Violation of a Protective Order: Texas Laws and Penalties
Violating a protective order can have strong repercussions in Texas because it means you have been accused of disobeying a direct order from a judge. While it is a misdemeanor on the first offense, there are additional penalties and conditions not normally imposed in misdemeanor cases.
The police can arrest you without a warrant if an officer has probable cause to believe you threatened, assaulted or went near a person protected by a restraining order. The officer can make the arrest based on witness statements, physical evidence such as bruises on the victim, or from your own admissions.
If you are charged with violating a protection order, you can be held in jail without bail as long as the judge determines that you may pose an immediate threat to the victim.
Getting a Protective Order in Texas
Restraining orders are typically issued by Texas courts in cases involving domestic violence or stalking. A judge may grant an order of protection if you are arrested on family violence charges, or your spouse can file a petition with the court requesting protection.
The judge will hold a hearing separate from any criminal charges and issue a restraining order if there is a finding that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur in the future.
The protective order may prohibit you from committing domestic assault, making any threats – directly or indirectly through other people – or going near the other person’s home and workplace. The judge also may require you to attend a battering prevention program, and you will have to give up possession of any guns.
A restraining order is valid for as long as the judge specifies, up to two years. If you are sent to jail or prison, the order can last up to one year after you get out.
You can be charged if you violate any of the conditions in an order of protection. That includes getting caught with a gun, making threats against of the protected person’s household members, or going somewhere when you know the protected person will also be there.
Even if you and your spouse are planning to reconcile, and she invites you over, the police can and will arrest you if the restraining order is still active.
What happens if you violate a restraining order?
At the bail hearing, the judge will determine, through a preponderance of evidence, whether you violated a protective order with the intent to commit further family violence or stalking. If that is the case, the judge can order you held until trial and is not required to set bail.
A conviction for violating a protective order is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. However, if you have two or more previous convictions, it becomes a third-degree felony, carrying a possible 2 to 10 year prison sentence.
You will have a good chance of receiving probation for a first offense, but can probably expect at least some jail time if you already have a conviction on this charge. If you receive probation, or community supervision, the judge can make counseling and substance abuse treatment mandatory.
The protective order will also likely be kept in place, meaning that you might not be allowed to return to your home, will not be able to own a gun for up to five years after your probation or sentence ends, may have to attend the battering prevention program, and may be required to pay all of the victim’s attorney and counseling fees.
Fighting a Texas Restraining Order Violation Charge
Violating a protective order is a serious charge, but we can help defend you after an arrest. These cases often rely mainly on victim or witness statements and in many instances, we can challenge the credibility or accuracy of their allegations, especially when divorce or child-custody issues are involved.
Also, remember that when you are charged with violating a protective order, the state must prove that you acted with criminal intent. We may be able to present evidence showing that the violation was unintentional.
But don’t delay in speaking with an attorney. Prosecutors are frequently not willing to dismiss these charges without a fight, even when the evidence is extremely weak. A district attorney can’t be perceived as “soft on domestic violence” for political reasons. So it will often take a very skilled criminal defense attorney to argue, fight, cajole, and negotiate your way out of a serious problem.
We will fight relentlessly on your behalf, especially if we think the case against you is weak. Sometimes the prosectuor won’t let go of a case, even when the “victim” doesn’t want to pursue pressing charges. And in other circumstances, we can argue for leniency based on the circumstances, and work out a deal for counseling, anger management, or other agreements.
Please call us today for your free criminal case evaluation on any Texas protective order or restraining order violation, domestic violence, or other criminal charge.