What Happens If You Violate a Protective Order?

Protection orders are designed to keep people safe from harm. But what if the rules of such an order are broken? It’s crucial to understand that there are severe punishments for not following these court orders. 

Everyone deserves to feel safe, and protection orders can provide that assurance. However, some individuals may inadvertently fail to comply with these orders. They need to realize that there are serious consequences for their actions. Violating a protection order can lead to imprisonment, substantial fines, and other penalties.

Protective Order Defined

A protective order, also called a restraining order, is a court document that keeps people safe from harm or harassment. These orders can require the person causing harm to stay away from the victim, their home, their workplace, or their children.

The person who asks for the protective order is called the petitioner. The person who has to follow the protective order and stay away from the petitioner is called the respondent.

What Are Considered Violations of a Restraining Order?

Under Texas Penal Code § 25.07, a protective order is breached when an individual knowingly or intentionally:

  • Commits family violence or aids in human trafficking, sexual assault, indecent assault, sexual abuse, or stalking;
  • Directly contacts the alleged victim or their family or household member in a threatening or harassing manner;
  • Uses someone else to threaten a protected person, their family, or a household member;
  • Communicates with the protected person or their family or household member in any way prohibited by the order;
  • Is near or goes to places listed in the order or bond conditions;
  • Has a firearm when close to the petitioner;
  • Harms, threatens, or interferes with the care of a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal owned by a protected person;
  • Removes or tampers with a GPS monitoring system.

Criminal Cases for Which Protective Orders Are Issued

Courts issue protective orders, also known as restraining orders, for various reasons, such as:

These orders can be classified as emergency, temporary, or permanent, and they may include similar restrictions as conditions for release on bond in cases of family violence.

Different Types of Protective Orders

Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs): Temporary orders from a judge or magistrate to protect against family violence, sexual assault, or stalking, lasting 31 to 91 days or until a full hearing.

Temporary Ex Parte Orders (TEPOs): Temporary orders without the respondent present, providing immediate protection until a full hearing, typically within 14 days.

Temporary Protective Orders (TPOs): Temporary orders issued after a hearing where both parties are present, lasting up to 20 days but extendable.

Final Protective Orders: Long-term orders issued after a full hearing with both parties presenting evidence, lasting up to two years and extendable.

Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection (MOEP): Orders from magistrates protecting against family violence, sexual assault, or stalking, lasting up to 91 days.

Consequences of Violating a Protective Order in Texas

Violating a protective order in Texas is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in county jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

However, if the defendant has two or more prior convictions for violating a protective order or if they violate the order by committing assault or stalking, it becomes a 3rd degree felony. This results in a penalty of 2 to 10 years of jail time and a fine of up to $10,000.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

If you or someone you know is facing charges for violating a protective order, it’s crucial to seek help from a skilled criminal defense lawyer. The outcome of your case could have a significant impact on your future and freedom. A lawyer can provide valuable guidance, protect your rights, and work to achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. Their expertise can significantly impact your ability to navigate the legal process and ensure fair treatment.