What is Family Violence under Texas law?

he phrase “family violence” is defined by the Texas Family Code as an act by a member of a family or household against another member that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm. The phrase includes various types of sexual misconduct by a member of the family or household towards a child of the family or household. It also includes dating violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. 

This phrase is not meant to include defensive measures to protect oneself. 

The term “family” in the phrase refers to 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).

What do I do if I or a family member becomes a victim of family violence?

The first thing you should do is immediatelycall 911 to request emergency medical services, if needed, and to report the crime to law enforcement.  The sooner the police arrive, the better they will be able to investigate the crime scene and collect important evidence which must be preserved for trial, such as taking fresh photos of any injuries that you may have suffered. 

How can I protect myself in the future?

If you are the victim of family violence, you will probably qualify for either a Protective Order, or a Restraining Order. They are both similar in that they are court orders designed to give you protection from future violent attacks. There are important differences, however.

The most important difference between the two involves the penalties imposed upon the perpetrator if he/she violates the order. In a Protective Order, the perpetrator can face serious criminal charges and go to jail if he/she is proven to have violated the terms of the order. The perpetrator can go to jail with a Restraining Order as well, but generally that does not happen since the violation of a Restraining Order is not considered a criminal offense. 

For this reason a Protective Order is typically used following an episode of family violence that is reported to the police; whereas a Restraining Order is more commonly used in divorces, child custody actions, and other civil litigation where you may be afraid the other party may do you physical harm or damage your property. With either remedy, you must expect to go to court in order to obtain the necessary protection. 

Oftentimes you can get a Protective Order at no cost by working with the victim assistance services offered by your local law enforcement agency. They will direct you to a Family Crisis Center (or similar organization) if there is one found in your community. That organization can help guide you through this legal process. You can also acquire a Protective Order or a Restraining Order by contacting an experienced private attorney who practices in family law and criminal law. 

Bigham Law Firm

Bigham Law Firm offers free consultations regarding criminal and family law issues. Our number is (979) 743-4153. We can also be reached through our website at www.bighamlawfirm.com 

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Ken Bigham Jr. has nearly three decades of experience navigating the law to protect his clients from unfair treatment by insurance companies, the government and corporations. He believes that Bigham Law’s purpose is to provide outstanding value to its clients and compassionate service to its community. 


Mr. Bigham and his staff have provided me with exceptional service. They have gone above and beyond to assist me with every detail regarding my case.

Tracie Corley, Texas<br />

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