You may not be aware of this, but protective orders can be granted without the subject of the order ever even being notified. We have seen cases in which a client has violated a protective order without knowing it.
We’ve also seen situations in which a protective order has been violated simply because they didn’t know what acts were considered in violation of it.
Being accused of violating a protective order is stressful enough. Finding out unexpectedly that a protective order even exists can feel even worse.
Know how protective orders in Texas and the consequences you face for violating them is the first step in navigating any accusation.
Three Types of Protective Orders in Texas
There are three types of protective orders available in Texas: temporary ex parte orders, final protective orders (permanent), and emergency orders, known as magistrate’s orders of emergency protection.
Temporary Ex Parte Orders
Temporary orders are short-term protective orders. In order to get a temporary protective order, the judge must believe that the alleged victim is in clear and present danger without it. The order lasts up to 20 days (at the judge’s discretion). It can be extended for additional 20-day periods as the judge decides or the alleged victim requests it.
Permanent Protective Orders
Permanent protective orders generally last up to two years but can be longer. We often see extended permanent orders when a felony act of violence was committed, serious bodily harm was done, or once two other protective orders have been approved.
Emergency Protective Orders
Finally, emergency protective orders are given to stalking, trafficking, violence, and sexual assault victims. These orders last one to two months but are considered aggravated by the presence of a deadly weapon.
Activities That Violate Protective Orders in Texas
There are lots of ways you can violate a protective order. Some are less obvious than others. Six of the most common protective order violations in Texas are:
- Communicating with a protected person
- Threatening a protected person
- Approaching a protected person
- Committing violence against a protected person
- GPS Tampering
- Possession of a firearm while a protective order is in place
Let’s take a closer look at each…
Communicating with the Person Holding a Protective Order
Simply communicating with someone who has a protective order against you can be a violation. It can be as simple as sending too many messages, or sending messages when you’ve been requested to stop.
Threatening the Person Holding a Protective Order
Threatening or communicating in a threatening manner is always a violation of protective orders. This includes everyone in the household of the person who has the order. Threatening a roommate is just as much of a violation as threatening the protected person themself.
Approaching the Person Holding a Protective Order
Going near the home, workplace, school of the protected person – – or any other place you could reasonably expect them to be is a violation. In particular, childcare facilities and homes of the protected person’s children should be avoided.
Committing Violence Against Holder of a Protective Order
Naturally, assaulting someone with a protective order against you is a violation of that order. It’s the easiest violation to prove. Assault includes traditional forms of assault, as well as harming or interfering with pets.
GPS devices have been found to be used for tracking protected persons in the past. Because of this, tampering with any of their GPS devices is now specifically outlined as a violation in most protective orders.
Possession of a Firearm
Simply possessing a firearm is a violation of protective orders. When you have a protective order against you, knowingly having a firearm is a violation because of the violence that usually triggers an order.
So what are the potential consequences of violating a protective order against you in Texas? It might amount to more than you expected.
The Stiff Consequences of Violating Protective Orders in Texas
Violating an order is always a crime, so long as the order is still in effect. To stop a protective order, you and the protected person must go to court. Simply apologizing is not enough. In fact, consensually meeting to apologize in person could even end in arrest for violating the order.
Penalties Depend on the Terms of the Order
Violating a protective order is usually class A misdemeanor in Texas. This alone can result in a fine of up to $4,000 or a year in prison. There are conditions that can actually increase those penalties, by the way.
You can also be ordered to pay child support, leave your home, submit to drug testing, or attend substance abuse or anger management courses. It all depends on the terms of the order.
But Three Seems to Be a Magic Number…
…because upon the third violation of a protective order, you’re suddenly facing third-degree felony charges. Assault also makes it a third-degree felony. Stalking and violating bail terms can, too. Any of these can land you two to ten years in prison plus $10,000 in fines.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.