If you have been charged with violating a protective order in Texas, you could face significant penalties. In this post, we’ll explain how protective orders work, what constitutes a violation, and what happens next if you have already been charged.
How Protective Orders Work in Texas
A protective order is serious, because it means that you have been issued a direct order by a judge to refrain from certain activities. If you violate the conditions of the protective order, serious repercussions can result.
These types of orders are normally issued in cases of domestic violence. They are issued with the intent of protecting victims from assaults, threats, or even the presence of the offender. If you are under a protective order, you are required to give up any firearms you may possess, and you may be required to attend treatment programs for anger management and/or substance abuse.
The judge determines the length of the protective order. In most cases it can last up to two years, or up to one year after your release from jail or prison.
Violating a Protective Order
You can be arrested without a warrant if probable cause exists that you assaulted or threatened the victim or entered prohibited spaces. Physical evidence and statements by witnesses can be enough to result in your arrest.
It also doesn’t matter if no one gets hurt. Even if you are invited over by your ex for a reconciliation meeting, you can be arrested for violating the protective order.
Other factors that can result in an arrest include being caught in possession of a firearm. It’s essential that you follow the mandates of turning in firearms to law enforcement officials, licensed dealers, or a valid third party within the time frame indicated by the judge’s orders.
A first offense of violating a protective order is normally a misdemeanor with more conditions and penalties added on, as compared with regular misdemeanors.
The Legal Process after a Protective Order Violation
You will be arrested and sent to jail while you wait for a bail hearing. At the hearing, the judge will look at the evidence and decide whether a violation occurred. You can be released if the evidence does not support a charge. Otherwise, you will remain in jail until a trial is held. You may or may not be allowed to post bail during this waiting period. The judge will set the time limit based on his or her decision on how much of a threat you pose to the victim.
At the trial, you will receive sentencing. If convicted of a first time protective order violation, you will face penalties for a Class A misdemeanor. These penalties include up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both. A skilled attorney can work to reduce your penalties to probation rather than jail time.
If you have previous convictions, you will face penalties for a third-degree felony. This will result in between two and 10 years in prison. Your attorney may be able to reduce your sentence to jail time only, but you may face substance abuse treatment and therapy in addition to incarceration.
After serving your sentence, the judge will likely require the protective order to remain in effect. If this happens, you may not be allowed to return home. Your firearm rights will be revoked for an additional five years past your sentence or probation. Also, you may be required to pay for the victim’s legal and therapy costs.
Fighting a Texas Violation of Protective Order Charge
Only an experienced Texas criminal attorney has the skills and knowledge necessary to fight your charges. Some of the things a good lawyer may do include:
Contesting witness statements that work against you. In situations involving relationship breakups and child custody disagreements, this is especially important, since witnesses often provide false testimonies.
Examining the facts of your case to raise questions about intent. For example, if you are accused of intentionally entering the space where your ex-spouse was present, we can help you form a strong defense that you lacked intent.
Timing is important when building a defense against a protection order violation. The earlier in the process you start working with a skilled protective order violation attorney, the more likely it is that they will be able to form the strongest possible argument against your charges.
You need an aggressive advocate who will fight for your rights and your reputation. Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
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.