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What are the penalties for violating a protective order?

In Texas, charges of family violence or claims of threatening, harassing behavior can result in a protective order that limits an individual’s actions.

Also called restraining orders, protective orders generally prohibit contact between specific parties. Those under a protective order should know that violating its terms can result in serious consequences.

What are examples of protective order violations?

Restraining orders typically include prohibitions against:

  • Communicating in a harassing or threatening way with the protected person or a family member
  • Visiting or going near the home or workplace of the protected person or a family member
  • Visiting or going near a daycare or school that a protected minor attends

While these are common restrictions, a judge may also include other specific terms, including prohibiting any contact with the protected individual or their family.

How does the law treat restraining order violations?

Violating a protective order can result in charges of contempt of court. Additionally, a person who disobeys the terms of the order may face large fines and up to a year in jail. If the individual commits an act of family violence, he or she could also face a separate misdemeanor or felony charge, with the potential for an even longer prison sentence.

Restraining orders are an important legal tool for protecting victims from abuse. However, too often alleged offenders find themselves caught up in emotionally charged family circumstances, especially when divorce or child custody issues are at stake. That can make it difficult to sort out the facts of the case, including whether an individual intended to violate an order. Those facing charges of disobeying a protective order should know that a strong defense may help them avoid a conviction that could have a lifetime of consequences.


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