Pandemic Brings an Increase in Domestic Violence Charges: What This Means for You
The COVID-19 pandemic and its shelter-in-place orders are the reason behind a 10.2% increase in reports of domestic violence. This increase is driven by calls from households that have no prior domestic violence history.
We are not accustomed to having our freedoms restricted or being forced into spending all day, every day, with other members of our household. This increase in intimacy is leading to more domestic violence charges.
We are going to share why there is a surge in domestic violence with COVID-19, the penalties for domestic violence charges, and why you should contact a criminal defense attorney if you receive charges for domestic violence.
COVID-19 Impact on Domestic Violence
The impact of COVID-19 on our entire way of living has had a tremendous impact on the way we live, exercise, work, and socialize. Psychology Today’s review of the pandemic shows the following factors that impact the increase in domestic violence:
A man’s perceived threat to his masculinity and inability to “provide” following job loss creates a lost sense of power. This sometimes leads men to domestic violence as the man seeks to regain control of his personal life and relationships.
Psychology Today went on to report that studies surrounding the 2008 recession found higher numbers of unemployment correlated with increased domestic violence incidents. The lack of jobs resulting from the pandemic is comparable to job loss during the Great Depression.
With restrictions on socializing outside our immediate homes, we find ourselves living in government-sanctioned isolation. A common habit of domestic violence abusers is to isolate their victims from family, friends, and their environment. By separating their victim, the abuser has greater control over the environment, which is more conducive to their power and abuse.
There are multiple stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including fear of contracting coronavirus, all-day news coverage of cases and death tolls, and the uncertainty of how long stay-at-home and business closure orders will be in place. When living with elevated levels of stress, it is easier to fall into a pattern of violence towards others.
Alcohol often impacts a person’s likelihood of committing domestic violence. Psychology Today found that the result of stay-at-home orders is a 243% increase in the sale of alcoholic beverages. When there is a lack of income, an increase in stress levels, and an inability to socialize combined with forced intimacy, consuming alcohol contributes to the probability of a domestic violence incident.
Lack of Resources
This pandemic has had an impact on all resources. First responders are stretched thin with active protests and crowd control, shelters pose a risk for contracting the virus or are operating on reduced capacity, and court closures result in slower processing of protective orders. Legal aid and victims’ rights advocates are not available or only available remotely, and judges are canceling hearings or holding them remotely. Incarceration is also given more scrutiny due to concern about COVID-19 infections in jails.
All of the above are contributing factors that may lead an otherwise non-violent person to find themselves facing domestic violence charges.
What is Domestic Violence?
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, every minute, 24 people in the United States are the victim of physical abuse, rape, or stalking by their intimate partner. In addition to this mind-boggling statistic:
- Almost 50% of men and women in the United States have been the subject of psychological aggression by an intimate partner
- 30-60% of those who commit domestic violence against a partner also abuse children in the same household
- 4% of the students in high school say they have been slapped, hit, or physically injured on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend
Domestic violence is an act of violence against a person with whom you reside or have an intimate relationship with. This includes:
- The person you reside with
- A person you are dating
- Any member of your immediate household
- The other parent of your children
- Your current or previous spouse or significant other
- Your child, step-child, foster-child, parent, or foster parent
Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
Domestic violence is one of Texas’ most severe crimes. The charges against you will depend on:
1) The relationship of the alleged victim to you
2) The form of abuse, with higher penalties for suffocation or strangulation
3) If the abuser has any past domestic violence convictions or general criminal behavior
Depending on the charges for which there is a conviction, penalties are:
- Up to 12 months in jail and a maximum $4,000 penalty for a Class A Misdemeanor
- 2-10 years in prison and up to $10,000 penalty for a Third-Degree Felony
- 2-20 years in prison and up to $10,000 penalty for a Second-Degree Felony
- 5-99 years in prison and up to $10,000 penalty for a First-Degree Felony
A domestic violence conviction will be part of your permanent criminal record. This may impact your ability to vote, obtain or maintain employment, and may affect your ability to obtain housing. You will also have the following restrictions:
- Impact on divorce and child custody proceedings
- Impact on employment, especially if you are military personnel, a pilot, teacher, health care worker, or employee of the city, county or state
- You will be unable to get a Texas fishing license or Texas hunting license
- You will be unable to own or have a firearm in your possession
If You Are Facing Domestic Violence Charges
If you find yourself facing domestic violence charges, you need an experienced Fort Bend County lawyer who will fight for your freedom. As a former judge, attorney David Hunter knows the ways prosecuting attorneys build their case against you and has the knowledge and skills to provide you with a strong defense.
Before you talk to the police, call the law office of David Hunter at (281) 417-3117 to schedule a free consultation. We will assist you in providing statements to the police, look at the evidence against you, and build your defense.