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Texas Protective Orders Laws

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 71.01, et seq. Repealed; now Family 71.001 et seq.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.

Enjoin Contact

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.

Counseling

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.

If you would like to know more about protective orders, and how to obtain one, there are many attorneys throughout Texas with domestic violence experience who may be able to help. You may also wish to speak with a criminal defense lawyer.

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