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Accused of Domestic Violence in Texas? Here’s Where You Can Find Help.

 Posted on October 10, 2022 in Uncategorized

Domestic violence is a serious problem in Texas and across the country. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, there were nearly 200,000 domestic violence incidents in the state in 2011, involving more than 194,000 domestic violence offenders. According to a study by the University of Texas at Austin, 37.7% of Texas women and 26.8% of Texas men have experienced intimate partner violence. At the same time, police estimate that victims report fewer than 50% of all domestic violence incidents. Domestic violence is a widespread problem that harms families and children. But if you're facing accusations of domestic violence and want help understanding your impulses and holding yourself accountable, there are many options in the Houston area.

You should also seek legal guidance to ensure that an expert in criminal defense law is also protecting your rights. Charges for domestic assault include both misdemeanors and felonies, with, in some cases, ten to 20 years in prison. Texas law limits alternatives to jail or prison time for domestic violence convictions. However, a deferred adjudication may be possible for a first conviction if the judge believes it's in the victim's best interests.

Battering Intervention and Prevention Program

Many counselors don't recommend couples counseling until the abusive party completes an intervention program and the victim feels safe participating. The Battering Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP) in Texas is intended to promote family safety and allow domestic violence offenders to become accountable for their actions. BIPP helps men and women who have been violent, controlling, or abusive in their family relationships. The program helps domestic violence offenders recognize and change their behaviors, take responsibility for their actions, and work to choose non-violent actions in the future.

There are several steps to the typical BIPP program:

  1. Client Referral

You can refer yourself to a BIPP or a community agency like Child Protective Services, or probation and parole may refer you. You can find BIPP groups throughout the Houston area in both English and Spanish. Your referring agency or person, such as a probation officer, victim, or partner, will receive notice when you register for and exit the program.

  1. Registration

You can typically register for a class online or over the phone in ten to 15 minutes. There is a fee for the course mandated by the Texas Department of Justice to reinforce that abusive behavior has consequences. The fee is typically determined on a sliding fee scale.

  1. Orientation

Orientation will involve meeting with BIPP facilitators and learning about the format and function of BIPP. You must sign a release that allows the program to contact the victim and referral source and agree to the rules and regulations. The program will also send monthly progress reports to your referring source.

  1. Evaluation

You will meet individually with a BIPP facilitator to develop goals and express your needs. You'll complete a formal evaluation and an individualized plan to focus on your goals, accountability, and program goals.

  1. Group Sessions

The BIPP is not an anger management course. Rather, you will complete a minimum of 18 two-hour weekly group sessions with an introduction to psychoeducation. In each session, facilitators will encourage you to focus on personal growth, accountability, and sharing openly.

Group facilitators are licensed professionals with mental health and wellness programs. Facilitators undergo extensive training and must shadow other professionals before facilitating BIPP sessions independently. Each facilitator also undergoes extensive continuing education through conferences, in-service, and training sessions.

  1. Additional Supports

Your BIPP can also help you access additional community support, such as addiction treatment programs, mental health services, and housing providers. You can also find additional support and services through AVDA, a nonprofit organization that has served the Houston community for more than 40 years. Their mission is to "end family violence by advocating for the safety and self-determination of victims, promoting accountability for abusers, and fostering a community response to abuse."

Expert Legal Help

Domestic violence convictions in Texas can carry serious legal penalties. The three most common types of charges include

  • Domestic Assault: Domestic assault is a class A misdemeanor if you don't have any prior convictions. But with any prior domestic violence convictions, domestic assault becomes a third-degree felony.
  • Aggravated Domestic Assault: Aggravated domestic assault involves a deadly weapon or serious bodily injury to the victim. This crime is a second-degree felony, but if it involves a serious injury, it becomes a first-degree felony.
  • Continuous Violence Against the Family: Continues violence against the family involves two or most assaults against a family member in 12 months. This is a third-degree felony.

Fines for a Class A misdemeanor conviction can go up to $4,000, and for a felony conviction, up to $10,000. Prison time for a domestic violence conviction can range from one year for a Class A misdemeanor to 99 years for some felonies.

You could also face additional consequences for a domestic violence conviction. The judge could order you to refrain from contacting or approaching the victim and can order GPS monitoring and confiscation of any firearms you possess. The court must order an emergency protection order if your arrest involves a deadly weapon or serious bodily injury.

You Need a Board Certified Expert in Texas Criminal Defense Law

If you're facing a domestic violence charge in Texas, you need expert legal guidance as soon as possible to ensure the best possible outcome. Attorney Doug Murphy is a board-certified expert in both Criminal Defense Law and DWI Defense. Doug is one of only two Texas attorneys with expert designations in these specialty areas of the law. He's also well regarded by his peers; Best Lawyers in America recently named him a 2023 "Lawyer of the Year" for DWI defense in Houston, a designation voted on by fellow lawyers. Doug and the skilled team at the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. have been helping people accused of domestic violence in Texas for years, and they can help you too. Call them at 713-229-8333, or contact them online to schedule a consultation.

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