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On TV and the news, they call it “domestic violence”. But you’ve been charged with “Assault- Family Violence”. So, what exactly does “Family Violence” mean legally?

Assault is simply causing injury to another. But a Family Violence allegation can be added to an Assault charge if the violence occurred against a member of a household or a person with whom there was a romantic relationship.

Examples of Family Violence cases

That means you can be charged with Assault - Family Violence if you punch your roommate for not paying his portion of the electric bill (member of the household) or if you slap your boyfriend for finding his Tinder account (a person with whom you've had a romantic relationship). For what it’s worth, it has been my experience that prosecutors will often drop a Family Violence allegation when the assault occurs between platonic roommates.

So what should you know about a Family Violence allegation?

A Family Violence finding can affect your gun rights. Specifically, if you are convicted of an Assault – Family Violence, it will be illegal for you to ever possess a gun again.

Also, a Family Violence finding can affect future charges. Specifically, if you are charged with Assault – Family Violence and you have a previous conviction or deferred adjudication for Assault – Family Violence, your new charge will be a third degree felony, instead of simply a class A misdemeanor.

Do you want a deferred adjudication for your Assault-Family Violence charge?

It's not uncommon for the state to offer a deferred adjudication on an Assault – Family Violence, Class A misdemeanor. There may be benefits to the deferred adjudication, such as a dismissal upon successful completion of the deferred adjudication probation. However, it is important to understand that a person cannot seal or expunge that charge, even if he or she successfully completes the deferred adjudication. If you take a deferred adjudication plea deal, the arrest and the guilty plea will stay on your permanent criminal history.

How can a lawyer help me?

When I’m handling these matters, I always try to get the case dismissed. If that’s not possible, I try to get the State to go forward on a different charge to avoid the Family Violence allegation because of the consequences mentioned above.

Sometimes, we can have the alleged victim sign an affidavit of non-prosecution (which informs the State that he/she does not want to press charges). These affidavits can be very useful in securing dismissals or working out favorable resolutions.

We also interview witnesses who may have been present during the incident. If those witnesses are helpful, we have them sign affidavits so we can present them to the prosecutor as another way to get the case dismissed.

As you can see, a Family violence finding is quite serious. If you have been charged with an assault family violence, give us a call and let's have a free consultation to discuss your case.