Category Archives: Domestic Violence

Understanding the Impact of Social Media on Domestic Violence Cases

Each domestic violence case is different, and the evidence against a person can have a tremendous impact on the outcome. Even if you’re facing charges that are identical to what someone else is facing, the outcome will likely be different. Even facts that initially seem small can have a big effect on the outcome.

This is especially true when social media is involved. Our experienced domestic violence defense attorneys know that cases involving social media and domestic violence can be nuanced. Here are some key takeaways.

Social Media Can Be Used as Evidence of Domestic Violence

Like in other proceedings in Texas, social media can be used as evidence of a crime—or to help disprove allegations (often called “exculpatory evidence”). Under the law, social media evidence must meet certain requirements in order to be admissible in court.

First, it must be relevant. That means it tends to make an important fact seem more or less probable than it would without evidence. For example, social posts about you volunteering for charity last year may be found not relevant. But social posts threatening your accuser may be found to be relevant.

Second, it must be authenticated. Your accuser can’t simply produce evidence of social media posts at trial and claim that you wrote them. They must give you a chance to review the posts and object to their authenticity.

Social Media Posts Aren’t Private

Remember that social media postings are not private, even if you use privacy settings to hide your posts from people who are not your “friends.”

Social media sites’ privacy policies warn users that these posts aren’t private. Prosecutors and police can obtain the legal permissions necessary to get your subscriber information, history and social media posts.

Make Good Choices About What You Post

There’s a saying that “the internet is forever.” Thanks to screenshots, digital recordkeeping and sites like the Wayback Machine, records of your online activity can exist long after you delete posts.

The best way to avoid getting into trouble for social media posting is to take a deep breath before you type something. Calm down and consider the potential consequences. However, everyone makes mistakes. If something you posted could get you in trouble, talk with an attorney right away.

Have Questions? Reach Out for Legal Support.

To get the legal help you need, call our Fort Worth lawyers at 817-678-6771 or email us. Consultations are free and confidential.

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders and Gun Rights

A protection order, otherwise known as a restraining order, is not a criminal conviction. Having a domestic violence restraining order filed against you doesn’t mean you’ve been found guilty of anything.

Because of this, there’s broad disagreement over whether it’s a violation of your Constitutional rights to have to give up your firearms based on a restraining order. The Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments in a Texas case involving this issue.

Broad Terms of a Protective Order

The restraining order involved in the Texas case had a number of restrictions. Among them was that the subject had his handgun license suspended. He also was prohibited from possessing a firearm at any point while the order was in effect, a period of two years.

A later search warrant revealed that he had not given up his guns. He was then indicted under federal law based on his possession of guns while under the terms of the protective order.

Consequences of Violating a Protective Order

If you violate a restraining order, you’re facing serious trouble. A violation can land you in jail for up to a year and subject you to large fines.

If the judge rules that your violation was done with the intent to commit stalking or violence, you could be denied bail, meaning you’ll be in jail until the criminal trial that decides your guilt or innocence. The terms of the restraining order are important because they can create new paths for an otherwise innocent person to be held criminally liable.

Punishment Before Due Process

Protective orders are not the result of a criminal trial. They’re the result of a civil suit. What you have to prove to get a protective order is not the same as what you have to prove to get a criminal conviction.

One of the major disagreements about suspending the right to bear arms based on a restraining order is that you’re depriving someone of their constitutional rights without due process. In effect, you’re punishing someone without first doing what’s necessary to find them guilty.

Restraining Orders Are Serious Business

Regardless of whether gun rights are part of protective orders in the future, they’ll remain a serious matter. Violating a restraining order even a single time carries harsh penalties.

If you already have a conviction on your record, the penalties rise dramatically. You need to speak to an experienced Texas defense attorney if you’re accused of violating a protective order. There are defenses available, but you need to act quickly to protect your rights.

Call Today to Discuss Your Protective Order Situation

At the Fort Worth offices of Lee & Wood, LP, our experienced criminal defense lawyers provide aggressive legal protection. If you’ve been accused of violating a Texas protective order, you should call us at 817-678-6771 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

The Impact of False Domestic Violence Accusations

In the sphere of domestic relationships, domestic violence is a deeply troubling and unfortunately common issue. The laws surrounding domestic violence exist to protect victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

However, there is a side to this coin that often goes unaddressed. What is the impact of false domestic violence accusations?

False accusations can have devastating consequences on the accused, affecting their reputation, career, personal life, and even their legal standing.

If you are falsely accused of domestic violence, a criminal defense attorney will ensure that your rights are protected and help clear your name.

Personal and Professional Repercussions

Legal troubles are only the beginning if you’re falsely accused of domestic violence.

Those falsely accused of domestic violence can have immediate personal and professional fallout.

Friends and family may distance themselves, perhaps due to the stigma attached to the accusation or uncertainty about the truth.

Professionally, you may face suspension or termination, especially if you work in a field where background checks and moral character are paramount.

Legal Consequences

From a legal standpoint, a false accusation can lead to arrest, court appearances, and even a potential conviction if not appropriately handled.

If children are involved, a restraining order may limit your access to your home or children.

Even if the charges are dismissed or cleared, the legal costs and the toll on your personal life can be devastating.

Emotional Impact

It’s easy to focus on the legal, professional, and personal impact of being falsely accused of domestic violence.

However, The emotional strain of being falsely accused can be just as overwhelming. The feelings of betrayal, anger, confusion, and fear can have long-lasting effects on your mental health.

Support from a mental health professional, alongside legal counsel, may be necessary to help you navigate this challenging period.

The Role of the Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’re faced with a false domestic violence accusation, a skilled criminal defense attorney is essential.

An experienced attorney will understand the complexities of domestic violence laws and can:

  • Investigate the claim: Gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and establishing an accurate timeline are crucial to disproving a false accusation.
  • Navigate the legal system: The legal maze of domestic violence accusations requires a seasoned professional to guide the process, ensuring that all legal rights are protected.
  • Negotiate with prosecutors: If evidence suggests the accusation is false, an attorney can negotiate with prosecutors, possibly leading to dropped charges.
  • Represent you in court: If the case goes to trial, a criminal defense attorney will represent your interests, presenting the evidence and arguments needed to secure a just outcome.

Choosing the Right Criminal Defense Attorney

Going through a false domestic violence accusation is devastating. Your whole life is turned upside down in a blink of an eye.

You don’t have to go through it alone. The legal experts at Lee & Wood are here to help you navigate the legal process. We’ll stand by you and fight for your rights.

If you want to learn more about our services, please call us today at 817-678-6771 or send us a message for a confidential consultation with the Fort Worth lawyers at Lee and Wood, LP.

What if You’re Accused of Violating a Protective Order?

Protective orders, more often called restraining orders, are issued frequently by Texas courts in cases involving domestic violence or stalking. An order might be issued if you are arrested for alleged family violence or if a spouse or partner requests one from the court.

Being subject to a restraining order can greatly disrupt your life. It can prevent you from going near someone’s home or work. You could be forced to attend a battery prevention class, and you might have to give up possession of your firearms.

These disruptions can affect you for a long time because restraining orders can be effective for up to two years, or up to a year after you are released from jail.

What it Means to Violate the Conditions of a Restraining Order

Violating a protective order is a serious matter. It’s so serious that police can arrest you without a warrant as long as they have probable cause to believe you violated the order.

Officers can get probable cause by getting statements from witnesses, seeing physical evidence such as cuts or bruises on the victim, or from statements you make yourself.

Most Texas restraining orders spell out the things that you cannot do while you’re under the order. Typically, you can be found in violation if you:

  • Make direct or indirect threats against the protected person
  • Commit domestic assault
  • Get caught with a gun
  • Go too near the person’s house, school or workplace
  • Vandalize or damage the protected person’s property
  • Commit any other crime or act of violence against the protected person

What Happens if You Violate a Protective Order in Texas?

After your arrest, there will be a bail hearing. Here the judge will determine whether you violated the order with the intent to commit stalking or violence. If the judge believes that was indeed your intent, you could be detained without bail until your trial date.

Even if this is your first offense for violating a restraining order, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.

For first-time offenders, lawyers can often convince judges to sentence you to probation or community supervision, plus counseling and possibly substance abuse treatment if needed.

If you have two or more previous convictions, you can be charged with a third-degree felony. This means a possible sentence of two to 10 years in prison.

If you’re accused of violating a restraining order, contact a lawyer right away. You may have defenses available. For example, you might not have even known a restraining order existed. A lawyer can also argue for more lenient punishments such as anger management or counseling instead of jail.

Call Our Fort Worth Lawyers if You Are Accused of Violating a Restraining Order

At Lee & Wood, LP we help clients fight against alleged protective order violations in Fort Worth, Weatherford, Granbury and all surrounding areas. We provide a free initial consultation where we’ll listen compassionately to you, and explain how we can help. Call 817-678-6771 or email us today.

Possible Defenses in Domestic Violence Cases

In Texas, crimes involving family violence often carry harsher punishments than identical acts of violence committed against a non-family member. This is one reason finding an experienced defense lawyer is crucial for anyone accused of domestic violence (also called DV or “assault family violence” in Texas).

You can be charged with a domestic violence or family violence crime if you allegedly threatened to harm or did physically harm to:

  • Your current or former spouse
  • The parent of your child
  • Your foster child
  • A relative by blood, marriage or adoption
  • Any current or former co-residents (such as a roommate, even if the roommate is not related to you)
  • Your current or former dating or romantic partner

Examining Some Possible Defenses to Texas DV Charges

Texas recognizes several different crimes of domestic violence, including domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, domestic assault impeding breath, and continuous violence against the family.

No matter what exact charge you face, it’s important to explain all the facts to your lawyer so they can develop the strongest possible defense strategy for you. Depending on the facts, your attorney may decide to pursue any of several defenses:

  • No bodily injury: Does the prosecutor have evidence to prove that the alleged victim suffered an injury? Prosecutors are not required to provide photos or medical records, but it’s hard to prove DV cases without them. Without such objective evidence of bodily injury, the prosecutor’s case mostly relies on the alleged victim’s word.
  • No criminal intent: Prosecutors must prove you acted intentionally. Often, alleged victims initially claim they were abused or assaulted, but later, when things calm down, they make clear it was not intentional. If intent can’t be proven, your case could be dismissed.
  • Affidavit of non-prosecution (ANP): This is a victim’s written statement that they don’t want the case to go forward. While ANPs are viewed skeptically and prosecutors can move forward despite an ANP, they can still be useful if the victim includes evidence that no crime occurred. An ANP may be used to establish reasonable doubt, putting you in a better position to get a favorable outcome.
  • Witness credibility: Does the alleged victim’s statement make sense, or are there inconsistencies in it? Perhaps it contradicts other evidence from videos, photos or testimony of other witnesses. Perhaps the victim had a reason to lie or wanted to accuse you of DV out of hatred or spite. 

These are just a few possible ways a qualified Dallas-Fort Worth DV defense lawyer might be able to defend you. Other tactics and strategies may be available, depending on the specifics of your situation.

Get a Free Consultation with a Fort Worth Domestic Violence Lawyer Today

If you’re accused of domestic violence or family violence, reach out to the defense attorneys at Lee & Wood, LP as soon as possible. Call 817-678-6771  or send us an email to schedule a free consultation. We handle cases in Tarrant County, Dallas County, Denton County and all surrounding areas.

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How Domestic Violence Affects Gun Ownership Rights in Texas

Our law firm represents many hunters and other gun owners, and we know how important firearms ownership is to many Texans. We also defend clients accused of domestic violence, doing our best to help clients fight back against false accusations. 

These two areas of law—domestic violence and firearms rights—intersect. Specifically, certain state and federal laws can limit your ability to own or possess firearms if you are convicted of certain domestic violence charges.

The Basics of Domestic Violence and Gun Rights

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms. However, like all rights, there are limits. The Supreme Court ruled long ago that the government can prohibit people who were convicted of domestic violence (DV) from possessing guns. 

Specifically, under the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, people who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in either state or federal court are usually prohibited from possessing firearms. Courts have upheld this restriction numerous times, finding that it is a reasonable interpretation of the Second Amendment.

The federal law restricting firearm ownership automatically applies to anyone convicted of domestic violence in state court and anyone who is subject to a DV-related protective order.

Firearms Restrictions While Subject to a DV Protective Order

If you have received notice of a DV protective order issued against you in Texas or another jurisdiction, you will be prohibited from possessing firearms. The prohibition lasts as long the order remains in effect, and the prohibition is effective for both final and temporary protective orders.

In addition to losing your right to possess a firearm, your concealed carry license can be suspended while you are the subject of a DV protective order.  

Defense Against DV Charges is Critical

To reduce the risk of losing your firearms rights when you are accused of domestic violence, you must quickly retain a defense team experienced in both Texas DV law and firearms law. Depending on the circumstances, the right attorney may be able to fight the DV charges and get you acquitted, thus preserving your freedom and your right to own a gun. 

Alternatively, it may be possible to negotiate a plea agreement that includes provisions allowing you to continue to own and use firearms. 

Contact Our Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys for a Free Consultation

Lee & Wood is a law firm dedicated to defending the freedom of Texans. We will do everything we can to keep you out of jail, have protective orders lifted, and preserve your constitutional right to bear arms. 

Find out how we may be able to help you by calling 817-678-6771, or you can contact us online and we’ll respond promptly. Your initial consultation is free. We serve clients in Fort Worth, Cleburne, Weatherford, and many other communities west of the DFW metroplex.

What to Do If You’re Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence

There are many reasons why individuals may be falsely accused of a crime they didn’t commit. Perhaps your spouse is attempting to accuse you of violence to try and secure a better outcome during a divorce. Or, maybe the individual is simply angry and wants to “get back at you” by trying to damage your reputation.

Regardless of the reasoning, domestic violence is a serious allegation that could result in severe consequences. Keep reading to discover what you should do and avoid if you’ve been falsely accused.

Do This First: Reach Out to an Attorney

First, consider reaching out to a skilled criminal defense attorney, even if you have yet to be formally charged. An attorney will get to work on your defense quickly.

The consequences of a domestic violence conviction are serious in Texas. For example, you could be subjected to fines or several years in prison, depending on the severity of the charge. A conviction will also result in a criminal record that may keep you from getting a job and owning a firearm.

Avoiding these consequences when you didn’t commit the crime is the reason an attorney is critical to your case.

4 Things to Avoid After Being Accused of Domestic Violence

After being falsely accused, there are a few things you should avoid at all costs:

  1. Contacting the accuser: If you can, do your best to avoid communicating with your accuser. This may allow them to make further accusations. Instead, allow your attorney to handle any communication that’s required.
  2. Talking about the accusation on social media: Another way to exacerbate the issue is by sharing it on social media. Remember, everything you say can be used against you. So, refrain from speaking about the accusation on Facebook or any other platform.
  3. Speaking with law enforcement: You have a right to remain silent. Before you speak to law enforcement, reach out to an attorney who can advise you on what to say and what to avoid sharing.
  4. Failing to gather evidence: If there’s any evidence that can be used in your defense, gather it. Evidence can include anything from text messages to photos.

Call Lee & Wood, LP for Support

If you have been accused of domestic violence, you must reach out to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Lee & Wood, LP are here to support you during this time. Reach out to us today by calling 817-678-6771 or send us a message.

Can a Partner Drop Domestic Violence Charges in Texas?

Domestic violence charges often result from things that happened in the heat of the moment. An argument may have escalated until the neighbors reported the shouting to the police. Police may have mistaken an injury for a sign of domestic abuse. A household member may have made a report motivated by jealousy or anger, or to gain leverage in a family law proceeding.

Later the household member may want to drop their allegations. This is very common. In fact, it’s well documented that 80 to 90% of domestic violence victims recant their statements to police and investigators. 

What if a household member wants to take back what they said? Can a partner drop domestic violence charges in Texas?

About the Texas “No Drop” Policy

Texas has passed legislation to make sure that domestic violence charges are taken very seriously. Our state’s “no drop” policy means that, even if someone in your household wants to drop domestic violence charges, they do not have the power to do so on their own.

Domestic violence charges are brought by the prosecutor—not the alleged victim of domestic violence. Under Texas law, it’s the prosecutor’s decision whether to drop charges. Even if the alleged victim later changes their mind, they do not have the authority to drop charges on their own.

Instead, the prosecutor must be persuaded to drop the assault charges. It’s not impossible to accomplish, but it requires specific legal action and strategy.

Convincing a Prosecutor to Drop Domestic Violence Charges

Your partner or household member can’t decide to drop charges on their own, so your lawyer may need to emphasize other facts of your case. Each case is different, but a lawyer may emphasize a client’s lack of any past criminal record. They may also look to the facts of the case to help convince prosecutors that the charges need to be dropped.

Why Does Texas Have a “No Drop” Policy?

Our state’s “no drop” policy is tied to psychological research about the nature of abusive relationships. Abusive relationships often follow a cycle of gradual escalation of violence until a dramatic and significant episode. That episode is often followed by a period of calm during which the abuser tries to make it up to their partner.

Prosecutors are concerned that their clients will make statements directly after a violent episode, and then take them back when things are calm again—even though there’s likely to be a gradual escalation of violence in the future. 

Prosecutors are also concerned that abusive partners will pressure their victims into recanting out of fear. The state’s strict “no drop” policy is designed to protect against these situations.

Call Our Fort Worth Lawyers About Domestic Violence Charges

If someone in your household has made domestic violence allegations against you, call 817-678-6771 for a confidential consultation with the Fort Worth domestic violence defense lawyers at Lee and Wood, LP. 

We have extensive experience defending people against misdemeanor and felony assault charges. You may also send us a message.

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Bail Reform Bill Now in Effect, Limiting Who Can Be Released

Last year the Texas Senate and House decided to take a look at how bail works in Texas. The new bail reform law they passed may have some positive effects. It requires that the court look at a person’s criminal history before setting bail, and it requires more training for judges. 

But the new law also took away a judge’s discretion to decide on bail in some cases.

It prohibits a person charged with a violent crime from being released on their own recognizance. (This is when a person signs an agreement with the court and does not have to pay money in order to be released).  

What About the Presumption of Innocence?

In the USA, if you have been charged with a crime you are INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty. That’s one of the most important foundations of our legal system. And yet a Texas Observer article from 2018 found that ¾ of county jail inmates in Texas had not been convicted of a crime! They were incarcerated because they couldn’t pay bail (or a hold had been put on them). 

That’s a lot of people doing time who may be innocent. Unfortunately, the new bail reform law won’t improve that situation for some of those people. 

What Is a Violent Crime in Texas?

The most commonly charged violent crime in Texas is aggravated assault. That is:

  • An assault with a weapon (or anything that could be used as a weapon that could cause injury or death) or 
  • An assault that caused serious injury (disfigurement or impairment of function for a period of time or risk of death). 

Robbery is the next most common violent crime. Robbery is intentionally, knowingly or recklessly threatening someone or causing bodily injury during the commission of a theft. 

Rape and murder are also violent crimes.

The Importance of Negotiating Charges

It’s not uncommon for criminal charges to be adjusted downward. A prosecutor often starts with many criminal charges, or the highest charge they think they can get. Then, as the case is prepared for court or through the plea-bargaining process between the prosecutor and defense attorney, the charges are reduced or dropped altogether.

If you are facing serious criminal charges, don’t talk to the police or submit a plea until you’ve talked to a lawyer of your own. Someone who will protect your interests and provide a strong defense. Call the Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers at Lee and Wood, LP. at 817-678-6771 or contact us online

Tarrant County Domestic Violence Diversion Program

Domestic violence calls to the SafeHaven hotline increased by 50% in Tarrant County during the COVID pandemic as people in stressed and stressful life circumstances became even more isolated. 

That call to a domestic violence hotline can get someone out of the house and into a living situation that they find safer. A call to the police will get someone out of the house and into the courtroom, charged with a domestic violence crime that could put them in jail. And that leads to a lifetime of negative consequences that seldom help the victim, the accused, ortheir family work through their problems. 

The truth is, many people in troubled relationships do love one another and would want to stay together if they could be sure that family violence would not be a part of their life in future. 

Thanks to a grant from the Criminal Justice Division of the Governor’s office, Tarrant County offers has a pre-trial Domestic Violence Diversion Program to help people accused of domestic assault to change their lives. 

Participants must undergo screening and assessment in order to be selected to participate in this rehabilitation program. In order to qualify you must admit to the fact that you committed the crime by entering a guilty plea to assault (family violence) before a judge. You must be willing to fully participate in the program and make life changes. And the victim must sign a consent form for you to participate. 

Other criteria include:

  • The offense you are charged with must be a misdemeanor partner-on-partner crime
  • You cannot have any current or prior violations of a protective order
  • You cannot be accused of stalking
  • You cannot have any active warrants out for your arrest or other pending criminal charges against you
  • You cannot have participated in a diversion program before

After you enter your guilty plea, the judge will recess your hearing for one year, during which time you will participate in an intensive court supervised program that includes:

  • Reporting in to a case manager
  • Completing all recommended treatment and counseling
  • Attending a progress review with the court
  • Paying a supervision fee ($60/month)

If you violate any of the conditions of the program, you are discharged and brought back in court for criminal sentencing. 

If you successfully complete the program, you will appear before the judge again and can withdraw your prior guilty plea. The judge will dismiss your case. 

A domestic violence arrest will still be on your criminal record, but it may be possible to have your record sealed or expunged. Talk with a Fort Worth family violence attorney at Lee and Wood, LP about whether you qualify for this pretrial diversion program or to have your criminal record sealed. Call 817-678-6771 or contact us online