In a domestic violence matter, one way your family or household member may seek relief from such conduct in the future is through a protective order. If they can prove to the court that violence occurred and may continue to occur, a judge may grant their request.
If you’re subject to a protective order, you may be required to follow certain conditions, such as:
- Completing a batters intervention program
- Refraining from committing any further family violence offenses
- Refraining from communicating in any way with the person named in the order
- Refraining from going near the person’s residence or place of employment
- Refraining from going near a school or child care facility of a minor named in the order
- Refraining from harming or interfering with the alleged victim’s pet or companion animal
- Surrendering firearms
Typically, protective orders can be in effect for up to 2 years. In some situations, a judge may extend the expiration date. Either way, if you’re subject to a protective order, you must be mindful of where you go, who you contact, and what you do for a long time. And if you violate any of the conditions, you could be looking at some steep consequences.
Facing Incarceration and/or Fines
Because a court issues a protective order, if you do anything that violates it, you are engaging in illegal conduct. This is true even if the act you committed is not considered a criminal offense under Texas law. For instance, say you’re prohibited from going to the protected person’s place of business. If you show up at their job one day, you could be arrested and charged with a crime. However, if your neighbor, who’s not subject to a protective order, does the same thing, they won’t be handcuffed and taken to jail.
If you are accused of violating a protective order once, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction is penalized by a fine of up to $4,000 and/or a jail term of up to 1 year. Also, if the offense you committed was considered a family violence crime, you could face a separate misdemeanor or felony charge.
If, within a 1-year period, you’ve been convicted of 2 or more protective violations, you face increased penalties. Repeated offenses are charged as third-degree felonies. If you’re convicted, you face between 2 and 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
It’s important to note that the penalties imposed because of a protective order violation are separate from those you could face if you’re subsequently convicted of the underlying domestic violence offense.