Have you been accused of violating a protective order in Texas? Such allegations happen for all sorts of reasons, and yes, mistakes happen. And while it may be tempting to try and explain a misunderstanding, these are no charges to take lightly.
You face harsh criminal penalties and consequences if you are found guilty of violating a protective order.
Protect yourself by contacting an experienced Houston violent crimes lawyer for violating a Texas protective order. Contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett for a free and confidential case assessment to explore your options further. Call (713) 222-6767Today.
What’s a Texas Protective Order?
A protective order is like a restraining order in that it prohibits a named person from being in any contact, communication, or within a certain distance of the alleged victim of a crime.
There are temporary ex parte protection orders and permanent orders of protection. Temporary ex parte orders typically last for two weeks before being dismissed or becoming permanent.
Generally, protective orders are issued in instances of:
Texas protective orders prohibit various actions and behaviors, including:
- Communicating via phone, email, social media, or in person
- Communication with the alleged victim through another family or household member
- Continuing to threaten or harass the alleged victim
- Engaging in other acts of domestic violence
- Tampering with or removing the alleged victim’s GPS
- Possession of a firearm
- Interfering with the custody or care of children or pets
- Threatening to harm or harming
- Coming within a certain distance of the alleged victim’s work, home, school, or children’s daycare facility
Getting a Protective Order in Harris County, TX
Generally, protective orders need to be filed where the alleged victim resides. In Houston, a victim must file a protective order with the Harris County District Attorney’s office.
A temporary ex parte protective order will likely be issued at this time, and a hearing date will be set within 14 days. A permanent restraining order may be issued if the court determines a valid instance of domestic violence, or the alleged victim is at threat of physical bodily harm or death.
Penalties for Violating a Protection Order
If you were accused of violating an order of protection in Texas, expect Class A misdemeanor charges. If convicted, you face a maximum penalty of one year in a Harris County jail and fines as high as $4,000.
When aggravating circumstances are present, such as you have a history of violating protective orders or were accused of stalking or committing an assault, you may be charged with a third-degree felony. This exposes you to a maximum of 10 years in prison and fines not to exceed $10,000.
There are also collateral consequences if you’re convicted of violating a Texas protection order. Any potential employers that check your background, housing officials, or educational institutions will see a conviction on your record. You may also be at risk for deportation, child custody, or visitation issues and possibly lose your firearm rights.
For all these reasons, you must act if you are accused of violating an order of protection or have had an order of protection taken out against you.
What to Do If a Protection Order is Filed Against You?
When a protection order has been filed against you, the last thing you should do is try to contact the alleged victim in your case to clear up the matter. Contact a defense lawyer instead.
It is also important that you do not contact them through third parties, social media, phone, or any other way. If you do, you may be at risk of being held in contempt and charged with violating the order.
Once you have an attorney, you can figure out how best to defend yourself. For instance, your attorney can appear at the official hearing, where you can provide evidence and explain the situation.
Common Violations & Things to Avoid
After a protective order has been taken out against you, there are several things you need to avoid. Otherwise, you could put yourself in an even more challenging situation.
Examples of potential violations include:
- Failure to pay court costs
- Failure to adhere to child visitation schedules
- Coming within a certain distance of the alleged victim
- Refusing to move out of your shared home
- Possessing or purchasing a gun
- Visiting a school or workplace you share with the alleged victim
How to Deal with Violating a Protection Order Charges
The process for when you are accused of violating a Texas order of protection can be complex. However, the process can go much more smoothly when you have an attorney working for you.
Here is a general idea of what you can expect after your arrest for a protective order violation:
- You will be arraigned and enter your plea. In most cases, you will plead not guilty. But you also have the option of pleading guilty or no contest.
- Once you enter your plea, the judge will determine whether bail should be set. If the court finds you to be a dangerous person or a risk to society or the alleged victim, they will more likely deny your right to bail. Your attorney can help you prearrange bail so you can spend as little time incarcerated as possible.
- Before your trial commences in Harris County court, your attorney will have an opportunity to review the evidence the state has against you and attempt to work out a plea agreement, file necessary pretrial motions, and potentially get the charges dropped. There may be a motion hearing if your attorney determines it is in your best interests to file a motion to get certain pieces of evidence excluded.
- If there are no evidentiary problems, but the state is unwilling to work out a plea agreement with you, you can expect to have your case go to trial, where you will face criminal charges for violating a protective order.
The Importance of a Lawyer in Protection Order Cases
Having a defense attorney take on your protective order violation case could make all the difference in resolving it. An attorney can negotiate with the state, consider all the evidence, and determine how to defend your case appropriately.
Although you may be eligible for a pretrial diversion program or plea agreement, this may not be the case since many protective order violations involve violent offenses. However, if the offense was not violent and you are a first-time offender, you will likely have an opportunity to obtain a plea or enter a diversion program. This is much more favorable than bringing your case to court.
Defenses for Violating a Protection Order
Multiple potential defenses could be used to defend against the protective order violations you are accused of. Some of the more common defenses utilized include:
- An argument was misconstrued or taken out of context
- Your ex-spouse made false allegations
- Lack of intent to violate the protective order
- Prosecutorial or police misconduct
- Lack of probable cause
- Lack of sufficient evidence
- Miranda rights violations
These are just a few examples of defenses that could be used. A lawyer can better assess how to approach allegations that you violated a protective order and what strategy may apply to your unique case.
Get Help from a Defense Lawyer in Harris County, TX
When you have been accused of violating a protective order, it is crucial to deal with the situation quickly, so the allegations and possible conviction don’t define your life.
As a former persecutor and experienced Houston defense lawyer, attorney Ned Barnett can help. Contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett for a free and confidential case review. Call (713) 222-6767 or contact us online.