What is a Texas Protective Order, and What Does it Mean For Subjects?

Before we explain anything else about protective orders in Texas, it is important for you to understand that becoming a subject of a protective order does not mean you have been charged with a crime. Protective orders can be a precursor to certain criminal charges. And, violating the terms of a protective order is likely to be a criminal charge. However, there is no reason to panic if you have been served with a Texas protective order. 

What is a Protective Order?

A protective order, sometimes called a restraining order, is a court order that compels Texans to do—or not do–certain things. One of the most common conditions of a protective order is to refrain from contacting the person who petitioned for the protective order (called the “petitioner”) and the petitioner’s children or other family members. A protective order can also require the subject (called the “abuser”) to keep a certain distance from the petitioner. 

Depending on the nature of the petitioner’s allegations, a protective order may: 

  • Force the abuser to surrender firearms;
  • Move out of the family home;
  • Keep the abuser from selling assets;
  • Require the abuser to start paying child support; or
  • Compel the abuser to complete a batterer’s intervention program.

A court order cannot physically stop the abuser from violating any one of the protective order’s conditions. However, violating a condition of a Texas protective order is typically a Class A Misdemeanor, which carries a county jail sentence of up to one year. Sometimes, a protective order violation may be a state jail felony, which carries a sentence of up to two years (and a minimum of 180 days).

A protective order violation that’s done by assault or stalking, or repeated violations, could be a third-degree felony in Texas. This charge carries a possible 10-year prison sentence.

Who Can Petition for a Protective Order?

Most protective orders are granted for victims of alleged domestic violence by a family or household member. This could include two people who:

  • Are related by blood or marriage;
  • Are in a current romantic relationship;
  • Used to be in a romantic relationship;
  • Are connected by past romantic relationships (current partner of your ex-spouse, for example)
  • Live together; or
  • Have a child together. 

Different types of protective orders are available when the abuser is not a family or household member but is accused of stalking, sexual assault, sexual abuse, or trafficking. 

What to Do if You Become the Subject of a Protective Order

In situations where the judge believes that harm to the petitioner is imminent, the abuser will become the subject of the protective order without having his or her day in court (temporary protective order). Otherwise, both sides will be able to present evidence in support of or against a proposed protective order. 

As soon as you are served with a protective order, you need to carefully and thoroughly read the order. Make note of the conditions and adhere to every single one. You might think that the whole thing is just a big misunderstanding and that a simple conversation with the petitioner will clear things up. Don’t do this. This can be a violation of the order and weaken your case at the outset.

The order might include the date of a future hearing to contest the allegations and argue against a permanent order. Whatever the case may be, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. 

Attorney Charles A. Banker, III understands how delicate situations involving protective orders can be. Our team stands ready to protect your rights and provide a premium defense at every turn. Call us today at (713) 227-4100 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III

Our firm’s founder, Charles A. Banker III, has been a solo criminal defense practitioner with offices in Houston and McAllen, TX for over 30 years. He understands what it means to work independently in today’s hyperconnected world, but he also knows that sometimes you need to lean on others.

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