“Protective order” and “restraining order” are often used interchangeably, however, they are two different things in the state of Texas.
Protective orders, or orders of protection, are court-ordered contact restrictions meant to protect victims of abuse, and often go hand in hand with domestic violence charges. Violators of protective orders may face serious criminal charges and penalties.
Restraining orders are technically civil, and are issued during court cases or lawsuits. For example, during divorce proceedings a restraining order may be put in place to restrict one spouse from accessing certain bank accounts or property.
If a domestic violence-related order of protection has been filed against you, here’s what you need to know to defend yourself.
A protective order is a court order issued by a state court that places certain conditions on the subject of the order. It’s most commonly filed in cases of domestic violence, domestic abuse, stalking, harassment, or neighborly disputes that get out of hand.
These orders are usually issued to protect a person from immediate physical harm. One of the most commonly issued types of protective orders is a “no-contact” order, which prohibits you from making physical contact or verbal communication with the named party.
If you are the subject of a protective order (that is, an order of protection is filed against you) you first need to understand that protective orders are serious business. Judges do not grant protective orders lightly.
However, you do have rights and you do have options to fight the order.
First of all, you need to contact an attorney immediately. They will be able to help advise you on how to fight the order.
In the meantime, gather evidence relating to any incidents the order refers to, including:
You should also make a list of any potential witnesses that may be able to provide information about the incident, the petitioner, or the accusations against you, and share the information with your lawyer so they can build your case.
Protective orders are granted to prevent harm. Or, put another way, they’re granted to prevent you from committing harm against someone’s person or property. A judge will only grant such an order if they feel that there is a real risk of harm.
Whatever you do, you should not take any actions that can serve as proof that the judge’s concerns are valid.
The most important thing to do is simple: obey the order, even if you plan to fight it.
If the order says you cannot contact the named party, do not contact them. If the order says you cannot access certain jointly-owned property or assets, like bank accounts, do not access that property.
Second, do not destroy evidence, no matter how incriminating you think it is. At best, this will cast you in a suspicious light. At worst, it could lead to criminal charges.
In most cases, the petitioner applies directly to a judge to request a restraining order. The petitioner must convince the judge that the protective order is necessary to prevent imminent or continuing harm.
If the judge finds that the evidence supports a claim of imminent harm, a judge may issue a temporary protective order immediately, without first providing notice to the defendant.
Once the defendant (you) receives notice, a judge will hold a hearing to determine whether to make the order final. The plaintiff must provide evidence that a permanent protective order is necessary. The hearing is your chance to contest the order and prevent it from being put on your record.
If you’re defending yourself against a restraining order, you need a great attorney on your side.
We know how to help you navigate protective orders, no matter how messy the situation may be. If you need to speak with an attorney about your options Scott M. Brown & Associates is here to help!
Call our Pearland location at 281-485-3620 or our Angleton location at 979-258-6813 today!
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