Note: If you or a loved one is the victim of domestic abuse, know that you are not alone. Call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for immediate help.
In Texas, as in other states, protective orders are intended to protect individuals from abusive partners or others who may try to cause harm. Texas protective orders laws allow for both temporary (20 days maximum) and general (up to two years) protective orders, also referred to as "restraining orders." Violating a protective order can result in a jail sentence and/or fine.
Refer to the table below to learn about Texas protective order laws, or find out more in-depth information on the subject in the discussion below.
|Code Section||Family 71.001 et seq.|
|Activity Addressed by Order||Enjoin contact; exclude from dwelling, employment, school; regarding minors: enjoin contact, temporary custody, support; counseling; reasonable court costs and attorney fees; suspension of firearm license|
|Duration of Order||Temporary: maximum 20 days, may be extended; General: maximum 2 yrs.|
|Penalty for a Violation of Order||Fine, maximum $4,000 and/or jail, maximum 1 year. If family violence occurs, can be prosecuted for a misdemeanor or felony, carry jail minimum 2 years. Temporary: maximum $500 fine or maximum 6 months jail, or both|
|Who May Apply for Order||Adult member of family; prosecuting attorney; department of protective and regulatory services|
|Can Fees Be Waived?||Yes; fees paid by respondent|
|Order Transmission to Law Enforcement||Copy to chief of police where protected resides and to department of public safety|
|Civil Liability for Violation of Order||Yes, contempt of court|
Types of Protective Orders
Protective orders come in many different forms, as each court order is written to address each specific situation. The following list covers a few of the most common types of protective orders.
This type of protective order is commonly called a "restraining order." This prevents the defendant from having any contact with the petitioner. Restraining orders are common when any contact between the defendant and petitioner risks harm to the petitioner.
Exclude from Private Places
Sometimes, there are reasons that make prohibiting all contact unreasonable. Even between abusive and abused partners, they may need to make contact in order to exchange children as part of a custody order. In this case, the abusive partner may be required to keep away from the petitioner's private places, like a home, school, or place of employment.
Orders Regarding Minors
Adults are not the only ones who can benefit from a protective order. A court may also issue a protective order to prevent an abusive parent from having contact with a child, to give temporary custody to another parent, or to pay child support.
Because each protective order situation is different, a court may want to order someone to seek counseling in addition to other requirements. For an abuser, the court may order that they seek anger management counseling in addition to enjoining contact with their victims. Drug and alcohol addiction counseling are common as well.
Suspension of Firearm License
Texas issues concealed carry permits and licenses to qualified individuals. If someone has one of these permits, and is accused or convicted of a crime against another person, the court may order the permit holder to surrender their firearm(s) and their carry permit.
Penalties for Violating a Protective Order
Violating a protective order can result in jail time and a fine. The fine cannot exceed $4,000, and the jail time cannot exceed one year for violating the order alone. If violating the order resulted in family violence, the defendant can be prosecuted with for a misdemeanor or felony with jail time of up to two years. This punishment is in addition to any other crimes committed.
Get a Legal Evaluation of Your Protective Order Issue
Protective orders are meant to protect people from the possibility of violence and harassment, typically in matters involving domestic violence or similar conflicts. If you are the subject of a protective order, you may have legal questions about your rights and restrictions under the order. Consider getting a free and confidential legal evaluation of your situation today.
Contact a qualified attorney.