If you are under a protective order, it is illegal for you to possess a gun, but the reality of this law is convoluted at best. In practice, there is nothing in place to help ensure that those under protective orders get rid of any guns they already possess or to help ensure that they are not able to obtain guns in the first place. Of the many counties that make up the great State of Texas, most simply lack the resources to deal with the matter – so they do not. For example, if the guns in question were rounded up – there is no system in place for safe storage or for returning them to their rightful owners once the protective order lifts. Now that this topic is gaining more public attention, however, we may begin to see a shift.
Protective Orders in Texas
There are three primary types of protective orders in Texas.
Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order
A temporary ex parte protective order requires the accused party to maintain a specific physical distance from the victim and to cease all contact. This type of protective order does not require the accused to be present when it is issued, but it can last no more than 20 days – during which the judge will make a determination regarding a final protective order
Final Protective Order
Final protective orders are intended to help protect the victim and his or her children from harm by keeping the accused away – and out of contact – for the long term. A final protective order can last up to two years.
Magistrate Emergency Protective Order
A magistrate emergency protective order is issued against anyone who is arrested for either family or domestic violence. These orders are effective from 31 to 61 days, but they can be bumped up to 91 days if the domestic violence involved a weapon.
If you have been named in any such protective order, it is illegal for you to possess a firearm.
Remaining in Compliance with the Law
If you find yourself in the precarious situation of possessing a gun and being under a protective order, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you divest yourself of your gun legally until the order is lifted. If you are caught in violation of this gun law (which is written directly on every protective order), you can expect to face the following legal consequences:
Up to $4,000 in fines
Up to 12 months in jail