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Reporting Family Violence in Tx – Houston Domestic Violence Resource

Family violence is a real and present danger to many Texas Citizens. Thus, it is important to know what exactly constitutes family violence under Texas law, what individuals must report family violence, and to what authorities must the violence be reported to. To tackle all of this, let’s dive into the statute.

What Is Family Violence

According to the Texas Family Code, FAM §71.004, family violence is defined as follows:

  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 Sections 261.001(1)(C), (E), and (G), (H), (I), (J), and (K), by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household; or
  3. dating violence, as that term is defined by Section 71.0021.

It is important to note that this statute does not include the reasonable discipline of a child.

Reporting The Family Violence

In later sections, the Texas Family Code details which individuals are encouraged to report the alleged violence. FAM §91.002 states, “A person who witnesses family violence is encouraged to report the family violence to a local law enforcement agency.”

In §91.003, the Code even goes on to outline instructions to medical professionals who treat an individual for injuries that the medical professional has reason to believe were caused by family violence. The Code states the medical professional shall:

  1. Immediately provide the person with information regarding the nearest family violence shelter center;
  2. Document in the person’s medical file:

(A) the fact that the person has received the information provided under Subdivision (1); and

(B) the reasons for the medical professional’s belief that the person’s injuries were caused by family violence; and

3. Give the person a written notice […] completed with the required information, in both English and Spanish.”

The Formal Notice To Adult Victims Of Family Violence

As stated in subsection (3) of §91.003, a written notice is given to a potential victim. This notice states in part that, “It is a crime for any person to cause you any physical injury or harm even if that person is a member or former member of your family or household.”

The form lists the telephone number of a law enforcement facility in which the violence should be reported and the legal rights the victim in order to deter further violence. These rights include asking a local prosecutor to file a criminal complaint against the abuse; applying to a court for an order to protect the victim; consulting with a legal aid office, a prosecuting attorney, or a private attorney.

A court can enter an order that:

  1. prohibits the abuser from committing further acts of violence;
  2. prohibits the abuser from threatening, harassing, or contacting you at home;
  3. directs the abuser to leave your household;  and
  4. establishes temporary custody of the children or any property.”

Family & Domestic Violence Abuse Resources in Houston, Harris County

Scroll through the Houston Bar Association web page (embedded below) to find resources for victims of domestic violence.