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Reporting Family Violence - Texas Family Law

Texas Family Law
Family Violence Reports

REPORTING FAMILY VIOLENCE

§ 91.001. DEFINITIONS.

In this subtitle:

(1) "Family violence" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.004.

(2) "Medical professional" means a licensed doctor, nurse, physician assistant, or emergency medical technician.

§ 91.002. REPORTING BY WITNESSES ENCOURAGED.

A person who witnesses family violence is encouraged to report the family violence to a local law enforcement agency.

§ 91.003. INFORMATION PROVIDED BY MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS.

A medical professional who treats a person for injuries that the medical professional has reason to believe were caused by family violence 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 in substantially the following form, completed with the required information, in both English and Spanish:

"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.

"NOTICE TO ADULT VICTIMS OF FAMILY VIOLENCE

"You may report family violence to a law enforcement officer by calling the following telephone numbers: _____________________________.

"If you, your child, or any other household resident has been injured or if you feel you are going to be in danger after a law enforcement officer investigating family violence leaves your residence or at a later time, you have the right to:

"Ask the local prosecutor to file a criminal complaint against the person committing family violence; and

"Apply to a court for an order to protect you. You may want to consult 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.

"A VIOLATION OF CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF COURT-ORDERED PROTECTION MAY BE A FELONY.

"CALL THE FOLLOWING VIOLENCE SHELTERS OR SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS IF YOU NEED PROTECTION: _____________________________."

§ 91.004. APPLICATION OF SUBTITLE.

This subtitle does not affect a duty to report child abuse under Chapter 261.

IMMUNITY

§ 92.001. IMMUNITY. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a person who reports family violence under Section 91.002 or provides information under Section 91.003 is immune from civil liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.

(b) A person who reports the person's own conduct or who otherwise reports family violence in bad faith is not protected from liability under this section.

CONFIDENTIAL AND PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATIONS

§ 93.001. DEFINITIONS.

In this chapter:

(1) "Advocate" means a person who has at least 20 hours of training in assisting victims of family violence and is an employee or volunteer of a family violence center.

(2) "Family violence center" means a public or private nonprofit organization that provides, as its primary purpose, services to victims of family violence, including the services described by Section 51.005(b)(3), Human Resources Code.

(3) "Victim" has the meaning assigned to "victim of family violence" by Section 51.002, Human Resources Code.

§ 93.002. CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS.

A written or oral communication between an advocate and a victim made in the course of advising, advocating for, counseling, or assisting the victim is confidential and may not be disclosed.

§ 93.003. PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATIONS.

(a) A victim has a privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent another from disclosing a confidential communication described by Section 93.002.

(b) The privilege may be claimed by:

(1) a victim or a victim's attorney on a victim's behalf;

(2) a parent, guardian, or conservator of a victim under 18 years of age; or

(3) an advocate or a family violence center on a victim's behalf.

§ 93.004. EXCEPTIONS.

(a) A communication that is confidential under this chapter may be disclosed only:

(1) to another individual employed by or volunteering for a family violence center for the purpose of furthering the advocacy process;

(2) for the purpose of seeking evidence that is admissible under Article 38.49, Code of Criminal Procedure, following an in camera review and a determination that the communication is admissible under that article;

(3) to other persons in the context of a support group or group counseling in which a victim is a participant; or

(4) for the purposes of making a report under Chapter 261 of this code or Section 48.051, Human Resources Code.

(b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), the Texas Rules of Evidence govern the disclosure of a communication that is confidential under this chapter in a criminal or civil proceeding by an expert witness who relies on facts or data from the communication to form the basis of the expert's opinion.

(c) If the family violence center, at the request of the victim, discloses a communication privileged under this chapter for the purpose of a criminal or civil proceeding, the family violence center shall disclose the communication to all parties to that criminal or civil proceeding.

Questions?  Call us now to speak with an experienced Family Law attorney. 

 (469) 630-2550