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Family Violence Registry in Texas: Will Texas Have a Domestic Violence Registry Just Like the Sex Offenders Registry? Maybe.

Family violence cases involve lots of different scenarios.  There can be disputes between husbands and wives; couples who are dating; even two roommates fighting in their dorm room can form the basis of a domestic violence charge.

Many of these cases involve people who care about or love each other whose passions got the better of them and circumstances escalated into some kind of physical altercation.  By definition, strangers are not involved here: it’s people who are (or have been) married or dating (Texas Penal Code Section 71.0021); people who are roommates (Texas Penal Code Section 71.005); or members of the same family (Texas Penal Code Section 71.003).

(For details on Family Violence law in the State of Texas, check out our summary article “Domestic Assault – Family Violence Charges in Texas: Domestic Disputes Can Mean Serious Consequences.” )

Which means that the new piece of proposed legislation that just passed the Texas House and today sets before the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee for consideration has the power to impact lots of Texas families as well as the lives of those individuals who defend against domestic violence charges here in Texas.

House Bill 21 Passes, Now Texas Senate Considers Legislation to Create a Domestic Violence Registry

Today, the Texas Senate was back in session at 10:30 am to work on passing new laws and sending them to the Governor’s desk before the end of this legislative session.  The 2013 Legislative Session runs from January 8, 2013 and ends on May 27, 2013.

Which sounds like a piece of legislation that just hit the Senate doors might not have enough time to get through the hurdles needed to get it signed, sealed, and delivered to Rick Perry.  After all, it’s only five more days (counting today).

Still, this was a bipartisan piece of legislation and lots of people in Austin are all for this thing. Moreover, the media is reporting the new proposal as a done deal: that Texas can expect to see this law take effect soon.

What Would This New Law Do – And What Will Be The Result?

So, what does this bill do?  It creates a registry for those individuals who have been convicted of domestic violence which would be established and run in a similar manner to the current Texas Sex Offenders Registry. Which means that family members, friends, couples in love, college roommates, etc. could all be impacted by this new idea.

From the language of the bill itself:

Sec. 411.1355. CENTRAL DATABASE OF OFFENDERS WHO HAVE COMMITTED OFFENSES INVOLVING FAMILY VIOLENCE. (a) The department shall maintain a computerized central database containing information regarding persons who:

(1) on three or more occasions have been convicted of an offense for which an affirmative finding was made under Article 42.013 or 42.015, Code of Criminal Procedure, the most recent of which was an offense under:

(A) Section 22.01, Penal Code, for which the punishment was enhanced because the offense was committed against a person whose relationship to or association with the defendant is described by Section 71.0021(b), 71.003, or 71.005, Family Code; or

(B) Section 25.11, Penal Code; and

(2) were 17 years of age or older on the date at least three of the offenses described by Subdivision (1) were committed.

(b) The information contained in the database is public information, with the exception of any information:

(1) regarding the person’s social security number, driver’s license number, or telephone number; or

(2) that would identify the victim of the offense with respect to which the affirmative finding was made.

True, the proposed law will not force anyone to put their name on a public registry until they have three convictions of a certain type of their records. However, this registry still has the potential to detrimentally impact so many people – not just the person who would be listed on the registry, but also their families and loved ones. Victims rights advocates are also questioning whether or not the money needed to fund this new Domestic Violence Registry might not be better served by providing more revenue to existing victims’ organizations.

Family Violence Defense Becomes Much More Vital to Texas Defendants Facing Domestic Violence Charges

One clear result of this proposed legislation:  anyone facing a domestic violence or family violence charge in the State of Texas needs to be vigilant about protecting their rights — and their future.  If this Domestic Violence Registry does not pass before May 27th, it has a lot of backing and we should probably consider that it will be introduced again in the next Legislative Session.

This means that anyone facing any family violence or domestic violence charge needs to fight for his rights with an experienced criminal defense attorney in order to defend not only against the current charge but also to protect their future record.

If a registry is created, then it’s important to keep domestic violence and family violence charges in mind for their cumulative impact:  sure, the roommate fight that got out of hand might not seem such a big deal now, but if two years from now there is another assault charge, then that roommate fight may become a very big deal in future tallies.

Michael Lowe and Family Violence Defense

Over the years, many people facing charges of Texas domestic violence have walked through the doors of The Law Offices of Michael Lowe.  These kinds of criminal charges are something the local District Attorney’s offices pursue quite often.  Still, being charged with family violence doesn’t mean the deal is done.

Consider these two recent entries in the Case Results page of the DallasJustice.com web site:

Dallas County Felony Assault Family Violence 2nd Case Dismissed

Mr. Lowe’s client has previously been convicted for misdemeanor Family Violence Assault. The client was arrested and charged again and the charge was enhanced to a Felony Family Violence Assault. Mr. Lowe was able to persuade the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office to dismiss the case; no probation, no fine. The client will soon be eligible to have the entire incident removed from his record with a Petition to Expunge under article 55.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.  February 8th, 2013.

3 Family Violence Cases Will Be Expunged

Mr. Lowe’s client was arrested for and charged with Class “A” Family Violence Assault. Mr. Lowe’s client was bonded out and was subsequently arrested a few months later with Class “A” Family Violence Assault and Interfering With a 911/Emergency Call. Mr. Lowe was able to get both Class “A” Assault cases reduced to Class “C” deferred adjudication and have the Interfering With 911/Emergency Call case dismissed. Mr. Lowe’s client will soon be eligible to have all of the records related to both arrests and the 3 charges permanently expunged from his record pursuant to 55.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. February 25th, 2013

All case results are case-specific and do not imply any particular result will be obtained in your case.

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