Tag Archives: domestic violence

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

Texas’ “Constitutional Carry” Law and Domestic Violence

Texas gun laws recently became even more lenient, as Governor Greg Abbott signed the Constitutional Carry bill (HB 1927) into law. As of September 1, 2021, Texans aged 21 and over can legally carry a handgun without getting a state license – unless they can’t possess a firearm because they are disqualified by state or federal law. 

Why might you be disqualified? 

One reason why you might not be able to possess a gun is because you have previously been convicted of a domestic violence crime. And the new Constitutional Carry law increased criminal penalties for family violence crimes. 

  • A Class A misdemeanor for family violence was increased to a 3rddegree felony.
  • If a temporary emergency order, a final family violence protective order, or a marriage dissolution protective order has been issued against you, and you are in possession of a firearm, the penalty increases from a Class A misdemeanor to a 3rddegree felony.

(It’s not just family violence crimes that the new law effects. The bill also prohibits a person from permitless carry for five years if they were previously convicted of assault with bodily injury, deadly conduct, terroristic threats, or disorderly conduct with a firearm.)

Fighting Domestic Violence Charges

This change in Texas gun law makes it even more important to aggressively fight protective orders and family violence charges. 

Most people don’t know when a temporary emergency order is being heard against them in court. The “victim” and their lawyer are the only people to appear before the judge and only their side of the story is heard. 

Your right to possess a firearm is restricted when that initial temporary restraining order is granted. But you have a second chance to fight both the protective order and the firearm restrictions when a final protective order hearing takes place. 

One of the biggest challenges to defending a case of false domestic violence allegations is the “he said-she said” nature of the crime. Someone can make a charge of domestic violence based on a perceived threat or emotional abuse, without any physical attack having taken place. 

Putting together a strong defense can be like putting together the pieces of a puzzle – piece by piece a true picture begins to form. Character witnesses may be critical to proving what kind of person the “victim” is, and what kind of person the “perpetrator” is. A timeline of events may be needed to prove that some things didn’t happen when or as they were described. Medical records may be needed to prove that “injuries” were exaggerated. 

A lot is on the line when facing down a charge of domestic violence – including your right to carry a firearm. Talk with the Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys and Lee and Wood, LP about the steps you can take today to defend yourself in court. Call 817-678-6771 or contact us online