Answering Avvo: How likely is it for the state to pick up charges for assault?

Avvo.com is a website that people use to find lawyers. Lawyers usually find themselves on the site without even creating a profile, but are allowed to claim the profile at any time. Users submit questions anonymously and any lawyers can provide an answer.

Anonymous scenario: sisters got into a fight left nothing but scratches, police report arrested one of the sisters (college student no previous records or arrests) and charging her with assault even though no charges were pressed and she doesn’t want to press charges. will the state still pick up these charges? how likely is that to happen?

This is an Assault (Tex. Pen. Code § 22.01) case with a Family Violence (Tex. Fam. Code § 71.004) tag attached to it. The reason the sister was arrested is because the Texas legislature decided to pass a law that would hold police accountable for “acting as a referee” in domestic violence cases. We typically think of domestic violence cases as limited to spouses, or parent child relationships. The truth is that it can occur beyond those limited circumstances. (TX Family § 71.003) The law says if an officer believes an assault took place in a family situation, and doesn’t make an arrest, then the officer can be charged. (TX Crim Pro Art. 5)

The assault charge is a Misdemeanor A (Tex. Pen. Code § 12.21) with a max fine of $4,000, max jail time 1 year, or both. The family violence tag is an enhancement with different consequences:
No firearms
No license to hunt or fish
Looks bad in family court
Future/current employment

The defendant needs to get an appointed lawyer or hire a lawyer. Then get a private investigator to speak to the sister that doesn’t want any charges to move forward. There are documents that will allow the sister to state she doesn’t want to testify. The sister needs to express that to the prosecutor. The no previous record or arrest will be helpful.

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