The federal government understands its role in helping end the problem of family violence, commonly referred to as domestic violence, in homes and other locations all over the United States. CBS DFW reported on September 4, 2020, that the Justice Department’s Office of Violence Against Women will direct more than $18 million in grant funding to Texas to support efforts to curb domestic violence throughout the state.
The grants will provide resources to local prosecutors, victim service providers, healthcare professionals, training organizations, and academic researchers. Attorney General William P. Barr formed the Domestic Violence Working Group in June 2019 to encourage prosecution of armed domestic violence offenders.
The concern in Texas has been elevated during the times of COVID-19, as there have been some reported surges in family violence cases statewide. Texas Monthly reported in May 2020 that the Dallas Police Department reported a 20.3 percent increase in domestic violence reports from February to March, while there was a 40 percent jump in calls and requests for shelter in Houston and higher death rates from domestic violence reported in San Antonio.
One study examined domestic violence crimes in Dallas for an 83-day period before the stay-at-home order was mandated and the 35-day period thereafter, finding an increase in domestic violence in the first two weeks after the stay-at-home order was implemented but then a decrease thereafter. The Family Violence Incident List, which includes misdemeanor and felony domestic violence, child abuse, elderly abuse, and sexual assault for offenses between January 1, 2020 and April 27, 2020, showed 118 days of incident counts indicating domestic violence increased after March 24 and decreased after April 7.
Among the $18 million in awards that will be issued to organizations and government agencies in Texas are:
- Over $11.8 million in formula funds to the state to support law enforcement, prosecutors, victim services providers, and courts in working collaboratively to respond to domestic and sexual violence.
- $1.76 million to cities and counties across Texas to improve the criminal justice response to domestic and sexual violence.
- $2.85 million to domestic violence organizations to provide legal service to victims.
- $1.54 million to advocacy groups to help underserved populations, including disabled victims and minority victims of domestic violence: $588,297 to Saheli, Inc., $500,000 to Brownsville Friendship of Women, Inc., $450,000 to the SAFE Alliance in Austin.
- More than $500,000 to domestic violence shelters to provide transitional housing and therapy services.
- $152,345 to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault plus $91,274 to the Texas Council on Family Violence, two statewide organizations working to address violence against women.
New projects to provide critical training and technical assistance throughout the country will include:
- The $5 million new National Violence Against Women Law Enforcement Training and Technical Assistance Consortium, a project with the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, in Florida, will deliver training on investigating and responding to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
- $675,000 to continue the work of the San Diego-based Alliance for HOPE’s Training Institute for Strangulation Prevention, which provides education on investigating and prosecuting nonfatal strangulation in domestic violence cases.
- $400,000 to the International Association of Forensic Nurses, headquartered in Maryland, to develop a national protocol to guide medical-forensic care for domestic violence victims who seek treatment for their injuries.
If COVID-19 has made problems worse in your home and you are dealing with a family violence issue, you are encouraged to contact the Family Violence Program (800-799-SAFE ), which provides emergency shelter and supportive services to victims and their children, educates the public, and provides training, and prevention support to various organizations across Texas. All services are provided for free and there is no income verification for eligibility.
An increased focus on family violence crimes in Texas will mean that there will probably also be more arrests relating to domestic violence incidents. People need to understand that when police respond to family violence calls, their visits at home frequently end with at least one person being arrested.
Domestic assault is undoubtedly the most common criminal offense as it relates to family violence. It is incredibly easy for a person to be charged with this crime because any one of a number of different actions viewed as being aggressive could be construed to be grounds for an assault charge, including a shove, a restraint hold, or any one of many other possible shows of force.
Assault by strangulation means that a Class A misdemeanor domestic assault charge can become a third-degree felony. This crime involves an alleged offender committing an offense by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of the alleged victim by applying pressure to the alleged victim’s throat or neck or by blocking the alleged victim’s nose or mouth.
Some family violence cases may involve children, and interference with child custody occurs when an alleged offender knows that his or her taking or retention violates the express terms of a judgment or order, including a temporary order, of a court, disposing of the child’s custody; the alleged offender has not been awarded custody of the child by a court of competent jurisdiction, knows that a suit for divorce or a civil suit or application for habeas corpus to dispose of the child’s custody has been filed, and takes the child out of the geographic area of the counties composing the judicial district if the court is a district court or the county if the court is a statutory county court, without the permission of the court and with the intent to deprive the court of authority over the child; or outside of the United States with the intent to deprive a person entitled to possession of or access to the child of that possession or access and without the permission of that person.
All people accused of domestic violence crimes need to know that they can have defenses against the criminal charges they face. While the initial arrest and filing of criminal charges can leave many people feeling as though they face an insurmountable journey to prove their innocence, a lawyer can help by conducting their own independent investigation to help uncover evidence that can be used to prove your case.
If you are the victim of a family violence incident, our website has a domestic violence resources page dedicated to providing helpful information. We encourage you to take the steps necessary for the safety of yourself and your family.
If you were arrested for any kind of crime of family violence in the greater Dallas area, you are going to want to be sure that you have an attorney who is adept at handling these types of cases. The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy has been defending individuals all over North Texas against all kinds of domestic violence charges for decades.
Our firm can sit down with you and take the time to discuss everything that is going on with you so we can help you get the answers you need. We will begin with a complete review of your case as soon as you call (972) 233-5700 or contact us online for a free consultation.