San Antonio Domestic Violence Lawyer
Defending Your Rights in & out of Court
If you're involved in a domestic violence case, please consider contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233 or texting 1-800-787-3224. Alternatively, this list of domestic violence resources and shelters in San Antonio can help you stay safe until you acquire further help.
For survivors/victims in domestic violence cases, knowing where (or how) to get help can seem daunting. You deserve strong legal counsel who will fight for your rights and help you take the necessary measures, such as filing for a protective order, to ensure you remain safe throughout your case.
At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, our San Antonio criminal defense attorney will work with you to defend your rights and help you maintain your well-being during your case.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Section 22.01 defines domestic violence as intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
- Causing bodily injury to someone;
- Threatening someone with bodily harm or;
- Initiating contact the perpetrator knows will be deemed offensive;
Against a family member, member of the household, or current or past romantic partner.
Texas courts consider domestic violence a Class C misdemeanor. That means it's punishable by up to one year in jail at a minimum or, depending on the severity of the charges, up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Factors such as whether the incident involved strangulation, whether it was a repeat offense, and the victim's relationship with the alleged perpetrator can all result in increased penalties.
How Can I Defend Myself Against Domestic Violence?
The most common way for survivors/victims of domestic violence to defend themselves is by filing for a protective order.
There are three kinds of protective orders in Texas:
- Magistrate's order of temporary protection;
- Temporary ex parte protective order, and;
- Final protective order.
Magistrate's protective orders are also commonly called "emergency protective orders." Criminal courts can issue a magistrate's order after arresting an individual for domestic violence. They tend to be issued when a law enforcement officer arrives on the scene where domestic violence occurs and arrests the alleged abuser on site.
When a survivor/victim seeks the help of a civil court to press domestic violence charges, they can receive a temporary ex parte protective order.
To issue an ex parte order, only one party involved in the case (the survivor/victim) must be present. Judges issue temporary ex parte orders when they believe a survivor/victim is in imminent danger of bodily harm or further abuse. The temporary order protects the survivor/victim by prohibiting the alleged abuser from interacting with them (physically or through other means, such as texts) until the court can hold a hearing.
Once the court arranges a hearing, both parties (through their legal counsel or by self-representing) have the opportunity to present evidence supporting their case. Once the judge hears from both parties, they will make a final judgment on the case.
If the judge decides the survivor/victim's accusations hold merit, they may issue a final protective order. Final orders generally last up to two years, but can receive extensions at the discretion of the court. If the alleged abuser commits certain acts, such as a felony or causing serious bodily harm, the judge can also establish a more long-term protective order.
At The Law Office of Derek S. Ritchie, PLLC, our San Antonio domestic assault attorney will work with you to advocate for your safety and rights during your domestic violence dispute.