A person commits domestic violence in Corpus Christi by intentionally causing or threatening to cause imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault to a member of a family or household. Pursuant to Chapter 71 of the Texas Family Code, the crime is referred to as Family Violence and includes:
- Violence against a family or a household member such as a parent, spouse, or grandparent
- Abuse against a child of the family or household
- Violence against a dating or romantic partner.
The elements of a domestic violence charge are not quite different from that of assault and other violent crimes in Corpus Christi. Indeed, the fundamental factor for the distinction between domestic violence and assault charges is the nature of the relationship between the offender and the victim. Violence against persons related by blood or affinity will often be charged as domestic violence. In 2018, law enforcement in Corpus Christi recorded 3,297 incidents of domestic violence which increased to 4,341 cases in 2020.
The consequences of being convicted of domestic violence are usually severe and may involve jail time, payment of huge fines, loss of firearms and hunting licenses, as well as loss of child custody in divorce cases. Non-citizens convicted of domestic violence may also face deportation and may be denied re-entry.
How to Report Domestic Violence in Corpus Christi
Incidences of domestic violence in Corpus Christi may be reported by either calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (877) 785-2020 or dialing the emergency number 9-1-1 in cases of imminent danger. Reports of domestic violence can also be made physically at the local police station situated at:
Corpus Christi Police Department
321 John Sartain Street
Corpus Christi, TX 78401
Phone: (361) 886-2600
In addition, victims of domestic violence may also contact organizations and agencies dealing with issues of family violence and child abuse. Some of the domestic shelters and organizations in Corpus Christi include:
Ark Assessment Center and Emergency
Phone: (361) 241-6566
Corpus Christi Hope House
Phone: (361) 852-2273
The Purple Door
Phone: (361) 881-8888
The Salvation Army Family Center Service
Phone: (361) 884-9497
The Word's Organization
Phone: (361) 480-8049
How Long do You Have to Report Domestic Violence in Corpus Christi?
Reports of domestic violence are usually required to be made within a period of three years in Corpus Christi. However, some domestic charges would have to be brought within two years to avoid being time-barred. For example, domestic assault charges are to be filed within two years by the prosecution since such offense is classified as a misdemeanor under Texas law. However, a charge of continuous violence against a family member must be brought within three years, considering the offense is a third-degree felony in Texas. The statute of limitation is the period within which the prosecution must file charges and indict the offender. Following the expiration of this period, the offense becomes statute-barred, and the court is prevented from exercising jurisdiction over the case. To avoid dismissal of a domestic violence charge based on the statute of limitation, it is essential to report the offense as soon as practicable to enable effective prosecution of the offender. Prompt reports can also provide ample time for the prosecutor to gather sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.
How to get Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed in Corpus Christi
Where there is substantial evidence to dispute a domestic evidence charge, a competent criminal defense lawyer can help the accused avoid conviction by relying on any of the following defenses:
- Self Defense: The defendant may rely on this defense to show that the use of force against the victim was done upon the reasonable belief that the victim was about to cause physical harm or bodily injury to the defendant. The law requires that such force be reasonable and proportionate to that used by the victim in a particular situation.
- Defense of others: A person is permitted under the law to use force in defense of others who are in imminent danger of physical harm or bodily injury. For this defense to apply, the defendant must show that the force used was reasonable and necessary in the circumstances.
- Defense of property: A person in lawful possession of the property may apply this defense to show that the use of force was done in the protection of property. As in the case of self-defense and defense of others, the extent of force used must be reasonable, necessary, and proportionate to the defense needed to protect the property in question.
- False accusations against the defendant: If the defense is able to prove that the accusations were made falsely and were driven solely to punish the defendant as a way of revenge or to obtain child custody in a divorce dispute, a domestic violence charge may be dismissed by the court.
- Absence of defendant's intention: Before a person can be convicted of a domestic violence charge, it must be shown that such person had the requisite intention to commit the offense. The court can therefore dismiss a domestic violence charge if the defendant is able to prove that the offense was committed either by way of an accident, duress, mistake of fact, or involuntary intoxication. The defense of necessity or mental illness may also apply in this regard.
Domestic violence charges in Corpus Christi usually encompass the following:
- Assault against a member of a family or household: This is called domestic assault under Texas law. It involves the threatening or causing of bodily injury or offensive contact against a family or household member. The offense is a class A misdemeanor when the victim suffers bodily injury or physical harm and is punishable by year imprisonment and a $4000 fine. The offense is, however, a class C misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $500 where the offender threatens to cause imminent physical harm or causes offensive contact against the victim. Notably, previous criminal records for domestic assault or suffocating the victim would result in a third-degree felony conviction. This attracts a penalty of two to 10 years imprisonment plus a fine of up to $10,000.
- Aggravated assault against a family or household member: This occurs when the assault causes serious bodily injury to the victim or involves the use or display of a deadly weapon such as a knife or firearm against a family or household member. Aggravated domestic assault is a second-degree felony punishable by imprisonment that lasts between two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000. Where the conduct constituting the charge involves both a deadly weapon and serious bodily injury to the victim, the offense becomes a felony in the first degree which is punishable by imprisonment for five to 99 years and a $10,000 fine.
- Repeated violence against the Family: This charge involves committing two or more acts of domestic assault within a year. When considering the issues related to repeated violence against a family member, the most important factor is whether the accused’s previous actions within one year were considered acts of domestic violence. Neither the accused’s previous conviction of domestic violence nor the victim being the same or a different person would be considered as factors for establishing repeated violence against family members. The offense is also a third-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Violating Protective Orders: Where the victim obtains a family violence protective order, the court will give specific instructions prohibiting the accused from contacting or approaching the victim. Violating this protective order is a class A misdemeanor punishable by a year of jail time and a fine of up to $4,000. If the accused has a record of conviction for the offense or if they stalked or assaulted the victim, the offense becomes a third-degree felony punishable by imprisonment for two to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
What Happens if the Victim doesn't Show up at the Trial for the Domestic Violence Charge in Corpus Christi?
Different measures can be adopted by the state to get a victim of domestic violence to appear in court. One of these measures is to subpoena the victim and have them testify in court. Although spousal testimonial privilege may be available to a victim to prevent such a person from being compelled to testify against their spouse, this would not be applicable in a domestic violence case in Corpus Christi. Under Texas Evidence law, an exception to spousal privilege is applicable when one spouse is being charged with an offense against the other. Victims who refuse to testify in this case may face contempt of court charges. In addition, the state may decide to proceed with a domestic violence charge without the victim, depending on the strength of evidence available before the court. Required evidence would include medical records, evidence of the victim's bodily injuries, police testimony, and statements of witnesses. Consideration may also be given to the prior criminal records of the accused with respect to pursuing a domestic violence charge. If such previous convictions are of any relevance to the charge, the state may decide to prosecute.