Before someone can apply to obtain a restraining order in Texas, they must appear before a judge and explain why the order is necessary. Generally, courts issue these orders in stalking, harassment, or domestic violence cases.
If the police arrest you because you violated the terms of a restraining order, get a criminal defense attorney who will help you prove you are not a threat to the person who claims they are a victim.
Restraining Order Hearings in Texas
If you face a domestic violence charge in Texas, a separate hearing determines if a restraining order will prevent family violence.
These orders protect victims from domestic assault. Any threat, whether direct or indirect, can result in you facing a misdemeanor charge. These orders can last for upwards of two years, and if you face a criminal charge and spend any time incarcerated, the time could increase for up to a year following your release.
Restraining Order Violations
There are several ways a restraining order violation can occur. In some cases, you may not know about the violation. Make no mistake about it; if you make a threat against the victim, police can arrest you without a warrant on probable cause.
Types of violations that you may face include:
- Appearing at the victim’s home or place of work
- Threatening the victim directly or via telephone
- Using threatening language towards the victim to another person
A restraining order violation can result in your incarceration without bail. The restraining order may continue indefinitely or until a judge decides you are no longer a threat to the victim.
Weapons and Restraining Orders
If you receive a restraining order, law enforcement professionals will ask if you have any weapons in your home. They will seize any firearms because you lose your right to own them under these orders. Remember, these are court orders—if police later find you with a weapon, even if you are not near the victim, you could face additional charges. A conviction for violating a restraining order could result in your losing your legal right to own a weapon forever.
Understanding the Scope of Restraining Orders
Anyone served with a restraining order in Texas must know the scope of these orders.
Some of the restrictions or conditions may include:
- Temporary loss of child custody
- No contact with the victim and any children listed in the order
- Being forced from your home
- Evading any contact with victims and children by avoiding being near work, schools, daycare centers, or other places where the victim and their children may frequent
- Requirement to attend counseling or anger management sessions
- Avoiding having weapons on your person at all times
As you can see, having a restraining order against you can result in serious restrictions on your ability to participate in many activities and will put a strain on you and your children’s relationship.
Divorce Proceedings and Restraining Orders
Many times, spouses seek restraining orders during a legal separation or divorce proceeding. If you are served with a restraining order during this time, you must use extreme caution. Do not believe if your spouse invites you to visit the children at home, school, or other public facilities that you may do so. A court order prohibits these activities, and you must decline invitations until the other party withdraws the restraining order or it expires. Otherwise, you could face jail time.
Remember, if authorities charge you with violating a restraining order and the court finds you guilty, you may face one year of incarceration in county jail. You could also face a fine of $4,000. If you had a weapon on your person, or if you had two prior convictions of these types of violations or domestic assault, then you could be facing up to 10 years in prison because you will be facing a third-degree felony charge.
Defending Restraining Order Violation Charges
A restraining order violation is a serious charge in Texas, and you must prepare to defend yourself. Allegations of violations are common, especially if you are in the midst of a contentious divorce or child-custody battle with a spouse. You need a criminal defense attorney who knows how to prevent your conviction.
Keep in mind, the prosecutor’s office has a vested interest in making charges stick, so they will not turn a blind eye to domestic violence. Your criminal defense attorney can challenge witness statements, show you acted without criminal intent, or provide evidence showing you had no intention of violating an order.
Steps to Take if You Face Charges of Violating a Restraining Order in Texas
If you are charged with violating a restraining order in Texas, protect yourself.
Take these steps:
- Find out the date of the violation – Authorities should tell you the date of the supposed violation. Determine what you were doing on that day and record the information to the best of your ability. Be sure to list the names of any people who can verify your whereabouts.
- Determine who made the accusation – A criminal defense attorney may be the best option to handle this. However, if you can find out who claimed you violated the order, it would be helpful.
- Contact a criminal defense attorney – You cannot afford to attempt to defend these charges on your own; the stakes are too high.
If you are facing a criminal charge for violating a Texas restraining order, the more information you can gather about where you were on the day of the supposed violation, the better. Contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney can preserve your rights and give the prosecutor access to all information that proves your innocence.
In some cases, a Texas criminal defense attorney can get prosecutors to drop the charges, especially when they bring a weak case against you. Do not wait.