At the Fulgham Law Firm, P.C., our seasoned criminal defense attorneys understand just how devastating criminal charges can be, especially when they involve a claim of violating a protective order.
In Texas, a conviction for failing to adhere to the terms of a valid protective order can result in numerous penalties, including jail time and harsh monetary fines. That is why it is critical to hire a team of criminal attorneys who are experienced in handling these types of cases, as early intervention can mean the difference between serious jail time and freedom.
The most common context that someone has a protective order placed upon them is in a domestic violence allegation. However, Tarrant County criminal courts will place a protective order on the accused on several other criminal charges, including: sexual assault, stalking, indecent assault, trafficking and other household, dating or family violence based offenses.
It isn’t uncommon for parties to try and reconcile their differences after a protective order has been issued. However, what they sometimes fail to realize that even good intentions can result in a criminal conviction. In other words, any private agreement between people to resume their relationship does not affect the validity of an existing protective order. This means that there cannot be any communications between the protected party and the wrongdoer while the protective order is in place. The defendant is also prohibited from visiting the victim’s home or place of business, or any other location identified in the order. For an alleged victim to resume contact with the defendant, both parties must return back to court and request that a judge either modify or terminate the order.
Keep in mind that without having the order either modified or terminated, you could be charged with a class A misdemeanor; repeated violations have greater legal consequences, including a felony conviction. Not only can this land you in jail, it could also damage your personal and professional reputations, potentially making it difficult for you to obtain gainful employment or suitable housing.
What Is An Emergency Protective Order?
If you have been arrested for a domestic violence crime, as part of your arraignment, a magistrate judge will issue an emergency protective order (EPO) because there is an alleged victim of domestic abuse. This can take place as a result of an alleged victim requesting the EPO or the police can recommend this to the judge as part of the bonding process. If the emergency protective order is issued as a result of a domestic violence incident, the judge will set the time frame of the protective order to run from 30 – 90 days, depending upon the nature of the charge.
What Should You Do If A Detective Calls You About A Protective Order?
If you have been charged with violating a protective order and are being asked to speak with investigators about your case, do not do so without having seasoned legal counsel by your side. Anything you say can and most definitely will be used against you in court.
What if you are innocent? Shouldn’t you talk to the detective and explain your innocence to clear your name? Beware! This is a very risky proposition. In theory, it would be great if you could trust the detective to listen to and interpret your statements accurately to clear your name. Unfortunately, it does not work this way! Detectives are trained to interrogate suspects and it is highly unlikely you will be given the opportunity to explain yourself and the circumstances. Instead, you will be asked a series of interrogating questions that presuppose your guilt and you leave yourself open to your answers being interpreted by the detective as being incriminating.
What if the detective does allow you to tell your story? Even in this situation, you create the unnecessary risk that the detective will interpret your statements as confessions to the crime of violation of a protective order. So what should you do?
The moment you receive a phone call from a detective, you should call an aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney that has a track record of obtaining favorable results for violation of protective order cases. An attorney experienced in handling Violation of protective order cases will be able to review your legal options, advise you of your rights, and help you to proceed in your case with the most solid and effective defense strategies possible. Don’t sacrifice your rights – contact the Fulgham Law Firm, P.C. today to learn more about how we can help you.
Violation of Protective Order Laws In Texas
Under the Texas Penal Code Sec. 25.07 entitled “Violation of Certain Court Orders or Conditions of Bond in Family Violence Case,” the law provides in pertinent part that:
“(a) A person commits an offense if, in violation of a condition of bond set in a family violence case and related to the safety of the victim or the safety of the community, an order issued under Article 17.292, Code of Criminal Procedure, an order issued under Section 6.504, Family Code, Chapter 83, Family Code, if the temporary ex parte order has been served on the person, or Chapter 85, Family Code, or an order issued by another jurisdiction as provided by Chapter 88, Family Code, the person knowingly or intentionally:
- commits family violence or an act in furtherance of an offense under Section 22.011, 22.021, or 42.072;
- communicates: (A) directly with a protected individual or a member of the family or household in a threatening or harassing manner; (B) a threat through any person to a protected individual or a member of the family or household; or (C) in any manner with the protected individual or a member of the family or household except through the person’s attorney or a person appointed by the court, if the violation is of an order described by this subsection and the order prohibits any communication with a protected individual or a member of the family or household;
- goes to or near any of the following places as specifically described in the order or condition of bond: (A) the residence or place of employment or business of a protected individual or a member of the family or household; or (B) any child care facility, residence, or school where a child protected by the order or condition of bond normally resides or attends;
- possesses a firearm; or
- harms, threatens, or interferes with the care, custody, or control of a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal that is possessed by a person protected by the order.”
What Is The Penalty For Violating A Protective Order In Texas?
Violating a protective order is a serious crime in Texas. For a first-offense Violation of a Protective Order, a Texas citizen will be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by a time in jail of up to 1 year and a fine of up to $4,000.
If the State of Texas can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime of violation of a protective order and the protective order was issued because there was an alleged victim of sexual abuse, sexual assault, indecency with a child, stalking or indecent assault, you could be facing a state jail felony, punishable by a term in prison of up to 2 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
If there is proof that the accused has been convicted of violation a protective order two or more times, there can be a 3rd degree felony Violation Of Protective Order charge filed. Being convicted of a 3rd degree felony can result in a prison sentence of not less than 2 but not more than 20 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Can A Protective Order Or Emergency Protective Order Be Removed?
It is definitely possible. The most common means by which to have a protective order removed is to retain an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to examine the evidence. If the alleged victim desires the protective order to be removed, your criminal attorney can work with the alleged victim to prepare an affidavit of non-prosecution that can be used to modify or remove a protective order. Upon completion of the affidavit, your criminal lawyer can file a motion to modify protective order with the court and attach the affidavit of non-prosecution outlining the alleged victim’s desire to remove the protective order and that they are not scared of the accused. This provides a strong argument for your legal defense to have the protective order modified or removed.
Legal Defenses To The Crime Of Violating A Protective Order In Texas
If you have been arrested and charged with the crime of violation of a protective order, it is critical that you become aware of possible legal defenses available to you to have your violation of protective order case dismissed. We will examine a few common defenses that may be helpful.
Lack of Notice Of The Protective Order
What if you did not receive notice of the protective order? What if you moved residences or the paperwork was not served to you? If you never received notice that the protective order existed, you cannot be held criminally liable for the crime of violation of a protective order. The same issue can arise if you were unaware of a protective order hearing and the judge issued a default protective order.
Lack of Criminal Intent
In order to be convicted of the crime of violation of a protective order, you must have acted intentionally or knowingly. What if you had no idea that the alleged victim was at a particular location when you arrived? What if the alleged victim came to your residence and they called the police? The State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally or knowingly engaged in the acts that are listed as prohibited in the protective order.
For example: What if you visited a restaurant in the area and the alleged victim showed up while you were eating? Obviously, you did not know that the alleged victim would be present or you would not have chosen this particular restaurant. It is critical in a situation like this that you document your arrival, have any witnesses present provide a statement to establish context and that you had no criminal intent. Accidental contact with the alleged victim listed in the protective order is not a criminal act. The contact MUST be intentional and knowing in order to be criminal.
Remember, you have no burden to prove anything on a criminal case. The State of Texas must always prove each and every element of the crime of violating a protective order beyond a reasonable doubt. Failure to meet this high burden will result in a not guilty verdict at a jury trial.
Additionally, if you are facing a felony violation of a protective order charge, your criminal defense lawyer can gather evidence establishing your legal defense and make a presentation to a grand jury. A grand jury is required to review every felony case in Texas. Your criminal attorney can provide your side of the story and possible get your violation of a protective order case lowered to a lesser misdemeanor charge or dismissed through a no bill.
There are several defenses that can be raised on behalf of a person charged with violating a protective order in Texas. To learn more about how you can challenge your criminal charges, contact our seasoned criminal defense lawyer today. We have the knowledge, skill and experience necessary to help fight for your rights and potentially have your charges reduced or even dropped. While we cannot guarantee a certain outcome in your case, we will take all measures legally possible to maximize your chances of receiving a favorable outcome.
Call us right now to get help.
We’ve helped hundreds of people in Texas and we can help you too. We’ll set you up with a free conversation with Mr. Fulgham which will help you know what to do next. The Fulgham Law Firm serves Fort Worth and Tarrant county area.