Texas courts issue protective orders, commonly referred to as restraining orders, to protect victims of abuse and violence. While many protective orders are reasonable and warranted, it is not uncommon for alleged “victims” to request and use protective orders to gain the upper hand in child custody, divorce, and other court proceedings.
If a court has issued a protective order against you, you should take the situation very seriously because your freedom may be at stake. It is critical to consult with a Coryell County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible if you have been hit with a restraining order in Texas.
Why Do Texas Courts Issue Protective Orders?
In Texas, being a victim of the following criminal offenses can serve as grounds for requesting a protective order:
Psychological or emotional abuse
Most protective orders in Texas are filed to prevent domestic violence and to protect one spouse from the abusive spouse while a divorce is pending. When a court grants a protective order, the respondent – the person against whom the order was issued – is required to stay away from the petitioner and prohibited from attempting to threaten or communicate with them.
What Are the Types of Protective Orders in Texas?
Texas law recognizes three types of protective orders:
Emergency. A court may issue an emergency protective order when you have been arrested for sexual or abuse, domestic violence, or stalking. Emergency protective orders are effective for up to 61 days. However, when an incident involves assault with the use of a deadly weapon, the emergency protection order may last for 91 days. A request for an emergency protective order can be requested by the victim of the crime, the police, a prosecutor, or the judge.
Temporary. A judge may issue a temporary protective order without hearing the respondent’s side of the story. In other words, if someone requests a protective order against you, you will not have a chance to defend yourself at the hearing before the order is issued. Temporary protective orders typically last 20 days. However, the court may grant an extension of a temporary protective order upon the petitioner’s request or if the respondent has not been served with the protective order at the end of its expiration date. If a protective order was issued as part of a criminal or civil proceeding, the order would remain in effect until the proceedings are complete.
Permanent. Once the court has a chance to hear both the petitioner and respondent, it may decide to issue a permanent protective order. In Texas, permanent protective orders remain in effect for the period specified in the court order. Generally, the duration of a permanent protective order does not exceed two years. However, the petitioner may request the court to extend the permanent order.
What Happens After a Protective Order is Issued
When someone files protective order against you, a judge may grant the order if it believes that the petitioner is in immediate danger. The judge may issue a temporary protective order, which will be effective for at least 20 days.
The type and terms of a protective order depend on the nature and severity of the allegations made in the petition requesting the order. For example, if the petitioner is your spouse who accuses you of domestic violence, you will most likely be ordered to vacate the marital home to comply with the protective order.
After a protective order is issued, you may be required to stay away from the petitioner and avoid contacting or communicating with them in person or electronically, including making phone calls, sending text messages, emails, or interacting on social media, etc.
In addition, a protective order will prohibit you from contacting the petitioner through a third party, including a family member or friend. While the temporary protective order is in effect, you will be notified of the date of hearing for a permanent protective order.
What Happens if I Violate a Protective Order in Texas?
Following a violation of the protective order, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest. You will be taken to jail and will have to attend a bail hearing. During the bail hearing, the judge will have to decide whether the violation actually occurred.
Then, you will remain in custody while awaiting a trial. At the trial, you will face the following penalties for violating the terms of the restraining order:
If it is your first violation of the protective order: You will be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a maximum fine of $4,000 and up to a year in jail.
If you have prior violations of the protective order: You will be convicted of a third-degree felony punishable by from 2 to 10 years in prison.
It is essential to contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to dismiss or reduce the charges.
How to Avoid Protective Order Violations in Texas?
The best way to avoid violating a protective order is to follow the terms of the order, including staying away from the petitioner and avoiding any forms of contact with him or her.
If a court has issued a protective order against you, avoid the following:
Trying to contact the petitioner through a third party;
Sending messages, tagging, or mentioning the petitioner on social media platforms; and
Responding to the petitioner’s attempts to communicate with you (the petitioner may be trying to provoke you).
It is advisable to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer if a protective order has been issued against you. A skilled attorney can help you avoid violating the order and fight for the dismissal or reduction of criminal charges.