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Handling a Protective Order

Protective orders are common in Texas. A family violence protective order will typically limit your ability to contact the person who sought the order. At The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates, we have helped many people subject to these orders navigate their legal responsibilities. Protective orders are sometimes part of a divorce, which can make things complicated, especially if you have young children.

Under Section 25.07 of the Texas Penal Code, you can face criminal charges for violating a family violence or child abuse protective order. Please reach out to our firm to talk with a League City family law attorney about how to respond. You could easily end up in jail if you do not have the right legal representation.

What the Law Prohibits

A protective order is a judicial order prohibiting you from doing certain things. You can get arrested and charged under this statute if you intentionally or knowingly:

  • Commit family violence;
  • Threaten or even communicate with anyone protected by the order;
  • Go near a protected person’s residence, job, school, or daycare;
  • Possess a gun or other firearm;
  • Interfere or threaten a protected person’s pet;
  • Tamper with a GPS system; or
  • Stalk a protected person or monitor their vehicle using an electronic device without permission.

If you commit any of these offenses in violation of your protective order, you can be picked up by the police and face criminal charges.

What Penalties Do You Face?

For violating the protective order—which is what this section of the Penal Code prohibits—you can face Class A misdemeanor charges in most cases. That would mean a maximum $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail if convicted. That’s a heavy penalty for calling someone you weren’t supposed to or showing up to their job.

However, charges can be enhanced if you have at least two prior convictions for violating a protective order. In that case, you could face a third-degree felony charge, with 2-10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Remember that an out-of-state violation could also count as a “prior,” so discuss your criminal history with your defense attorney. For example, you might have violated a family violence protective order in California, which would count.

You might even face a third-degree felony charge if you committed stalking or assault. You don’t need any prior convictions to suffer those penalties.

We should also mention that many prohibited acts are also crimes by themselves. You could face separate criminal charges for those acts, in addition to charges for violating the protective order.

How to Comply with the Protective Order

Being served with a protective order is a disorientating experience. The police might even march you out of the house, as you struggle to find a place to crash.

Other common problems arise. For example, your ex-wife or girlfriend might start calling you or texting you because she wants to get back. She might even drive to your place and bang on the door.

Unfortunately, the person protected by the order doesn’t get to selectively enforce it, and they can’t suspend it or revoke it. Once it’s in place, you need to follow it until a judge dissolves it. So don’t think you can raise that as a defense: “She called me.” You can still be arrested.

Contact a lawyer quickly. The initial order is probably “ex parte,” meaning without a hearing. But you should have a chance to present your version of events and get a judge to dissolve the order. We can find useful evidence.

And if you get picked up for violating the order? We can defend you. Maybe it was a simple mistake. For example, it’s not a violation if someone uses your cell phone to make a call, or if you accidentally ran into your ex in the grocery store.

How Violations Impact a Divorce

If you’re in the middle of a custody fight, then any violation of a protective order could hurt your chances. A judge might conclude you aren’t trustworthy, or they might think you’re a danger to the children. Needless to say, a violation for possessing a gun would also raise huge red flags.

Even how you defend yourself against an alleged violation would matter. For example, you never want to lie under oath, which could come back to haunt you.

Let us work to get a frivolous or unfair protective order dissolved or narrowed. You should immediately call Tad Nelson & Associates to schedule a free consultation with a family law attorney.