In Texas, a protective order is a type of court order or bond condition prohibiting an individual from approaching, communicating, stalking, or in any way violating the terms of the order or bond while it is in effect. The action begins when one person, called the Petitioner, files a motion in court against another individual, called the Respondent, requesting that the court order them to stop certain behaviors. Once the protective order is in effect, law enforcement may step in at any time the protected person feels threatened.
In Texas, there are three kinds of orders of protection available in alleged domestic violence situations:
- Ex parte or temporary protective order
- Final protective order
- Emergency protective order
A temporary order gives immediate protection to the filer and can last for up to 20 days. A permanent protective order may last for up to two years, and can go on for longer if there have been two or more protective orders, or if the accused has allegedly committed a felonious offense, even if they were not convicted. A magistrate may issue an emergency protective order if there was a deadly weapon on the scene or if serious injury resulted from a domestic altercation.
How serious is it to violate a protective order?
A protective order is quite different from a restraining order. Where a restraining order is a civil order that law enforcement cannot criminally enforce, a protective order is a civil order that is criminally enforceable that can include fines, restrictions, or even jail time.
Violating a protective order that is in effect in a family violence, child abuse, sexual assault or stalking cases can result in a Class A misdemeanor and:
- Fines of up to $4,000
- Jail time of up to one year
The offense may be prosecuted as a third-degree felony with a prison sentence of two to ten years and fines of up to $10,000 if the accused:
- Has two prior convictions for violating a protective order.
- Violated a protective order by committing an assault.
Building a defense against domestic violence charges
Couples get into fights, and there are sometimes misunderstandings that get out of hand. Sometimes these mistakes that happen in the heat of the moment take on a life of their own. In a domestic violence case, it is always important to remember that there is more than just one side to any story.
If the other side is saying things about you that just aren’t true, it is important to stand up for yourself. Having a strategy in place to effectively build a strong defense against criminal charges will allow you to fight for your rights and your future.