Family Violence Lawyers
Texas has harsh domestic violence laws. For years, police and prosecutors were reluctant to get involved in family violence allegations unless there was an immediate concern that someone would be seriously injured or killed. Those days are gone. Now, police and prosecutors are almost certain to pursue charges, even if the complaining witness (“victim”) does not want to pursue the case. The system has two goals: Protect Victims; and Punish Abusers. Unfortunately, people that are wrongfully accused or otherwise good people get swept away in this culture of “Victims First.”
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More than 20 years of combined experience with over 1,000 domestic violence cases defended.
If you are facing a domestic violence charge in Texas, then you should be looking for a defence attorney that will approach your case with even more commitment than police and prosecutors. The lawyers at the Cofer Luster Law Firm have defended hundreds of assault family violence cases over the last 10 years. Before becoming defense attorneys, Cody Cofer and James Luster were both prosecutors. As a prosecutor, James was assigned to the Family Violence Unit in the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office. Both lawyers have extensive trial experience and have the skills to provide you the best chance of getting your case dropped. Visit our Fort Worth office, today.
Even misdemeanor domestic violence cases have serious consequences. In many ways, these charges are treated like felonies. Someone convicted of family violence cannot possess a firearm. (Texas Law and Federal Law). Possession of a firearm after a conviction can result in a new felony charge. A conviction may also impact your housing options. Many apartment and house landlords will not rent a property to someone with a conviction. Employers often reject applicants because of these cases. In child custody cases, a family violence conviction can create a presumption that a person should not be the primary custody of their child. An attorney experienced with domestic violence charges can explain all of the direct and possible collateral consequences of a conviction. The need for an aggressive advocate, well-versed with domestic violence cases, is critical in fighting the charge against you.
Often if you received deferred adjudication probation in case, later you can have the record sealed with an order of non-disclosure. Not for these cases. Texas law specifically excludes these charges from the right to a non-disclosure or sealing your record. The only way you can get these charges expunged is if you have the charged dismissed or you get acquitted at trial (jury finds you “not guilty”). Your defense lawyer can explain how, in many ways, these are “all or nothing” cases.
The Cofer Luster Law Firm attorneys are willing to fight your case all the way through trial and appeal. However, you should know the possible consequences of these charges:
- First Offense Misdemeanor – you can receive up to one year in jail and have to pay a $4,000 fine. Instead of jail, you could be sentenced to probation, either with a conviction or deferred adjudication. Probation for a misdemeanor assault can be as much as two years.
- New Case with Prior Conviction – if you have already been convicted, or placed on deferred adjudication, for domestic violence, then if you are arrested on a new charge the case will be filed as a Third Degree Felony. This means you could get a sentence of 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Like with other felony charges, you may be eligible for probation (regular or deferred adjudication). The term of probation could be from 2 years to 10 years.
- Choking or Impeding Breathing – if you are accused of choking (Impeding Breathing or Circulation), then you are facing a Third Degree Felony, even if you have never had a domestic violence case before. You could get a sentence of 2 to 10 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine. Like other felony charges, you could be eligible for probation (regular or deferred adjudication). The probation could be for 2 years to 10 years.
- Aggravated Assault of a Family Member – if you are accused of causing serious bodily injury or using a deadly weapon, then the charge could be filed as a First Degree Felony. The range of punishment for this level of charge is from 5 years to 99 years or Life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Probation could be an option, instead of prison.
Emergency Protective Order
The process for removing or lifting a protective order can vary from city to city or county to county. You have a greater chance of success in lifting the order if you meet a defense lawyer immediately.
The lawyer will usually follow these general steps:
- Interview the alleged victim in the case;
- Attempt to get an affidavit of non-prosecution;
- Request the alleged victim execute a verified request to lift the protective order;
- A lawyer will draft a motion to remove or modify the current order;
- Contact the correct prosecutor (city or county prosecutor);
- Petition the court for a hearing date;
- Second meeting with the alleged victim to prepare for hearing;
- Prepare a proposed order to present to the court at the hearing; and
- Litigate an evidentiary hearing before a judge.
Your criminal defense lawyer should appear at the hearing, question witnesses, object improper questions, and argue. If hearing is unsuccessful, consider possible appeal or transfer to a different court. Like mentioned above, procedures can be very different depending on the jurisdiction of the court issuing the protective order. Sometimes, a court will remove or modify the EPO without a hearing if the lawyer gets all of the appropriate affidavits and the prosecutor has an opportunity to speak with the alleged victim.
What You Are Up Against
Domestic violence defense is complex, and you need an experienced team of defense lawyers protecting you. Prosecutors and their “victims” assistant staff become very protective of “victims.” The sweeping cultural movement of #IBelieveHer and #MeToo has made defense of these cases more difficult. You may not only be facing difficult facts in your case, you are fighting against a popular cause célèbre. We wish that we could count on the justice system seeking justice for everyone, victims and the accused alike. This is just not reality. If you want justice, you need someone to fight for it.