Collateral Consequences of Domestic Violence Conviction

Crimes of family violence, or domestic violence, can result in huge punishment for alleged offenders, and they also can result in long term and far-reaching consequences. If you are accused of assault of a family member in Texas, it is critically important to hire a lawyer to try and fight to get the criminal charges dismissed to avoid the possible damage to your reputation and criminal record. If necessary, you may need to fight your case at trial to try to get the best result.

According to Texas Family Code § 71.004 family violence is defined as:

(1) 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;

(2) abuse, as that term is defined by Texas Family Code Sections 261.001, by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household means either physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm; sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare, including conduct that constitutes the offense of continuous sexual abuse of young child or children under Texas Penal Code § 21.02, indecency with a child under Texas Penal Code § 21.11,, sexual assault under Texas Penal Code § 22.011,, or aggravated sexual assault under Texas Penal Code § 22.021; compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct as defined by Texas Penal Code § 43.01, including compelling or encouraging the child in a manner that constitutes an offense of trafficking of persons under Texas Penal Code § 20A.02(a)(7) or (8), prostitution under Texas Penal Code § 43.02(b), or compelling prostitution under Texas Penal Code § 43.05(a)(2); causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the photographing, filming, or depicting of the child if the person knew or should have known that the resulting photograph, film, or depiction of the child is obscene as defined by Texas Penal Code § 43.21, or pornographic; the current use by a person of a controlled substance as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code, in a manner or to the extent that the use results in physical, mental, or emotional injury to a child; causing, expressly permitting, or encouraging a child to use a controlled substance as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code; causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing a sexual performance by a child as defined by Texas Penal Code § 43.25; or forcing or coercing a child to enter into a marriage; or,

(3) dating violence, as that term is defined by Section 71.0021, means an act, other than a defensive measure to protect oneself, by an actor that is committed against a victim or applicant for a protective order with whom the actor has or has had a dating relationship, or because of the victim’s or applicant’s marriage to or dating relationship with an individual with whom the actor is or has been in a dating relationship or marriage; and is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the victim or applicant in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault. A “dating relationship” is defined as a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on consideration of the length of the relationship, the nature of the relationship, and the frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

Effects of Domestic Violence Conviction on Life

The effects a family violence conviction have on a person's daily life include some of the most profound consequences. These convictions, in multiple ways, can affect many aspects of a person's daily life.

Examples of how a domestic violence conviction can affect a person’s regular life include:

  • You cannot obtain a fishing or hunting license in Texas,
  • Your divorce or child custody proceedings could be adversely affected,
  • You may be unable to foster or adopt a child,
  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, you could lose your legal residence status,
  • You may be denied housing, and
  • You may be subject to the terms of either an Emergency Protective Order authorized by the Code of Criminal Procedure, or a Protective Order authorized by the Family Code.

Subsequent Offenses Can Be Enhanced to Felony Charges

It is also crucial to know that after being convicted of domestic violence or even successfully completing a deferred adjudication probation, all subsequent domestic violence charges can be enhanced. Texas Penal Code § 22.01(b) states that an assault offense under Texas Penal Code § 22.01(a)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a third-degree felony if the offense is committed against a person whose relationship to or association with the defendant is described by Texas Family Code § 71.0021(b), 71.003, or 71.005, meaning dating violence, family, or household if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been previously convicted of an offense under this chapter, Chapter 19, or Texas Penal Code § 20.03 (kidnapping), 20.04 (aggravated kidnapping), 21.11 (indecency with a child), or 25.11 (continuous violence against the family) against a person whose relationship to or association with the defendant is described by Texas Family Code § 71.0021(b), 71.003, or 71.005.

An affirmative finding of family violence on even a Class C Misdemeanor could allow the state to file a subsequent family violence case as a felony charge. Additionally, family violence charges cannot be expunged or sealed from your permanent record, so the conviction or even completed deferred probation will permanently tarnish your reputation for life.

Houston, TX Family Violence Lawyer

If you were recently arrested for a crime of family violence in the greater Houston area, you should quickly seek legal representation. Call James G. Sullivan & Associates so you can have the best chance of possibly getting your criminal case dismissed.

Our law firm understands family violence charges are extremely personal in nature and knows how overwhelming it can be for a person to try and resolve these problems on their own. We can be by your side throughout the court process, and we review your case as soon as you call (281) 546-6458 to schedule a free consultation.

Effects of Family Violence Conviction on Work

In addition to the effects that domestic violence convictions can have on a person’s daily life, there can also be an immediate and negative impact on a person’s ability to work. People usually spend most of their time in their daily lives at their workplace, and the impact a domestic violence crime has on a career can be crushing.

A domestic violence conviction could result in some of these possible consequences on work:

  • You could lose your current job,
  • You may not be eligible for public service positions,
  • You could lose professional licenses, and
  • You cannot own or possess a firearm, which may rule out employment in law enforcement.

If you are unemployed, it is crucial to know that a domestic violence conviction could affect your ability to find a job. The family violence charge will show up on most background checks and some employers refuse to hire a person because of such a conviction.

Criminal Law FAQs

 

Do I really need a lawyer for my criminal case?

Yes. You really do. Simply by being accused of a crime places you at greater risk for spending time in prison or jail. And you do not want to find yourself lost and alone in the Texas criminal justice system. It can be just as cold, harsh, and unforgiving as for those lost in the wilderness. The old saying that one who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer is certainly true. It is risky to represent yourself. You place yourself at the mercy of prosecutors who can take advantage of you, even if you have no criminal record, and overburden you with a punishment much more harsh than usual.

What should I look for in hiring a criminal defense attorney?

Choosing a criminal defense attorney to represent you or a loved one is a huge decision. The outcome of your case can highly depend on the experience, expertise, and reputation of the criminal defense lawyer you hire. It is important you hire the right one.

Experience. You need a lawyer with significant experience in the area of law where your problem lies. If you or a loved one are charged with a crime, you need a lawyer experienced in criminal law.

Expertise. Criminal law is a specialized area of law that follows different procedures and rules. Few lawyers specialize in this area of law. Many lawyers are general practitioners, so-called “jacks of all trade,” that practice many different areas of law yet lack significant experience in any one area.

Reputation. Lawyers that have a reputation for winning cases at trial generally obtain better results for their clients than lawyers that do not fight cases at trial. Does the lawyer genuinely care for his clients? What do other lawyers think of him or her? Has the lawyer ever been sanctioned for misconduct? Answers to these questions can be found at www.avvo.com and www.texasbar.com.

At James G. Sullivan & Associates, our Houston trial lawyers are experienced in criminal law. Our lawyers have fought and won felony and misdemeanor jury trials in criminal court. They have handled thousands of criminal cases. James Sullivan has practiced criminal law since 1994, and Nancy Botts since 1988. Sullivan graduated from The Trial Lawyers College, the most selective and prestigious trial advocacy program in America.

When should I hire an attorney?

It is smart to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Lawyers can take steps to put their clients in a better position to get a case dismissed or to negotiate a plea before trial begins. Seasoned criminal trial attorneys know how to conduct a thorough investigation of the criminal issue and can present evidence supporting your case.

When you retain our firm, we will start working on your legal matter promptly so that your legal concern can be resolved quickly.

How much does it cost to hire a criminal defense lawyer in Harris County?

Legal fees are also an important consideration in selecting a lawyer, but do you really want the cheapest criminal defense lawyer when your freedom and reputation are at stake? The old saying you get what you pay for is most certainly true when it comes to legal fees. Quality and effective representation is what you deserve and hope to find, and that representation ought to come at a fair price.

At James G. Sullivan & Associates, we aim to provide quality and effective representation at a reasonable cost.

Do I have to appear in court?

Yes. If you have an order to appear in court and you fail to make it, your bond could be revoked, and you could go to jail. It is wise to arrange for child care and time off from work for your court date so that you can appear.

Note: During the pandemic, you may have the option to appear in court remotely via Zoom. You should contact the court or your attorney in advance to find out.

Should I stop smoking marijuana after an arrest?

Yes. If you are released on bond, you should follow the court-ordered terms of your release. Engaging in unlawful activity, such as smoking marijuana or using other illegal narcotics, may violate these terms. You could go back to jail for committing a crime while awaiting your trial.

Isn’t it cheaper to pay the fine and accept the punishment than fight minor charges?

No, not in the long way. Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor shoplifting or an assault causing bodily injury, pleading guilty to these offenses and other misdemeanors can have expensive, long-term consequences. Misdemeanor theft or assault convictions are recorded on your permanent criminal record, which potential employers or landlords can access through background checks. Even a misdemeanor charge can cost you a potential job, career choice, or housing option. Over a lifetime, the potential loss of higher income for not being able to pursue a more lucrative career path or the cost of having to pay higher interest rates for auto and home loans can be staggering.

Contact James G. Sullivan & Associates to consult with experienced Houston Criminal Lawyers at (281) 546-6428.

Unlawful Disclosure of Intimate Visual Material | Harris County Criminal Lawyers

Revenge Porn


The prosecution of cases involving revenge porn has become more widespread in Texas. The term revenge porn refers to the act of sharing nude photographs or videos of a person without their consent. Recently, revenge porn is in more news stories.
Unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material, otherwise known as revenge porn, is a serious crime. Revenge porn is used by offenders to harass, embarrass, or shame their victims. It is often done by the posting of revealing or sexually explicit images or videos of a person on the Internet, usually by an angry ex-lover, without the consent of the subject and in order to harm them. It can also refer to an offender threatening a victim with the disclosure of such images or videos in order to obtain a benefit, such as financial gain.
To gain the most exposure, the offender will usually upload the intimate material to popular websites where such material is easily available. To further traumatize the victim, the offender sometimes includes with the material the victim’s identifying information, including their name, address, profession and social media accounts.
In 2015, the Texas Legislature enacted the statute that made the unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material a crime. This statute makes revenge porn a felony sexual offense and can result in harsh punishment.

Attorney for Revenge Porn Crimes in Houston, TX

Criminal charges for revenge porn can ruin your personal and professional life. Not only can you face serious punishment, but you could also be left stigmatized in your own community.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a revenge porn crime in the Greater Houston area, it is important you seek an experienced criminal lawyer.
The defense attorneys at James G. Sullivan & Associates represent clients in criminal cases involving revenge porn. These cases can be difficult to defend. Sometimes the charges require expert witness testimony and a complete understanding of different Internet platforms.
Our lawyers at James G. Sullivan & Associates are experienced in defending sex crimes and criminal revenge porn cases in the greater Houston area. Call us today at (281) 546-6428 for a free initial consultation on any revenge porn case in Harris County and surrounding counties.

Revenge Porn Defined under Texas Law

Texas Penal Code Sec. 21.16 does not use the term revenge porn. Instead Texas law defines so-called revenge porn as the unlawful disclosure or promotion of intimate visual material.
According to the statute, a person commits an offense if:
  • Without the consent of the depicted person and with the intent to harm that person, the offender discloses visual material depicting another person with the person’s intimate parts exposed or engaged in sexual conduct;
  • At the time of the disclosure, the offender knows or has reason to believe that the visual material was obtained by him or created under circumstances in which the depicted person had a reasonable expectation that the visual material would remain private;
  • The disclosure of the visual material causes harm to the depicted person; and
  • The disclosure of the visual material reveals the identity of the depicted person in any manner, including through:
  • Any accompanying or subsequent information or material related to the visual material; or
  • Information or material provided by a third party in response to the disclosure of the visual material.
A person also commits this offense if the offender intentionally threatens to disclose, without the consent of the depicted person, visual material depicting another person with the person’s intimate parts exposed or engaged in sexual conduct and the offender makes the threat to obtain a benefit:
  • In return for not making the disclosure; or
  • In connection with the threatened disclosure.
Lastly, a person also commits this offense if, knowing the character and content of the visual material, the offender promotes visual material described above on an Internet website or other forum for publication that is owned or operated by him.

Possible Punishment for Revenge Porn

Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code lists the felony punishment for revenge porn in Houston.
Revenge porn is usually charged as a state jail felony. A conviction for such a felony is punishable by confinement in a state jail for any term between 180 days and two years, and a fine up to $10,000.

Possible Defenses to Revenge Porn

Now that revenge porn is covered more in the news, the general public has grown more disgusted by the acts of alleged offenders. If you have been charged with unlawful disclosure of sensitive materials, you need a strong legal defense.
These are some possible defenses that could reduce or mitigate the charge:
  • Establishing you had “effective consent” of the depicted person in the sensitive visual material;
  • Refuting that you knew the character and content of the visual material you are accused of promoting online; or
  • Refuting that the disclosure of the visual material caused harm to the depicted person

Finding an Attorney for Revenge Porn Charges in Harris County, TX

If you or a loved one have been charged with revenge porn or related sex crime, contact an attorney at James G. Sullivan & Associates for a free initial consultation. Call today at (281) 546-6428 for a free initial consultation on any revenge porn case in Harris County, Fort Bend County and Montgomery County.
Our attorneys advocate zealously for our clients. We work hard to get the best possible outcome for your case.

James G. Sullivan & Associates | Houston Revenge Porn Lawyer

James Sullivan graduated from Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, the most selective and prestigious trial advocacy program in America. Sullivan has a proven record of defending people from all walks of life, faiths and countries in courts throughout Texas.

Aggravated Kidnapping | Harris County Criminal Lawyers

Aggravated Kidnapping


Aggravated kidnapping is a serious felony offense in Houston. A conviction for aggravated kidnapping can result in severe punishment, including lengthy prison time and a large fine. Such a conviction can also adversely impact your professional career, personal life, and basic civil rights.
It is important to hire an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer because criminal charges for aggravated kidnapping do not have to result in a conviction and the resulting lifelong consequences. In order to convict you, the state prosecutor must prove to a jury that you committed every element of the felony offense beyond a reasonable doubt. With an experienced trial lawyer defending you, this can be a very difficult burden to meet, and any reasonable doubt in the mind of any of the members of the jury can result in a not guilty verdict or a hung jury. Therefore, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal attorney in Houston who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.

Attorney for Aggravated Kidnapping Lawyer in Houston, Texas

If you or a loved one has been charged with aggravated kidnapping in Harris county (Houston), or any of the surrounding counties in Texas, including Montgomery (Conroe), or Fort Bend (Richmond),  contact James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free consultation at (281) 546-6428.  Attorney James (Jim) Sullivan will fight for your rights, freedom and future.
Texas Penal Code Sec. 20.03 defines kidnapping charges as intentionally or knowingly abducting another person. Texas Penal Code Sec. 20.01 defines “abduct” as to restrain a person with intent to prevent his liberation by secreting or holding him in a place where he is not likely to be found; or, by using or threatening to use deadly force.
A charge of aggravated kidnapping has enhanced punishment because it is considered a crime of violence.

What makes for an Aggravated Kidnapping under Texas Law?

According to Texas Penal Code Sec. 20.04, a person can be charged with aggravated kidnapping if he intentionally or knowingly abducts another person with the intent to:
  • hold him for ransom or reward;
  • use him as a shield or hostage;
  • facilitate the commission of a felony or the flight after the attempt or commission of a felony;
  • inflict bodily injury on him or violate or abuse him sexually;
  • terrorize him or a third person; or
  • interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.
In addition, the offender can be charged with aggravated kidnapping if he intentionally or knowingly abducts another person and uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense.

Punishment for Aggravated Kidnapping in Texas

Aggravated kidnapping carries serious punishment. Aggravated kidnapping is charged as a felony of the first degree.
If convicted of an aggravated kidnapping, the possible punishment range is:
  • incarceration in prison for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years, and a possible fine up to $10,000; or,
  • if at the punishment stage of a trial the offender proves that he voluntarily released the victim in a safe place, the conviction for an aggravated kidnapping is reduced to a felony of the second degree. This charge can result in incarceration in prison for any term of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years, and a possible fine up to $10,000.

Finding a Lawyer for Aggravated Kidnapping in Harris County, TX

Have you or a loved one been charged with kidnapping or related charges in the Greater Houston area? Call James G. Sullivan and Associates today for a free consultation.
Kidnapping is a serious crime that may result in an aggravated felony charge. The punishment for aggravated kidnapping relies heavily on intent, so a strong legal defense is necessary. It is vital that you do not speak with law enforcement before first speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney. It could be the difference between prison or exoneration.
If you are stressed out, overwhelmed and need guidance, call the lawyers at James G. Sullivan and Associates. We are dedicated to protecting your rights. We care about our clients and strive to get the best possible result.
We accept clients throughout the Greater Houston area, including Conroe in Montgomery County and Richmond in Fort Bend County.
Contact the attorneys at James G. Sullivan and Associates today at (281) 546-6428. Do not let this accusation consume and take over your life.

Interference with Emergency Call | Houston Criminal Lawyers

Interference with Emergency Call

Stopping someone from calling 911 may not seem serious, but under Texas law it is a crime. Interfering with an emergency phone call is a criminal offense according to Texas Penal Code Section 42.062. A person accused of such a crime can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
Frequently, interfering with an emergency request for assistance case stems from family violence. Every situation is different. There are many reasons why a person might stop another from calling 911. However, prosecutors take this Texas law very seriously and are not very sympathetic when it comes to preventing a 911 call. Because they mostly side with the alleged victim, the charge of interference with an emergency call can be hard to beat.
It is important to seek experienced legal representation if you’re charged with interference with an emergency call.

Houston Interference with Emergency Call

Have you or a loved one been charged with interfering with an emergency call? These cases usually rely heavily on the word of an alleged victim. To put such a person’s credibility in doubt you need effective legal representation. Contact James G. Sullivan and Associates today and talk with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
We represent people from all over the Greater Houston area including Katy, Cypress, Jersey Village, Tomball, Spring, Humble, Pasadena, and many other nearby communities. Each of our attorneys have over 25 years handling domestic violence charges in Harris County, Fort Bend County and Montgomery County. Do not let a misunderstanding end in a criminal record. Allow us to fight for you to get the best possible outcome for your case.
Call (281) 546-6428 for a free initial consultation.

Texas Law on Interference with Emergency Request for Assistance

The Texas Penal Code lists two ways for which a person can be charged with interference with an emergency call—
  1. Section 42.062(a) states that an individual commits a crime of interference with an emergency call when her or she knowingly:
    • Prevents or interferes with another individual’s ability to place an emergency call or to request assistance, including a request for assistance using an electronic communications device, in an emergency from a law enforcement agency, medical facility or other agency or entity the primary purpose of which is to provide for the safety of individuals.
  2. Section 42.062(b) states an individual can be charged with interference with an emergency call if he or she recklessly:
    • Recklessly renders unusable an electronic communications device, including a telephone, that would otherwise be used by another individual to place an emergency call or to request assistance in an emergency from a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or other agency or entity the primary purpose of which is to provide for the safety of individuals.
Section 42.062(d) defines “emergency’ as a condition or circumstance in which any individual is or is reasonably believed by the individual making a call or requesting assistance to be in fear of imminent assault or fear of damage to property.

Punishment for Interfering with an Emergency Call

Every circumstance is different. There are two sides to every story, especially when it involves dating and family relationships. However, Texas law can be severe to those who interfere with or inhibit an emergency call. If convicted, the penalty is a Class A misdemeanor.
The range of punishment for a Class A misdemeanors can be:
  • Incarceration for up to one year in county jail; and/or
  • A fine of up to $4,000.
If the accused has been previously convicted of interference with an emergency call, the accused can be charged with a state jail felony.
Punishment for a state jail felony can possibly result in:
  • Incarceration for up to two years in a state jail; and/or
  • A fine of up to $10,000.

Additional Resource

Texas 911 & Kari’s Law – The local 911 website explains the circumstances that led to the adoption of the law which went into effect on September 1, 2016. “The law represents the culmination of efforts in the aftermath of the murder of Kari Hunt in a motel room in Marshall, Texas. Ms. Hunt’s 9-year-old daughter tried to call 9-1-1 for help four times from the motel room phone. The call never went through because she did not know to first dial “9” for an outbound line before dialing “9-1-1.” Now, when using multi-line telephone systems (such as at a motel), callers to 911 no longer have to first dial an initial number, digit, prefix or other access number or code.

Hiring an Attorney for Interfering with an Emergency Call in Harris County, TX

If you or a loved one have been charged with interfering with an emergency call, it is important that you contact a seasoned defense lawyer. Do not despair. Be proactive. Call James G. Sullivan and Associates today to talk to an attorney.
The attorneys at James G. Sullivan and Associates are experienced in defending family violence and related assault charges. We accept clients in Houston in Harris County, Conroe in Montgomery County, and Richmond in Fort Bend County, Texas. Do not put your freedom or clean record in jeopardy by going it alone. These legal issues are complex. Call us today at (281) 546-6428 and let us tell you how we will defend you.