts the required "RIP" call with the complaining witness in a case.
The legislature also addressed anyone that may be on bond for family violence assault. A court may require a person charged with a family violence offense to wear a global positioning monitoring system device (GPS). Additionally, the person will bear the expense of the GPS when the court warns the person on bond about going to or near a residence, school, place of employment, or other specified location frequented by the victim. I guess a protective order is not enough anymore.
If you would like to speak with an attorney regarding a family violence case call The Martinez Law Firm at (713) 242-1779.