Protective Order

A protective order is issued by a court with civil jurisdiction that orders an abusive person to refrain from committing family violence, threatening or harassing the victim, or going within a specified distance of their home or place of employment or another place such as a school or childcare facility.

Unlike a restraining order, which is enforceable only by civil contempt, a protective order is criminally enforceable and valid for up to two years. Violation of a protective order is a criminal offense and the Code of Criminal Procedure authorizes law enforcement officers to arrest violators without a warrant in some situations.

If you are accused of violating a protective order, you can be arrested immediately. Even if only a temporary or ex parte order has been entered, if you are accused of violating the special conditions of the order, you can be punished for contempt of court by a fine of as much as $500 or up to six months in jail. If you violate the “no contact” provisions in the order, excluding ex parte orders, you can be punished by a fine of as much as $4,000 or jail for up to one year or both.

Under Penal Code §25.07 and §25.07(g), the “Violation of Protective Order” can be enhanced to a felony depending on the circumstances.

Attorney for Protective Order Defense in Tarrant County, TX

If you were served with a protective order or are fighting a false allegation of domestic violence, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy. We represent clients accused of violating a protective order or a restraining order in Fort Worth and Tarrant County, TX.

We are familiar with the procedures used by the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Protective Order Unit. Call us to find out more about the consequences of violating an order for protection against domestic violence, sexual violence or stalking. We also represent clients charged with a misdemeanor or felony for aggravated family violence assault.

Call (817) 422-5350 today.


Requirements for a Violation of a Protective Order in Texas

A violation of a protective order is a crime. Types of protective order violations include:

  • violation of certain court orders or conditions of bond in a family violence, sexual assault or abuse or stalking case; 
  • violation of protective order or magistrate's order;
  • violation of protective order preventing offense caused by bias or prejudice; 
  • repeated violation of certain court orders or conditions of bond in family violence cases.

If the prosecutor charges a person with the violation of a protective order or a magistrate’s order, the prosecutor must prove that the accused knew of a protective order or magistrate's order and its terms.

To be guilty of the violation, it must be proven that the defendant knew about the protective order. The term “in violation of an order” shows the requirement of a culpable mental state. It must be shown that the order was issued at a proceeding that the defendant attended or at a hearing held after the defendant received service of the application for a protective order and notice of the hearing.

The purpose of these requirements is to make sure that the person to whom the protective order applies has knowledge of the order, or at the very least, had knowledge of the application for a protective order and that it would be reckless to proceed without knowing the terms of the order.

If the defendant is charged with violation of a protective order, the order allegedly violated must be specific enough to meet the normal requirements of specificity that applies to criminal allegations of culpable conduct. 


When is the Protective Order Issued? 

The family violence protective order language is found in Family Code Title 4, Ch. 85. Under §85.022, if the court finds that family violence occurred and is likely to occur in the future, the court can prohibit the respondent from committing family violence, communicating with or threatening the applicant or family member, going near her residence or workplace, possessing a firearm, or harming a pet.

If the court finds that family violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking has occurred and is likely to occur again, a court may issue a protective order. The domestic relationship for purposes of defining violence in the family includes family members related by blood or relatives by marriage, former spouses, or parents of the same child, foster parents and foster children, or any member or former member of a household who live together as a family as opposed to merely being roommates.

In a protective order, the judge can order the following prohibited acts:

  • committing further acts of family or domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking by harassing or threatening the victim, either directly or indirectly by communicating the threat through another person;
  • going to or near a school or day-care center of a child protected under the order attends (often called the "no contact" provision).

The court can also include special conditions in the protection order including:

  • prohibiting a transfer or disposal of property;
  • establishing custody or visitation of a child;
  • requiring the payment of child or spousal support for a period not to exceed one year;
  • requiring attendance at mandatory counseling; or
  • order one party to vacate the residence or other specified property.

If the person who is served with the protection order does not complete the special conditions in the order then the provisions are not criminally enforceable. Instead, if the respondent does not follow the special terms in the order, the person can be taken to civil court, be tried at a show cause hearing, found in contempt, fined and even jailed.

The petitioner can apply for a protective order through the district or county attorney in Tarrant County. In some cases, the alleged victim of violence will retain a private attorney or use an attorney through a legal aid service program to file the petition for a protection order. The courts have created different “Protective Order Kits” to make it easier for the petitioner. Those Protective Order Kits include:

  • the Protective Order Kit;
  • the DV Protective Order Kit; and
  • the Domestic Violence Kit.

After the application is submitted to the court, the court will set a hearing date within 14 days. The court can also issue a temporary or ex parte order if the court finds from the information contained in the application that there is a clear and present danger of family violence. The temporary and ex parte order is valid for up to 20 days. Final protective orders are effective for two (2) years unless another length of time is otherwise specified by the court.


The Restraining Order or Injunction in Texas

A restraining order is granted under the Texas Family Code. The temporary restraining order is called a TRO or an injunction. The TRO can be filed with a Petition for Divorce or Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship. It contains a list of prohibited conduct intended to preserve property and protect the parties from threats or harassing conduct, damage to property or acts of physical violence. Violations of the restraining order are not usually enforced in the criminal courts. 


A Magistrate's Order for Emergency Protection

This order can be issued at the time of a defendant's appearance before a magistrate after arrest for an offense involving family violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking. The alleged victim does not have to be present in court when the magistrate’s emergency protection order is issued.

The order for emergency protection can be issued on the magistrate's own motion or on the request of the attorney representing the State, a peace officer, the victim or the victim’s guardian. The Magistrate's Order for Emergency Protection will often:

  • prohibit the defendant after an arrest from committing any further acts of family violence;
  • communicating with a member of the family or household or the person named in the order;
  • making any threats or going near the place of employment, household, business school or day-care facility of a member of the household or of the person named. 

Additional Resources

District Attorney's Protective Order Unit - The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office has a Protective Order Unit that helps men and women claiming to be victims of domestic violence who want protection from their intimate partner or former intimate partner.

Protective Orders under Texas Law - Visit the website of the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, to learn more about protective orders to protect the victims of crimes of family violence. A protective order is a civil court order issued by the court to prevent continuing acts of intimate partner violence, family violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking. For purpose of the protective order, the term “family violence” is defined to include: (1) any act by one member of a family or household intended to physically harm another member; (2) a serious threat of physical harm; or (3) the abuse of a child. 

Myths About Protective Orders in Tarrant County, TX - Read an article written by an Assistant Criminal ­District Attorneys in ­Tarrant County explaining common misconceptions about the protective order used to fight the cycle of family violence. The article explains applications received by the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Protective Order Unit. Learn more about the difference between a protective order and a restraining order or injunction for protection issued in family law cases and the different penalties available after a violation. 


This article was last updated on Friday, April 14, 2017.