Austin, TX

The Family Violence Finding

Consequences of a Texas Family Violence Finding

Even misdemeanor domestic violence charges should be taken very seriously. A big reason for the is the “family violence finding”, which leads to severe penalties beyond typical misdemeanors and felonies.

If you understand the FV finding then you know why domestic assault cases should be taken extremely seriously. Such a finding can have significant ramifications for life.

Austin criminal defense lawyer Rob Chesnutt has experience in Travis County and in the Central Texas criminal justice system. He can often avoid family violence findings for his clients in domestic assault cases. Fill out a contact form for a free consultation if you have pending domestic and family violence charges.

What is a “Finding of Family Violence?”

A “Finding of Family Violence” in Texas is a legal determination made by a court in cases of domestic assault or abuse. Under Texas Penal Code 71.004, ‘family violence’ is defined as an act by a member of a family or household against another that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, or a threat that places the member in fear of imminent physical harm.

In the context of Texas law, the definition of ‘family member’ is quite broad. It includes individuals related by blood or marriage, former spouses, parents of the same child, foster parents and children, as well as any household member, including roommates. Under Texas Penal Code 71.005, a household comprises one or more persons living in the same dwelling, regardless of whether they are related.

Therefore, acts of violence or threats thereof could be considered family violence even if the individuals involved are not related by blood or marriage. If there is any question on this issue, a criminal defense attorney can use this to his advantage in plea negotiations or at trial.

What are the Consequences of a Family Violence Finding?

The consequences of a family violence offense in Texas extend beyond the typical criminal penalties. A domestic violence finding can have long-lasting effects on various aspects of your life. On the personal front, such a finding can place restrictions on child custody and visitation rights during divorce proceedings or in disputes over children.

It can have significant implications for your professional life, as this can show up in background checks, potentially limiting employment opportunities. The negative impacts of a domestic violence finding are far-reaching, underlining the importance of experienced legal representation when facing such serious charges.

Future Domestic Violence Cases Charged as a Felony

A domestic violence finding can have severe repercussions for future incidents of domestic violence. In Texas, repeat offenses of family violence are classified as felonies, carrying harsher penalties than misdemeanor charges. Additionally, certain factors such as the use of a deadly weapon or serious bodily injury to the victim can also elevate a misdemeanor charge to a felony offense.

It is crucial to seek legal counsel when facing domestic violence charges, because the repercussions of a conviction for domestic violence crimes are so significant.

Cannot Possess a firearm

A family violence finding can result in the loss of your right to possess a firearm for life. Under federal law, individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms and ammunition. This applies even if the conviction was for a misdemeanor offense.

Violating this law can lead to serious consequences, including additional criminal charges. It is essential to understand the implications of a family violence finding and seek an experienced domestic violence attorney to protect your rights.

As assault on a family or household member can restrict gun ownership for life.

Affect on Immigration Status

A family violence conviction can also have a significant impact on an individual’s immigration status. Under current immigration laws, domestic violence is considered a crime of moral turpitude and can result in deportation or denial of naturalization for green card holders.

Furthermore, non-citizens who are convicted of domestic violence offenses may face deportation without the possibility of discretionary relief. This can have devastating consequences for individuals and families, as well as their ability to remain in the country. Discuss your domestic violence case with your attorney extensively before agreeing to any plea if you are not a US citizen.

Record Cannot Be Sealed or Expunged

In most cases, a family violence conviction cannot be sealed or expunged from an individual’s criminal record (unless dismissed). This means that the offense will always show up on background checks, which can affect employment opportunities and professional licenses.

It is essential to carefully consider the potential consequences of pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge and speak with your domestic violence lawyer to explore alternatives that may allow for the sealing.

May be denied a PR Bond for Future Criminal Charges

A PR bond (Personal Recognizance Bond) is a type of bond that allows the defendant to be released from custody without having to pay bail. However, if an individual has a prior family violence conviction on their record, they may not be granted a PR bond for any future criminal charges.

Social Stigma of Assault Family Violence Conviction

A conviction for assault family violence can also lead to social stigma and impact an individual’s personal relationships, reputation, and mental health. This can be especially challenging for individuals who have been falsely accused or are working towards rebuilding their lives after a past mistake. Talk about all aspects of the case with a domestic violence lawyer to defend your case and minimize the future burdens on your life.

Is It Possible to negotiate the FV Finding with the Prosecutor?

Unless your criminal defense lawyer is able to negotiate a dismissal, it is not possible to waive the family violence finding for domestic assault. It is, therefore, crucial to engage an experienced domestic violence attorney who understands the nuances of such cases and can effectively negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf.

Remember, every case is unique, and negotiation outcomes can vary based on the facts of the case, the evidence presented, and the prosecutor’s stance. Sometimes dismissal is an option in family violence cases, especially if the alleged victim has a history of untruthfulness or does not want to press charges in the assault case.

How long does the FV Finding Stay on My Record?

Unfortunately, a family violence finding will stay on your criminal record indefinitely. This means that it may come up in future background checks and could potentially impact job opportunities, housing options, and other aspects of your life.

Assault against family members will stay on your criminal history forever.

How can I avoid a Domestic Violence Finding?

When charged with domestic assault or aggravated assault against a family member or family members, you really do need an experienced lawyer to avoid a domestic violence finding. Because Texas courts cannot waive it, the only way to avoid is with dismissal of charges. Even deferred adjudication, which is technically not a conviction, will still lead to a domestic violence finding that cannot be sealed. Also, the judge does not have to make an “affirmative finding” of domestic assault for the FV finding to apply.

Fortunately, a good domestic violence lawyer does have some cards to play, especially when the alleged victim has exaggerated claims or false accusations.

Do Not Plea to Anything that Requires a Family Violence Finding

Usually it is a good idea to challenge the allegations and take the case to trial if necessary. (It goes without saying, you should discuss this with your own domestic violence lawyer. Only he or she knows all the facts of your case.) With that said, in over 90% of cases, when the client does not have a prior domestic assault on his/her record, the best course of action is to go to trial instead of accepting a plea.

Even if these seems to be ample evidence of an assault family violence charge, a lot of good things can happen by forcing the case to trial. The prosecution must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and a strong defense strategy can often create doubt.

Pretrial Diversion Can Be a Good Option

In some cases, especially when dealing with a first offense, a pretrial diversion program will be offered by the prosecution. For example, in Travis County, Texas, it is called the Family Violence Intervention Program (FVIP).

This allows the defendant to complete certain requirements, such as anger management classes or community service, and have the case dismissed without a conviction or family violence finding. This option is not always available and should not be relied upon as a guaranteed outcome, but you should speak with a domestic violence lawyer to see if the option is available.

Austin criminal defense lawyer Rob Chesnutt defends those accused of domestic and family violence.

Contact a Texas Domestic Violence Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Austin domestic violence attorney Rob Chesnutt can answer some of the questions you have about your case. If charged with domestic assault, don’t hesitate to fill out a contact form for a free phone consultation. Rob will represent clients charged with domestic assault criminal cases in Travis County and across Central Texas.

505 West 12th Street, Suite 200 Austin Texas 78701

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