December 8, 2022

Two people sitting

According to a report from the Texas Advocacy Project, one in three Texans experience domestic violence at least once in their lifetime. 

If you are a part of a domestic violence dispute, you may have questions, do first-time offenders get the same punishment as those who repeatedly committed abuse? If not, what happens to first-time offenders in Texas for domestic violence?

Here’s everything you need to know about domestic violence penalties for first-time offenders in Texas.

What Is Domestic Violence in Texas?

Domestic violence is any act that aims to gain power and control over any household member. This act can threaten or cause bodily injuries, physical harm, or assault. Additionally, it can be in the form of child abuse or dating violence.

Usually, the household victim of domestic violence has one of the following relationships with the offender (this is regardless of living together):

  • Current or ex-spouse (with or without children)
  • Current or former dating partner (with or without children)
  • Parent/foster parent
  • Child/foster child
  • Sibling

Punishments for Domestic Violence Charges in Texas

Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.01 states any person who has one or more previous convictions of domestic violence faces a third-degree felony. The punishment for this type of felony is between 2–10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

However, first-time offenders are treated differently. 

A first-time offense of domestic violence is a Class A misdemeanor. The punishment, in this case, has a maximum of one year in prison and a $4,000 fine.

Probation and Supervised Release in Texas

The law in Texas offers alternatives to jail or prison time for first-time offenders of domestic violence. Those alternatives include probation and deferred adjudication:

1. Probation in Texas

After pleading guilty, the court may grant the offender probation time instead of going to jail or prison. Before starting the probation period, the defendant might be required to serve some prison time, which is 30 days for misdemeanor and 180 days for a felony.

That said, as a result of non-compliance with all the probation’s conditions, the offender must return to prison and complete the sentence. These conditions include:

  • Paying the costs of probation
  • Complying with curfew rules
  • Meeting with the probation officer
  • Going under treatment
  • Running drug tests
  • Maintaining employment
  • Avoiding criminal activities or arrest
  • Complying with any protective order

2. Deferred Adjudication in Texas

Also referred to as deferred entry of judgment (DEJ), deferred adjudication is another alternative to jail or prison for first-time domestic violence offenders. Before getting a sentence, the convicted person must successfully complete all requirements.

In return, the court discharges the defendant and dismisses the case. However, the arrest and dismissal remain on the person’s criminal record. That said, failing to complete those requirements, the defendant gets one of the above-mentioned sentences.

The requirements for deferred adjudication include some of the following:

  • Having no new arrests
  • Going under offender treatment
  • Doing volunteer work
  • Paying restitution, like the victim’s medical expenses, counseling expenses, and the cost of any damaged property

Would You Like Help With Your Domestic Assault Case in Texas?

If you have been charged with domestic violence in Texas, it is important to understand the consequences associated with a conviction. A domestic violence conviction can have a lasting impact on your life, including your ability to find employment, housing, or educational opportunities. 

However, there are no generic penalties for domestic violence. These penalties vary widely depending on the facts of each case, the defendant’s criminal history, and other factors.

If you or someone you know has been charged with domestic violence, it is important to speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A criminal defense attorney can inform you of your rights and help you understand the charges against you. 

Call 713-470-4097 and get in touch with The Napier Law Firm today!

Domestic Violence Charge in Texas FAQs

How long do you go to jail for domestic violence in Texas?

If the victim of domestic violence suffers from marks or injuries, the assault counts as a Class A misdemeanor, and the defendant faces up to one year in jail.

If they have previous convictions of domestic violence, the assailant faces two to ten years in a Texas penitentiary.

Can you get bail in a domestic violence case in Texas?

Yes, in most domestic violence instances, the arrested person can pay an amount of bail to be released during the case. Nevertheless, bail may be denied in case the judge determines that the defendant intends to commit another act of domestic violence.

Another reason for bail denial is violating bail conditions, which include:

  • Not staying away from the alleged victim
  • Contacting family members via phone, texts, emails, letters, notes, or other persons
  • Leaving home
  • Not paying spousal/child support
  • Owning any type of firearm
  • Not submitting to GPS monitoring

How much is bail on a domestic violence charge in Texas?

Usually, bail is determined according to the severity of the defendant’s charges and other factors, like whether or not the assailant is considered a flight risk. 

The amount varies from a few thousand dollars for a misdemeanor to ten thousand dollars for a felony.

What are the common types of Domestic Assault in Texas?

According to the law in Texas, there are three types of domestic violence, which are:

  1. Domestic Assault: A violent act that can be as little as a verbal threat against anybody who has an intimate relationship (must be proven in court) with the assailant.
  2. Aggravated domestic assault: Committing an act of violence that results in serious bodily injuries, getting caught during assault using a deadly weapon, or threatening to use a deadly weapon.
  3. Continuous violence against a family member: When the assailant has a previous record of two or more domestic violence incidents, even if they were just arrests with no convictions.

What is the statute of limitations on domestic violence in Texas?

Without strong evidence, the victim might not be able to bring a domestic violence case to court.

That said, in Texas, a person has three years to report a case of this kind.