Family Violence Unit - Texas Law
The primary duties of a peace officer who investigates a family violence allegation or who responds to a disturbance call that may involve family violence are to protect any potential victim of family violence, enforce the law of this state, enforce a protective order from another jurisdiction as provided by Chapter 88, Family Code, and make lawful arrests of violators.
Family violence is abuse comprised a behavior including physical or sexual abuse, violent or threatening behavior, controlling or coercive behavior, economic abuse and psychological, emotional, or other abuse.
Under Texas law, family violence occurs when on member of a family or household acts in a way towards another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, assault, or sexual assault. Threats of physical harm, assault, or sexual assault by one member of the family or household also meets the definition of family violence.
Family violence may be prosecuted under a range of offenses, and it does not matter whether the behavior consists of a single incident or a course of conduct.
The Texas Family Code, Chapter 71.004, defines Family Violence as "an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself." The law includes abuse; defined as physical injury that results in substantial harm or genuine threat; sexual contact, intercourse, or conduct; or compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct. The law excludes the reasonable discipline of a child. For Family Violence Reporting, the law defines "family" to include individuals related by consanguinity (blood) or affinity, marriage or former marriage, biological parents of the same child, foster children, foster parents, and members or former members of the same household (including roommates regardless of gender). Texas Family Code Chapter 71 includes "Dating Violence" in the family violence reporting. The law defines "Dating Relationship" as a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.
The Texas Penal Code 22.01, Assault, a person commits an offense if the person: intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to another, including the person's spouse; intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person's spouse or intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
This offense of Assault is a Class A Misdemeanor, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the offense is committed against a public servant while the public servant is lawfully discharging an official duty…; a person whose relationship to or association with the defendant is described by the Family Code and it is shown on trial of the offense that the defendant has been previously convicted of an offense under this chapter, Chapter 19, against a person whose relationship to or association with the defendant is described in the Family Code; or (B) the offense is committed by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of the person by applying pressure to the person's throat or neck or by blocking the person's nose or mouth.
Texas Penal Code 22.02, Aggravated Assault, a person commits an offense if the person commits assault as defined in Sections 22.01 and the person cause serious bodily injury to another, including the person's spouse; or uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.
The Offense Aggravated Assault is a felony of the second degree, except a felony of the first degree if the actor uses a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault and cause serious bodily injury to the person whose relationship is defined in the Family Code.
Texas Penal Code 25.11, Continuous Violence Against The Family, a person commits an offense if, during a period that is 12 months or less in duration, the person two or more times engages in conduct that constitutes an offense under 22.01, (1) against a another person or persons as defined by the Family Code…
An offense of Continuous Violence Against The Family is a felony of the third degree.
Texas Penal Code 20.03, Kidnapping, a person commits an offense if he intentionally abducts another person. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution if the abductions was not coupled with intent to use or to threaten to use deadly force; the actor was a relative of the person abducted; and the actor's sole intent was to assume lawful control of the victim.
An offense of Kidnapping is a felony of the third degree.
If you are in immediate danger call 9-1-1. If you are in a non-emergency situation in the city of Houston city limits and need non-emergency police response dial (713)884-3131. For additional information contact the Houston Police Department's Family Violence Unit (713)-308-1100.
Legal Resource & Informational Links:
Harris County District Attorney's Office-Domestic Violence Division (Criminal)
The Domestic Violence Division prosecutors handle domestic violence criminal cases, violations of protective orders cases and interference with child custody cases.
Harris County District Clerk – Family Courts (Civil)
The Family Courts decide on matters and render judgements relating to families and children. Case types heard in Family Court include divorce, child custody, child support, visitation rights, protective orders, and the emancipation of minors.
Houston Volunteer Lawyers (Civil)
Legal advocacy to eligible families facing civil legal issues including: divorce; custody/visitation and support-Harris County.
Lone Star Legal Aid (Civil)
Legal advocacy to eligible families related to civil cases related to domestic violence and sexual assault.
Legal advocacy to eligible families related to domestic violence and sexual assault protective orders, divorce, child custody, child support and adoption cases-Harris County; Fort Bend County & Montgomery.
Legal advocacy to eligible families related to domestic violence and sexual assault-Harris County.
Houston Bar Association-Family Law Handbook 2019-2020