Why we fight against domestic violence

The family is the core of a community and the thread that ties individuals to something larger. When something so elemental is twisted by violence, it undermines everything about our way of life. Yet the criminal justice system has traditionally been ineffective in combating family violence, so the sickness only festers.
    In El Paso, we decided we weren’t going to accept that any longer. With a lot of hard work, community collaboration, and some luck, we developed an innovative, aggressive program that’s been overwhelmingly successful. This chapter is about sharing that program so others can benefit from the lessons we had to learn the hard way.

Family violence by the numbers
One of the most disturbing things about family violence is the sheer scale of the problem. Consider calls to the National Family Violence Hotline. In 2010, there were 198,760 calls; in 2011, that number jumped to 208,662, a 5-percent increase.1 Texas alone accounted for 17,331 calls in 2011.2 While our largest cities—Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio—accounted for 46 percent of those calls,3 that means small towns and rural areas generated even more. Family violence is a problem in communities everywhere.4
    Escalation is also a disturbing trend. Consider the following data:5

Family Violence in Texas
Year    # of Incidents    # of Murders
2001    180,385            113
2002    183,440            117
2003    185,299            154
2004    182,087             116
2005    187,811             143
2006    186,868             120
2007    189,401             104
2008    193,505             136
2009    196,713             111
2010    193,505             142

As these numbers reveal, while there are small fluctuations from year to year, there’s been a relatively steady increase in family violence incidents over the last 10 years. Worse, traditional law enforcement techniques haven’t made a dent in the number of even the most serious cases: those in which a victim is killed by her abuser.
    These aren’t crimes that happen in isolation, either. They touch lives and families everywhere and profoundly affect people who aren’t victims themselves. The Texas Council of Family Violence reached out to Texans in a 2002 survey to see what people had to say about the issue. Their findings are summarized below:6
•    74 percent of Texans said that they or someone they’re close to have been a victim of family violence;
•    47 percent reported having personally experienced family violence;
•    31 percent had been severely abused at some point in their lives;
•    75 percent of Texans claimed that they would call the police if they experienced family violence, but only 20 percent of those who reported having experienced family violence actually called the police;
•    73 percent believed that family violence is a serious problem in Texas
•    84 percent felt that they could personally do something about family violence;
•    74 percent recalled recent communications concerning family violence; and
•    78 percent would be more likely to vote for a political candidate who helped family violence victims.
These numbers were higher among Hispanic Texans, which the survey over-sampled to trace the unique experience of family violence in the Hispanic community:
•    77 percent of all Hispanic Texans said that they or someone they’re close to had been a victim of family violence;
•    64 percent reported having personally experienced family violence;
•    39 percent had been severely abused at some point in their lives;
•    18 percent reported being forced to have sex against their will;
•    40 percent of Hispanic victims took no action whatsoever in response to family violence;
•    63 percent recalled recent communications concerning family violence; and
•    86 percent would be more likely to vote for a political candidate who helped family violence victims.
    While this survey is now a decade old, the number of annual family violence incidents has only increased since it was administered. There’s nothing to indicate that a new survey would reveal any improvement in public perception about family violence. In fact, as of 2011, only 38.5 percent of Texas women had a positive view of law enforcement’s efforts regarding family violence,7 and a full 50.9 percent felt that the State of Texas simply wasn’t doing enough to help victims.8 If anything, the problem has only gotten worse.

Why do we fight?
Numbers are one thing; experience is another. As prosecutors, we’ve seen innumerable victims caught up in a cycle they can’t get out of. Whether it’s financial, emotional, or community pressure, or simply a sad reality in which family violence has become a normal part of everyday life, many victims end up trapped. Two different victims I’ve dealt with exemplify the issues seen in family violence cases.
    In one case, I prosecuted a defendant for misdemeanor assault family violence where the victim had simply been pushed into some furniture a couple of times. The injuries were minimal: some light bruises on her legs. The victim was a tiny, sweet, timid lady who wasn’t in the country legally and relied on the defendant for a place to live and financial support. The defense’s theory of the case was that she’d made the outcry of family violence to get a U-Visa. When I came down from court and let the victim know the jury had found the defendant guilty, she started to cry. I’d been prosecuting family violence long enough to be jaded, and I immediately assumed that she was upset because he’d been convicted. That’s when she grabbed my hand tightly and whispered something through her tears that I’ll always remember: “If I’d just wanted a visa I could’ve reported him the first week we were together. He got away with it so many times. So many times. Until now I thought he always would.” She’d been a virtual slave to a horrible existence and the system had repeatedly failed to help her.  Victims stuck under an abuser’s thumb are why we fight.
    Another victim who comes to mind had been beaten severely over and over again. The defendant was a gang member who’d already had a pen trip, and pretty much any time he wasn’t in jail he was putting his hands on the victim. When officers responded to the most recent attack, they literally had to pull the defendant off of her as he choked her. The strangulation was so bad that the next day, her face was covered in petechiae (spots that resemble a rash that are caused by burst blood vessels). She didn’t want to prosecute and wasn’t particularly sympathetic. She had a substantial criminal history herself and spent every hearing mad-dogging me from the gallery of the courtroom. When the defendant was convicted and sentenced to another stretch in the penitentiary, she had just one question for me: “How does ‘good time’ work? How long did you take him away from me for?” Victims who’ve been in the cycle of violence for so long that it becomes a normal, acceptable way of life are why we fight.
    And in case after case, we see the effects of family violence on those close to victims, especially their children. Kids exposed to family violence are tragically commonplace. In 2010, shelters and resource centers served 80,869 people in Texas, and 31,378 of them were children.9 The mere fact that kids see or hear abuse in the home makes them victims as well. Most experts agree that violence is a “‘learned behavior’ and ‘much of that learning takes place in the house.’”10 According to the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence, children who see family violence, especially repeatedly, are at a much greater risk for numerous problems later in life, including perpetrating violence themselves.11 I’ve personally had the heartbreaking experience of seeing young people as witnesses to a family violence case one day and family violence defendants a few years later. Children, the next generation, our future, are why we fight.

Fighting smarter
The drive to make a difference is a good thing, but fighting smarter is essential. As the numbers above demonstrate, law enforcement efforts simply haven’t been effective in curbing family violence. I’ve spoken to attorneys on both sides of the bar in jurisdictions across Texas and come to one conclusion: A big part of the problem is that we’ve tended to approach family violence like any other crime, failing to appreciate what a unique phenomenon it really is.
    Family violence can’t be fought like just any other crime. An offense that happens within a family or intimate relationship is an entirely different animal from, say, an assault by a stranger or acquaintance. The complex dynamics at work behind these cases put family violence, especially misdemeanor assaults with relatively minor injuries, among the most difficult crimes of all to prosecute. Without a strong working knowledge of the legal standards and practical techniques unique to family violence, even an otherwise solid attorney can’t be effective.
    Family violence prosecutors inevitably deal with countless cases in which the victim doesn’t want to prosecute or actively works against you. It’s easy to decline or dismiss a charge when you see that pursuing it will be an uphill battle. That might be the right call with other types of cases, but we’re never going to make a meaningful difference in reducing family violence if we don’t protect the most defenseless victims: those who must be saved from themselves. Simply put, what’s been business as usual just isn’t good enough anymore.

A new approach
In El Paso, we looked at the suffering in our community and got fed up with the status quo. Our District Attorney, Jaime Esparza, decided to make fighting family violence one of his very highest priorities, and our team set about developing a radical program for addressing it. This section covers the goals that we had, the steps we took to build partnerships and consciousness about the issue in the community, and the position our office adopted towards these kinds of cases; the next section will go over the specifics of our program.
    After pooling our collective experiences and discussing the issues with some of the experts in the field, we settled on three things:
•    creating an early intervention program,
•    engaging both the community and outside agencies in the fight against family violence, and
•    changing the attitude and approach that our office took towards these cases.
    We implemented the early intervention program—our 24-hour contact initiative—on August 11, 2008. Our plan for the program was to establish contact with family violence victims within 24 hours of the defendant’s arrest to ensure their safety, let them know what services were available to them as victims, gather additional evidence to aid in the prosecution of the cases, and shorten the time it took to bring family violence cases all the way to plea or trial. The program involves review of every family violence case handled this way by a team including the district attorney himself and works because of the ongoing efforts of our investigators, victim advocates, and attorneys. The specific steps we now take in prosecuting these cases are described in detail under “From Emergency Call to Jail Call in El Paso,” below.
    What we hoped to accomplish wasn’t just greater success in prosecuting family violence cases. We wanted to make sure we were working to change the perceptions of the community itself, starting with our own office. We also focused on developing true expertise in our office as a whole (not just within our family violence unit) in prosecuting these cases. And above all, we wanted to make sure that victims were safe, families were whole, and violence didn’t stay hidden behind closed doors.
    We knew we couldn’t do all of that alone, so one of our first steps was to develop strong partnerships with other stakeholders in our community. Law enforcement was an obvious starting point. Instead of officers seeing prosecutors only in the courtroom, we decided we needed to open a dialogue with them and see what they actually dealt with in the field. We now regularly have family violence prosecutors ride along with officers on special duty, responding principally to family violence calls.12 Doing so has given each side a greater respect for the other and a better understanding of what needs to be done to successfully investigate and later try a family violence case. The investigative techniques described in Chapter 3 of our book are the best practices developed through this collaboration. Seeing what officers deal with has also made our attorneys much better at conveying the tense drama of a family violence scene to a jury.
    Other relationships were also cultivated and developed, such as our work with representatives from Fort Bliss, El Paso’s military base. Teaming with military personnel has helped us understand the challenges that family violence presents within armed forces life. For example, the interplay of military culture and the realities of military life require special sensitivity. A defendant who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder requires a different approach than one who’s simply a violent person. Our partnership with the military has also provided unique opportunities to address family violence on-base in ways we simply can’t on our own, such as having the defendant closely monitored by a superior officer while his charges are pending, which helps make sure the victim stays safe.
    More broadly, we’ve worked to make family violence a highly visible issue in our community and enlisted the help of outreach programs, schools, and entities such as the Center Against Family Violence to change public perceptions about reporting and prosecuting these crimes. One of our biggest efforts has been an annual “Help-Hope-Healing” conference. The conference isn’t for the professionals who deal with family violence, but instead for its victims and their families. We bring in celebrity speakers who have endured family violence to talk about their experiences and our attorneys and staff members join victims in a “walk across El Paso” to show them they aren’t alone. Attendees are provided with as many services as possible, but perhaps the most important resource they’re able to tap into is each other. By making every effort to publicize the event and its results, we help raise awareness and encourage victims to report attacks and hold attackers accountable.
    We’ve also begun to address the cycle of violence before it begins through education. We partnered with the El Paso County Attorney’s Office, which prosecutes juvenile offenders, and created a campaign called “¡No te dejes!” or “Don’t let yourself!” Its centerpiece is a presentation by attorneys from our two offices aimed at teenagers who may be exposed to dating violence. It includes a high-production-value video that follows the life of a high school student who gets into an increasingly abusive relationship with a boy she goes to school with. After showing the video, the presenter discusses teen dating violence with the young audience members, providing them with information, answering their questions, and leaving them with a packet of materials that discusses the issues and provides resources they can turn to. Dozens of these presentations have been delivered at schools and other venues all across El Paso, and the reception has been strongly positive. While it may seem that getting through to teenagers is a lost cause, our experience is that they’ve been receptive, and we believe that talking to young people about family violence reduces their vulnerability to it as adults and helps change the next generation’s sense of what type of behavior is acceptable.
    There are similar programs for adults that we’ve created and promoted, including three different video presentations. The videos were made available in both English and Spanish. They explore the signs and cycle of family violence, the creation of safety plans (escape preparations by victims who know they’re in an abusive relationship), and finally, the issues faced by and services available to undocumented victims, who are particularly vulnerable to family violence because they have no legal residency status in the United States. These presentations have been delivered to groups of women all over El Paso and met with a strongly positive response. Like the teen dating violence initiative, what we’ve found is that, quite apart from the specific information these efforts convey, it’s the message they send about family violence itself that’s had a real impact, and we’ve seen firsthand how attitudes have started to change in our jurisdiction. Sometimes it’s not about what you say; it’s about starting the conversation.

Attitudes in the ­courthouse
It’s one thing to foster change in the community and another to reflect back on ourselves. Part of changing our approach to family violence cases has been developing a new culture in our own office. We had to change the sentiments that went along with the traditional approach to family violence, which started with our district attorney himself. Mr. Esparza repeatedly hammered home how personally important these cases were to him, and that helped urge an evolution in how seriously our attorneys and staff members handled family violence. He’d also always had a commitment to keeping victims involved in the court process, and that was reemphasized in this context. Over time, it became unthinkable not to vigorously pursue the same cases that would’ve once been dismissed or declined outright, and we worked with victims more closely than ever before.
    Beyond that, pursuing these cases aggressively meant buckling down and staying the course. The reaction from the defense bar in particular was stunningly negative. Many defense attorneys became angry and confrontational when cases they were once getting dismissed for a non-prosecution affidavit now had notes in them from the DA himself. Some judges became concerned about backed-up dockets. And our own attorneys faced a learning curve as they developed the skills necessary to confidently try family violence cases. Changing the way we handled them meant having some grit and sticking to our guns in the face of adversity. It was also an opportunity, though, to let those tough circumstances further unite us as an office. Eventually we got through the difficult early days, and it was worth it.

From emergency call to jail call in El Paso
From the time an emergency call is placed in El Paso County, three overall steps take place in the prosecution process. The first is, naturally, the investigation of the crime. From there, we follow up on cases and evaluate them at our daily family violence meetings. Finally, the cases we accept wind up in court, to be prosecuted either by the attorney assigned to that court or by one of our dedicated family violence attorneys. This section describes that process from beginning to end.
    Investigation. The initial investigation of a family violence case is the foundation of its eventual strength at trial. We’re lucky enough in El Paso to have a 24-hour intake system known as the District Attorney Information Management System (or DIMS). During any warrantless arrest situation, which includes family violence,13 the responding officer can call DIMS at any time of the day or night and speak with an assistant district attorney to present the case. The prosecutor reviews the case and decides whether our office will accept it for prosecution, so a charging decision is made on the spot. One of the best aspects of this system is that an attorney is involved from the beginning and can make sure that officers ask the sorts of questions and collect the sorts of evidence that will allow us to successfully pursue the case in court.
    The prosecutor isn’t actually there on the scene, though, and the jury that hears about the case later on certainly won’t be, so we decided to do something about that. Thanks to the Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division, we were given grant funding to provide the El Paso Police Department with video cameras to record family violence investigations. Officers can now record statements from the victim, the defendant, and anyone else involved,14 memorialize the scene itself, and document any injuries to either party. This has provided an unprecedented kind of evidence that dramatically captures the details of a chaotic situation and prevents later recantations.
    Once all of the evidence is collected and a charging decision has been made, the case moves from being a police matter to a prosecution matter. Local law enforcement officers have been trained to be sensitive to a victim’s needs, and victims are provided with services and resources ranging from standby assistance and transportation to emergency protective orders for when the defendant bonds out of jail. But as far as the criminal case is concerned, the next step for us is the family violence meeting the following business day.
    Meetings. Every day we have a team that meets to review family violence cases and act on them as necessary. The work begins well before the meeting though. Two clerks assigned to the unit come in at 7:00 every morning to gather the information we’ll need for the meeting. One clerk runs the jail roster of all defendants who were arrested on outstanding warrants, pulling any family violence cases in which an arrest was made within 10 days of the crime,15 while the other clerk collects all family violence cases processed as warrantless arrests through DIMS on the previous day. The two clerks then work together to make sure each file contains all the evidence that was collected as well as an up-to-date criminal history on each defendant. We’ve streamlined this system to the point where all of that’s usually done by 8:00 a.m.
    From there, we have two teams that each consist of a victim advocate and an investigator. They divide the cases up based on the area of town where the victim lives and then they head out to speak with them face-to-face. Safety is paramount. Our teams note whether the defendant is still in custody and they’re very careful when they go knocking on doors. The investigators who have been chosen to work with our unit are highly experienced former police officers who know how to handle volatile situations.
    Once the team makes contact with the victim, they find out if she and her family members are safe; if not, we offer to take her to a shelter. Our victim advocate goes on to provide the victim with information about the services available to her, including the brochure found on the CD included with our book. The advocate also explains how the criminal justice system works and gives the victim some ideas for developing a safety plan. Our investigator gathers additional contact information, such as the numbers of family members and close friends, so we have alternative ways of reaching the victim (who may eventually become uncooperative) later on. He also obtains a records release form if she received medical treatment, takes photographs of any visible injuries (bruises in particular are usually much more prominent the day after an assault), and collects any other evidence that might have been overlooked or unavailable during the initial investigation. All this is documented in detail in our computer system so that prosecutors can get an accurate sense of exactly what was said and done during the home visit.
This information is put together into complete files by the two secretaries assigned to our unit, and they play an important role at the meetings.
    During those daily meetings, each case is evaluated by a team of prosecutors, investigators, and victim advocates. With each case, the police report is read amongst the group and the photos, videos, emergency calls, and criminal histories are reviewed. Whatever the victim said during the home visit is also discussed. Further, we’re able to immediately identify defendants who are on parole or probation and those who have other pending cases already. That allows us to address each defendant appropriately by filing a motion to revoke or upgrading the present case if possible.
    As the meeting proceeds, our secretaries are responsible for entering a wide variety of information into a database we maintain. We keep track of each case and note whether there were visible injuries, an emergency call, any weapons used, if alcohol was involved, whether the victim was pregnant, and so forth. These data points help us keep track of trends in family violence so we can remain proactive instead of reactive.
    After a thorough review of the evidence, a minimum recommendation for any plea agreement is made for each case by the DA himself, or when he can’t be present, by the chief of the family violence unit. That recommendation is physically written into the case file in bold red ink that no one could overlook, which is why these recommendations have come to be known as “red writing” here in El Paso. The red ink began accidentally, but it quickly became instrumental in changing the culture of family violence prosecution in our courthouse. Once a prosecutor or defense attorney picks up a file and sees the red writing from the district attorney himself, they know it’s a case to be taken seriously.

Prosecution
Besides the meeting participants, our family violence unit consists of a chief, a supervisory attorney who screens, presents, and prosecutes felony cases, and specialized family violence prosecutors who handle misdemeanors (which constitute the majority of family violence cases) in a dedicated family violence court. Having a team and a court dedicated to family violence is a huge asset. These are cases that require specialized knowledge to pursue successfully and a judge who’s sensitive to the issues and conversant in the complex body of law implicated in family violence. The unit is also a resource to the other 80 or so attorneys in our office who end up with the many family violence cases that we chose not to keep “in house.” These cases are tough and often complicated, but they make a fantastic training opportunity for new and experienced prosecutors alike; the lessons learned in taking even a misdemeanor family violence case through trial can be applied to dealing with crimes of any type or level of seriousness.
    Having a group dedicated to tackling family violence is also important because it increases efficiency. Our unit has great standing relationships with a variety of agencies. The ability to contact our liaisons and almost instantly obtain evidence or other assistance makes prosecuting these cases a much smoother process. A specialized unit also gives us the opportunity to review cases office-wide and make sure we’re achieving the outcomes we want. Our chief and supervisory attorney look over every family violence case that’s closed in El Paso County, and that helps us ensure each case is taken seriously and every victim is contacted throughout the prosecution process.
    Developing a unit (or in small offices, at least a person) who deals exclusively with family violence cases is ideal. If it sounds expensive, you’re right—it takes resources that can be scarce, but they’re out there. Much of what we do is paid for through grants, and I’d encourage any office thinking of creating or expanding a family violence program to explore alternative funding that takes the burden off local taxpayers. It’s tough to admit that justice sometimes has a price tag, but it’s definitely worth finding a way to pay it.
    Evaluation. Our program has been a resounding success, but you don’t have to take our word for it. The Criminal Justice Division of the Office of the Governor recently sponsored a thorough evaluation of our work. The study was conducted by the Institute on Family Violence and Sexual Assault, which is part of the Center for Social Work Research at the University of Texas at Austin, and it was led by veteran researcher Dr. Noël Busch-Armendariz. The evaluation focused on the impact, effectiveness, and efficacy of our program in terms of our response to victims of family violence and whether our program could be successfully replicated elsewhere.16
    The study included interviews of members of our unit, judges, defense attorneys, law enforcement officials, personnel from the Center Against Family Violence, community supervision representatives, and perhaps most importantly, real-life victims of family violence. The researchers coupled this qualitative approach with quantitative data and delivered a nearly 60-page long summary of their findings. Its key conclusions were as follows:
    1)    Implementation of the 24-hour contact program has instituted a noteworthy paradigm shift in El Paso, where family violence is viewed as a serious and prosecutable crime that will not be easily dismissed and for which offenders will be held accountable for their crimes of violence. The program has altered legal practices by criminal justice professionals—including ADAs, law enforcement, and defense attorneys—and increased skill-building, peer support, and mentorship with the district attorney’s office. Unfortunately, myths about family violence persist, so effort to address these myths should continue.
    2)    The 24-hour contact program provides significant emotional support to family violence victims and increases their access to important community and financial resources.
    3)    Collaborations among key players in the criminal justice system and community victim service providers (e.g., law enforcement, local family violence shelter, probation, and the Battering Intervention and Prevention Program) have been considerably strengthened as a result of the program.
    4)    The prosecution of family violence has been significantly enhanced through the collection of better evidence, and increase in evidence gathering, improved preparation of case files, and an increase in preparedness and effectiveness of ADAs for trial.
    5)    Victims and professionals in the criminal justice system reported a range of mixed reactions to the district attorney’s stance on victimless prosecution. Some favored having the burden of responsibility placed on ADAs, while a minority of victims expressed frustration with diminished control over decision-making regarding the prosecution of offenders.17
    While the researchers noted that our program was “the only one of its kind in the country,” they found the potential for replication elsewhere “feasible and credible.”18 And what did the study determine were the most important elements for instituting similar programs elsewhere? Leadership from prosecutor’s offices and buy-in from the rest of the folks involved.19 In other words, if your office is dedicated to making a change in how these cases are prosecuted and what the community’s perception of family violence is, it can. All it takes is the courage to act and the commitment to see it through despite the challenges you’ll face.
    Knowing that we really can make a difference is why we fight.

Editor’s note: The book, Family Violence Investigation & Prosecution by Ellic Sahualla and Patricia Baca, is available at www.TDCAA.com for $40.

Endnotes
1 Email from Emily Toothman, Hotline Program Specialist, The National Domestic Violence Hotline, to Patricia Baca, Family Violence Unit Chief, El Paso County District Attorney’s Office (Feb. 20, 2012, 12:24 MST) (on file with author).
2 Id.
3 Id.
4 See Texas Department of Public Safety, The Crime Report of 2010: Chapter 5—Family Violence 40–46 (2010), www.txdps.state.tx.us/crimereports/10/citCh5.pdf (breaking down family violence incidents across all jurisdictions in Texas).
5 Id. at 37; Texas Council on Family Violence, Family Violence Statistics in Texas 1 (2009), www.tcfv.org/pdf/dvam2009/Year%202009%20Family%20Violence%20Statistics.pdf.
6 Texas Council on Family Violence, Facts and Statistics, www.tcfv.org/resources/facts-and-statistics (last visited March 2, 2012).
7 Noël Busch-Armendariz, Laurie Heffron, & Tom Bohman, Statewide Prevalent of Intimate Partner Violence in Texas 44 (2011), available at www .utexas.edu/ssw/dl/files/cswr/institutes/idvsa/publications/DV-Prevalence.pdf.
8 Id. at 43.
9 Texas Council on Family Violence, 2010 Family Violence in Texas,  The River, Oct. 2011, at 3.
10 Rosie Gonzalez & Janice Corbin, The Cycle of Violence: Domestic Violence and its Effects on Children, 13 Scholar 405, 419 (2010).
11 National Center for Children Exposed to Violence, Statistics, www.nccev.org/resources/statistics.html#domestic (last retrieved March 2, 2012).
12 If you choose to do the same, you’re going to face ridiculous claims that your office is disqualified because an assistant district attorney might be a witness. That’s simply not true. See Gonzalez v. State, 117 S.W.3d 831, 387–38 (Tex. Crim. App. 2003) (defendant must show actual prejudice based on violation of advocate-witness rule for relief to be possible); House v. State, 947 S.W.2d 251, 253 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997) (same); see also Tex. Disciplinary R. Prof’l Conduct 3.08, cmt. 9 (rule “is not well suited … for procedural disqualification. [I]t serves two principal purposes. [T]o insure that a [client isn’t] represented by a lawyer who could be a more effective witness [and] is not burdened by counsel who may have to offer testimony that is substantially adverse to the client’s cause”).
13 Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 14.03(a).
14 Texas is a “one-party consent” state when it comes to recording a conversation; as long as the recording officer consents, the recording is legal and admissible. Tex. Pen. Code §16.02; Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §123.001(2); see generally Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 18.20 (providing relevant definitions).
15 There’s nothing magical about the 10-day cutoff. We just felt intuitively that after about 10 days the victim would’ve reconciled with the defendant or not and she was less likely to be in need of the immediate services our office might provide.
16 Noël Busch-Armendariz & Sapana Donde, The 34th Judicial District Attorney Takes on Family Violence Crime: An Evaluation of the 24 Hour Contact Initiative 7 (2011), available at www.utexas .edu/ssw/dl/files/cswr/institutes/idvsa/publications/El-Paso.pdf.
17 Id. at 8–9.
18 Id. at 9.
19 Id. at 41.