Restraining Orders vs. Protective Orders in the State of Texas

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Many people confuse restraining orders and protective orders or believe they are one and the same. While both are used to deny contact or to require people to keep their distances, that is basically where the similarities end. Let’s take a closer look.

Restraining Order

Restraining orders are legal documents that are typically written and filed in conjunction with other legal matters such as divorce papers in order to help ensure that certain conduct is maintained throughout the legal proceeding. (What happens when you have been served divorce papers?)¬†¬†Restraining orders generally decree that the individuals specified must refrain from contacting one another and may also specify other do’s and don’ts that apply to the involved parties.

Restraining orders typically include general language that limits contact, that addresses visitation of shared children, that prevents the use of certain joint resources, and/or that addresses child support or alimony payments.

Protective Orders

Protective orders are generally connected with matters involving family violence and, as such, are intended to protect a specific family member (or party to a relationship) from being abused by the named party. These orders of protection require that the named accuser stop engaging in all of the following practices (as applicable):

A protective order can involve family members, people in romantic relationships, or people living in the same household.

Protective orders specifically pertain to the needs of the person or people who need protection, and they address the following:

  • How long the order of protection will remain valid and legally enforceable
  • How any criminal offenses will be addressed
  • Any unique protections included in the specific case in question

Enforcing Restraining Orders

Violations of restraining orders cannot be enforced criminally, which means that the police do not have the authority to take action. If a party to the order is in violation of it, the affected party can take the matter up with the court by seeking a civil resolution.

Enforcing Protective Orders

Protective orders are a different story, and violations can be addressed by the police. In fact, in situations in which emergency protective orders are needed (usually in relation to violent domestic disturbances), there are judges who are available 24 hours a day. When someone is in violation of a protective order, the police can take immediate action that can lead to hefty criminal charges. The charge of violating a protective order can lead to fines of up to $4,000 and to penalties that can reach up to two years behind bars. If the violation in question involves additional charges that relate to family violence, the accused can face additional misdemeanor or felony charges that come with additional penalties and fines.

Look to an Experienced Defense Attorney for the Legal Guidance You Need

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a formidable criminal defense attorney who has the experience, savvy, and resources to skillfully fight for your legal rights – in pursuit of your case’s most favorable resolution. To learn more, please do not wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.


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