How Long Do You Have to Report Domestic Violence in Texas?
A Texas prosecutor has 2 years to file misdemeanor domestic violence charges and 3 years for felony charges. In extreme cases, a prosecutor might attempt to characterize domestic violence, for example, as sexual assault, in which event the prosecutor can file charges any time within 10 years after the last event of an assault.
In order to have domestic violence charges filed in your case, you must report the event no later than two (2) years after its occurrence. The prosecutor can then investigate the report and decide whether to file misdemeanor or felony charges.
Differences between misdemeanor and felony domestic violence
There dividing line between misdemeanor and felony domestic violence is blurry. A prosecutor will look at all of the circumstances in a domestic violence report before opting for felony or misdemeanor charges, including whether other domestic violence reports have been made against the alleged perpetrator and the extent and seriousness of the injuries, if any, suffered by the victim.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in Texas, arguing to reduce those charges from felony to misdemeanor status is critical for the avoidance of future problems under the Texas “three strikes” law. That law was enacted to keep habitual offenders in prison. A felony domestic violence conviction will count as one of the three strikes.
How delayed reporting might affect domestic violence charges
Prosecutors and the law, in general, are sympathetic to domestic violence victims. Nonetheless, delayed reports will usually draw more scrutiny as prosecutors formulate theories as to why the charges were not filed in a more timely fashion. Delays can also form the basis of a defense, and a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney will investigate the reasons behind any delays between when the alleged incident supposedly occurred and when it was reported to law enforcement.
Defending yourself against Texas domestic violence charges
Even if a victim does not want a Texas prosecutor to move forward with domestic or family violence charges, the prosecutor can elect to proceed with the case. The victim’s decision not to “press charges” is only one of several elements that a prosecutor will consider.
When a prosecutor does elect to pursue a domestic violence case, the defendant’s attorney will often first attempt to negotiate for reduced charges if the evidence is weak. Barring a reduction in charges, a domestic violence defense lawyer can then adopt alternate theories by, for example, introducing contradictory eyewitness testimony or arguing for self-defense.
Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Lawyers in Texas
Any domestic violence conviction, whether on misdemeanor or felony charges, can have serious and long-lasting consequences for a defendant in Texas. If you have been charged with any level of domestic violence, please contact the Peveto Law Office for knowledgeable and experienced defense services.
- www.texas.gov: Reporting Family Violence. https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.91.htm
- www.texasattorneygeneral.gov: Family Violence Facts. https://www2.texasattorneygeneral.gov/initiatives/family-violence/
- www.texas.gov: Code of Criminal Procedure – Limitation. https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/CR/htm/CR.12.htm