Restraining orders serve to prevent altercations between two or more individuals. If a restraining order has been issued against you, you must seek legal counsel immediately. A criminal charge is most preventable when you contact a criminal defense attorney to help during the pre-charge process. The sooner you can clear your name from any trouble, the better.
The Gonzalez Law Group, located in Houston, TX can help you investigate the restraining order and advise you on what to do next. The Gonzalez Law Group is a family firm with years of experience defending people against charges, including those involving restraining orders. Call (832) 530-4070 to receive a free consultation. The Gonzalez Law Group is available to clients in the cities of Houston, Galveston, Friendswood, La Porte, Deer Park, Pasadena, Pearland, Baytown, and more.
Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs)
A court usually implements a temporary restraining order when there’s a dissolution of marriage suit in place. A temporary restraining order is separate from criminal proceedings unless something happens that altercates the situation. The restraining order is placed as protection of either party or his or her property. This order can still happen with or without the knowledge of the other party. The temporary restraining order is in place for 14 days or until the hearing, whichever occurs first. This type of order is not enforceable through criminal proceedings; however, for the hearing to be on your side, you should follow the specification of the restraining order.
Temporary Ex Parte Order
A Temporary Ex Parte Order, generally seen as an emergency protective order, does not involve a specific set of individuals. Instead, a Temporary Ex Parte Order works rapidly against any person suspected of sexual assault, indecent assault, stalking, trafficking, or abuse against the applicant and his or her family. There is still an application necessary for a temporary ex Parte order to be issued. Usually, there has to be an elicit danger posed against the party for it to be issued right away. Eventually, there will need to be a hearing that has the applicant bring about evidence that such an offense has occurred. The court will have to assess the offense, which can serve as a time to come up with the defense for why that order should have never existed in the first place. This order is usually issued for 20 days but can be extended to an additional 20 days, depending on the judge.
Family Violence Protective Orders
This offense will most likely involve conflict between family members, domestic partners, spouses, roommates, co-workers, friends, or closely linked individuals living together. According to Title 4, Family Code, the court bases their decision if any of the following has happened already:
- Criminal mischief
According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § Chapter 6.08, the court issues a family violence protective order if there’s a reason to believe violence will occur again. Another protection order that can involve family but not necessarily involve violence per se consists of a protection order against stalking. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 6.09, while still hinting at family altercations, overlaps with protection orders against stalking, an order which doesn’t necessarily involve family.
Penal Code § 42.072 reviews stalking. The statute explains that stalking occurs when the perpetrator or person knowingly commits an illegal action against someone else on more than one occasion. The act can be harassment or anything seen as intimidating by the other person. This can include:
- Fear of bodily injury/death
- Fear of bodily injury/death against one’s family member or partner in a dating relationship
- Fear of trespassing one’s property
- Fear of feeling harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, or offended
- Bodily injury/death
- Bodily injury/death of one’s family or partner in a dating relationship
- Trespassing one’s property
Note: A dating relationship is a relationship that is either of romantic or intimate nature. All this is subject to the length and nature of the relationship, and interaction between the parties involved.
Note: Family as determined by consanguinity and affinity
Note: Property can include personal and real property, as well as pets, companion animals, and assistance animals
Stalking is punishable as a third-degree felony unless the stalker or offender has a similar type of offense against them. The new charge will be liable as a second-degree felony in that case. The same previous kind of offense could have taken place inside any other U.S state, a territory of the U.S, or an official Indian tribe.
Non-Family Protection Orders
Chapter § 7a of the Code of Criminal Procedure includes protection orders not involving family members. This type of protection order also doesn’t require any previous altercations or incidents either. Offenses by which this type of protection order can be issued against are divided into two sections under Texas law.
Section 1 crimes
- Repeated child sexual abuse
- Indecency with a child
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Indecent Assault
Section 2 crimes
- Human Trafficking or Continuous human trafficking
- Persuaded Prostitution
Restraining Order Rules
The rules of a restraining order are according to the specifics of what the court declares. If someone threatens you with false information involving your restraining order, such as potential punishments, contact the court and most importantly, a lawyer for a quick defense to fall back on. The following rules can be posed to you during a restraining order but can always be adjusted according to the court. The court may limit or ban the following:
- Communication with the applicant, the applicant’s family members/household (either in a hostile manner or entirely as designed by the court)
- Approaching the applicant’s living area, workplace, commercial business, daycare, or school (applies to the applicant’s family members/household)
- Any behavior that is likely to provoke the applicant or his or her family or members or household
- Possession of firearm(s) or ammunition
- License to possess a firearm(s)
Particular circumstances for family violence inducers can include additional requirements:
- Battering intervention and prevention program
However, in most cases, you are allowed to speak to the applicant’s legal counsel or lawyer. If you are present at the hearing, you will receive a copy of the protection order. If you are not present at the hearing, the court will make a copy available to you through the mail by the third business day. Temporary Ex Parte orders have no previous notice, though. A hearing is mandatory for whichever protection order, in which you will have time to claim your defense.
The court should also state the exact distance you must be from certain people or places. The court will also provide the specification of the sites or people you have to stay from unless there is a breach of privacy involving the safety of the applicant. Texas law also states that no one has the power to change the protection order, not even the applicant, except for the court. The length of the protection order is also explicitly stated. You should contact the court if you have any doubt about it.
Generally, permanent restraining orders last two years from the date they were issued but can vary based on any extensions or court assignation. Incidents involving severe family violence, sex offenses, or more severe events can also lead to extended restraining order lengths.
Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order
Family violence protection order penalties can include the following:
- Separate misdemeanor: subject to a fine or possible jail time
- Felony: At least two years in prison
The Penalties for violation of any other restraining order include the following:
- Temporary Ex Parte Order:$500 fine; 6 months in Jail; or both
- Any different Protection Order: $4000 fine; 1 year in Jail; or both
The punishments for the violations of the protective orders are separate from any other offense outside of violating protective orders. However, if the offense that initiated the protection order is the one at play here, that can aggravate the punishment for the crime. You must attend all hearings so you can defend yourself.
How to File a Restraining Order
First, hire an attorney. Generally, restraining orders are free of charge when involving incidents of domestic violence. However, other less severe causes for a restraining order might require you to pay a fee. You always want to check the protection order costs inside your county. After filling out an application, you’ll take the request to the courthouse in the county you or the person receiving the restraining order resides. You will have a hearing which you’ll have to attend if you’re the applicant to keep the restraining order in effect. If the circumstances involve violence, the respondent or person with the restraining order will pay for court costs. They might also have to pay for your attorney costs if they are found guilty of the act stated inside the protection order.
Texas Help | File a Restraining Order – This page is the Texashelp.org protective order information site. You can use the document provided in the link to get started on filing a restraining order. Follow the link if you think you can use protection against someone.
Restraining Orders in Harris County – This webpage gives you an overview of the process for protection orders in Harris County. The page provides telephone numbers for the different departments’ numbers in the surrounding areas. You can look at the q and a to get a better understanding.
Attorney for Restraining Orders in Houston, TX
You need to seek a criminal defense attorney if you believe someone has filed a restraining order against you. The violation of a restraining order can lead to criminal proceedings. The Gonzalez Law Group has years of experience with restraining orders. Call us to get started with a free consultation. The Gonzalez Law Group works with clients in the counties of Harris County, Montgomery County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Liberty County, Waller County, and Chambers County.