When someone learns they are being investigated and are potentially facing domestic violence charges, they nearly always have questions. Those who have been arrested and charged or accused and questioned may have even more questions. However, the one question everyone has is, what will it cost to hire a domestic violence defense attorney? Maybe the better question is, what will you pay if you don’t hire a good domestic violence lawyer and a court convicts you of a serious charge?
Understanding Domestic Violence Charges
One of the challenges you will face as a defendant facing domestic violence charges is wondering what led up to the charges. Domestic violence does not always mean you caused bodily injury to another person.
Domestic violence charges in Texas can include:
- Stalking and harassment – if you are accused of stalking or harassing a person whom Texas’s domestic violence statutes protect, you may face a domestic violence charge.
- Verbal abuse and threats – if you have verbally abused a person who is part of your household, or a former romantic interest, you can be prosecuted under the Texas domestic violence statutes.
- Assault or battery – because prosecutors often charge assault and battery as a single crime, many people are unaware that assaultive crimes and battery are not the same. A domestic violence charge can include both components and prosecutors often charge it when they think a person has not only threatened someone but also laid hands on and injured them.
Do not take any domestic violence charges lightly, as Texas takes these charges very seriously and will prosecute you to the fullest extent the law allows.
The High Cost of Domestic Violence Charges
If prosecutors charge you with domestic violence, you may feel that you can defend yourself since you do not believe you did anything wrong. This is a serious mistake on your part. Remember the potential penalties of these charges. You could face misdemeanor or felony charges.
Some of the potential penalties for a guilty finding include:
- Assault – prosecutors may file assault charges if they believe you threatened someone verbally. This threat could result in your being fined $500 and facing a Class C misdemeanor on a criminal record. However, if the victim claims you caused them bodily injury, the charge could be upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor, and you could be facing up to four years in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. Anyone with a prior domestic violence charge could face a third-degree felony charge. A conviction could mean up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
- Aggravated Domestic Assault – this is a second-degree felony, and a conviction could result in 20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. If a weapon were brandished in the crime, the charges become a first-degree felony and could mean a lifetime in prison and $10,000 in fines.
- All Domestic Abuse Convictions – any person convicted of a domestic abuse crime can lose all rights to own a firearm. This is a federal statute, and Texas has similar safeguards in place.
A convicted person can face other penalties, including loss of parental rights, anger management classes, loss of certain professional licensing, and other penalties. You cannot afford not to hire an attorney to defend you against these charges.
Defending Domestic Violence Charges Costs Depend on Numerous Factors
Some of the factors that will play a role in the cost of defending you include:
- Charges you face – a misdemeanor charge is easier to defend than a felony charge. This means the case is not as labor-intensive for your lawyer.
- Your history – if you face a domestic violence charge for the first time, it is easier to defend. If you have had prior charges, even if you were never convicted, this means your attorney will have to spend more time preparing your case.
- Experience level – the more experience a lawyer has, the more likely you are to be paying a premium for their experience defending domestic violence charges.
- Court location – domestic violence charges may find their way into civil cases, family law cases, or criminal cases. The amount of time your attorney may have to spend in court will impact the fees you pay.
The basic rule of thumb in all criminal cases is time spent. The longer your case takes your attorney to prepare for and fight back against, the more their services will cost you. The fact of the matter is that if you are facing any criminal domestic violence charges, you cannot afford to be without an attorney to represent you.
The Importance of a Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
Those falsely accused of domestic violence must find a way to clear their names. Unfortunately, someone may falsely claim you stalked, harassed, or threatened them to strike back against what they perceive as a wrong.
The best way to find out what a criminal defense attorney will charge to defend you against a domestic violence charge is to contact an experienced attorney and ask them to schedule a free consultation. Then take the time to explain your situation, ask them to tell you your options, find out their estimate of the financial burden, and ask about payment options.
Never represent yourself. Your freedom and your future are on the line. Contact a criminal defense attorney who has a history of success with domestic violence charges. There is too much at stake to take these charges lightly.