Police and civic leaders have highlighted a rise in domestic violence in Dallas as a factor behind a spike in the city’s homicide rate in 2019. A new approach entails more warrants for domestic abusers and agencies working more closely together.
The Dallas Morning News reported domestic-violence slayings made up at least 32 of the 210 homicides recorded in the city in 2019. More people lost their lives to violent crime in Dallas last year than at any time in the last decade. Dallas had more than 200 domestic-violence aggravated assaults during that same period.
The Morning News stated Dallas leaders set goals to reduce the killings in the city in 2020. They back a more nuanced approach to tackling domestic violence in Dallas.
The report stated the police department created a new team in the family violence unit that’s serving increasing numbers of warrants for alleged domestic abusers. City Mayor, Eric Johnson, wants a task force to reduce family-violence aggravated assaults by 25 percent over three years.
Jan Langbein, the CEO of Genesis Women’s Shelter, told the Morning News she favors a partnership approach because domestic violence is complicated. The crime often occurs behind closed doors and there are no witnesses. It can come down to a claim and counter-claim situation. She said 911 calls are hazardous for officers because abusers may become violent with first responders.
Langbein said addressing domestic violence in a community typically requires teamwork among agencies including the police, service providers, prosecutors, and others.
Figures from early 2020, suggest Dallas’s homicide rate is falling compared to the previous year. Johnson said in an interview with the Dallas Morning News last month that violent crime over the first two months of the year showed mixed results. Although homicides fell, aggravated assaults rose. The Mayor said the city needs to do more to tackle aggravated assaults.
Domestic violence cases comprise about a quarter of the 1,049 aggravated assaults recorded in the first two months of 2020, according to the most recent Dallas police crime statistics. Texas takes domestic violence crimes very seriously.
What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence in Dallas?
1 Domestic Assault
Domestic assault is defined in Chapter 5 of the Penal Code. Suspects can be charged with domestic assault for making a threat or committing a violent act against someone they are in a relationship with. People in any of the following relationships can be charged with domestic violence in Texas.
• A direct family member;
• A party in the accused’s household;
• A current spouse;
• A former spouse;
• Someone the suspect has a child or children with;
• A foster parent or a foster child of the accused;
• Any family member by blood, marriage or adoption;
• Someone the offender lives with;
• A person the alleged offender is dating.
You can commit a domestic assault by an intentional, knowing, or reckless act. The offense entails a bodily threat or the threat of imminent bodily injury. You can be convicted of a domestic assault even if you did not think bodily contact was unreasonable if the victim considered the act provocative or offensive.
A first conviction for a domestic assault in Texas is a Class A misdemeanor. People with previous convictions can be charged with a third-degree felony.
2 Aggravated Domestic Assault
When people in relationships cause serious bodily injuries to each other, they can be charged with aggravated domestic assault. An aggravated domestic assault charge is also brought when a deadly weapon is involved in the crime. Aggravated domestic assault charges are brought by prosecutors when the victim suffers serious injuries like fractures, broken
bones or head injuries.
Aggravated domestic assault is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
3 Continuous Violence Against the Family
A charge of continuous violence against the family is brought for ongoing acts of domestic violence. It is reserved for defendants accused of two or more domestic assaults over a longer period. Prosecutors may charge a suspect for alleged assaults on multiple victims. Defendants who are convicted of continuous violence against the family face a third-degree felony, punishable by two to 10 years in prison.
Domestic violence in Dallas and elsewhere in Texas is a complicated crime with may possible defenses. A domestic violence charge can result in a long period of incarceration, the loss of your home and family relationships. Make sure to contact an experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible if you have been charged with a domestic violence offense in Texas.