A protective order, sometimes called a restraining order, is a court order to prevent contact and future abuse or violence. A protective order generally sets limits on contact between certain individuals, including preventing contact in person, by phone, or electronic media. When a person violates the terms of the protective order, he or she may face criminal charges, including possible jail time.
After a separation, child custody dispute, or divorce, one person may try to get into contact to save the relationship or keep the family together. However, violating a protective order can be taken very seriously in the State of Texas. If you or a family member was charged with violating a protective order, contact an Odessa, Texas criminal defense lawyer to understand your rights and how to fight the criminal charges against you.
Texas Protective Orders
Generally, the person seeking a protective order has to file for the order in court. The individual can seek a temporary ex parte order for a short period before the request for a permanent order can be held. A temporary ex parte order generally lasts for 2 weeks. A general protective order generally lasts for 2 years. Protective orders can be issued in cases of:
Protective Orders in Ector County
A protective order is generally filed in the county where the petitioner or respondent resides. For example, if the individual seeking a protection order lives in Odessa, he or she could file for the order through the Ector County District Attorney's Office, through a lawyer, or legal aid service.
After filing for the order, the court will generally set a hearing date within 14 days. If the court finds that there is a clear and present danger of family violence, the court can issue a temporary ex parte order, which is valid for up to 20 days.
What Does a Protective Order Prohibit in Texas?
A protective order generally prohibits future acts of violence and contact between the petitioner (person requesting protection) and the respondent (the person who is being requested to stay away). Protective orders can prohibit:
- Family violence or an act in furtherance of family violence;
- Communication with, or through another to, a protected individual or household member in a threatening or harassing way;
- Communication in any other prohibited manner;
- Possession of a firearm;
- Harm, threats, or interference with the care, custody, or control of a pet or companion animal; or
- Removal or tampering with a global positioning monitoring system.
The restraining order may also prohibit other actions, including going to or near the person's home, workplace, family home, school, or daycare center.
Prohibited communication includes electronic communication, including text messages, emails, and social media posts.
Penalties for Violating a Protective Order in Texas
Violating a protective order in Texas is a Class A misdemeanor. The penalties for a conviction for a Class A misdemeanor can include up to 1 year in county jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
Violating a protective order can be a 3rd Degree felony if the defendant:
- Has previously been convicted 2 or more times of an offense under this section and/or violating a protective order; or
- Has violated the order or condition of bone by committing an assault or stalking.
As a 3rd Degree felony, violating a protective order can result in 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
What Should You Do If Served with a Restraining Order?
If you are served with a temporary restraining order or protection order, do not try and contact the other person to clear things up. You may believe there is no need for a protective order, do not understand why one was issued, or want answers about why the other person felt threatened if you never meant any harm. Do not contact anyone who is the subject of the protection order. If you contact the person and they notify the police, you may be held in contempt of court or face possible criminal charges.
Talk to your lawyer about your rights after receiving a protection order. There should be a hearing where you will have the chance to respond to the order and state your side of the case. You should appear at the hearing in order to preserve your rights. If you cannot make the scheduled hearing, you should contact the court. Your lawyer can represent you during a protective order hearing and make sure have a chance to defend yourself, your property, and your access to your children.
Odessa Family Violence Defense Lawyer
If you were accused of violating a restraining order in Odessa, Texas, the Law Office of E. Jason Leach, PLLC is here to fight for you. To set up a free consultation contact the Law Office of E. Jason Leach today at (432) 552-7000.