Austin Residents Must Understand The Serious Nature Of Protective Orders

Gavel with handcuffsThis is the next post in my series on the handling of Austin criminal charges which involve allegations of domestic violence. My last article discussed Texas’ penalties for a domestic violence conviction. One who is convicted faces the risk of incarceration, fines, a permanent criminal record, and the loss of the ability to carry a firearm. These are just some of the reasons why it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In this article I will discuss another important issue – the need to understand the serious nature of protective orders. If you require assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.

Emergency protective orders are often automatically put in place by the Court when a defendant has been arrested for family violence. Since those orders are usually imposed without a hearing, they are temporary, unless the complainant seeks a permanent order, which requires notice and a hearing.  Both types of protective orders often make it illegal to contact or come near the alleged victim. These restrictions will include having to stay away from the victim’s home, their place of work, or other known areas that he or she may frequent. A defendant will be considered as having violated such an order if they contact, attempt to contact, or have others attempt to contact the victim either directly or indirectly. There are multiple types of consequences for such conduct. I will discuss each in turn.

One who violates a protective order can be charged with a Class “A” misdemeanor under Texas law. Such a charge carries a punishment of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. The charges will be elevated to a third-degree felony, however, if the accused has violated protective orders on at least two prior occasions or if they committed an assault while violating the order. A third-degree felony conviction can mean a sentence of two to ten years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000. As with any other felony conviction, a defendant will also permanently lose their right to carry a firearm.

Another consequence for violating a protective order is that the Court will likely revoke the defendant’s bail or bond. If one has been arrested for domestic violence, and has been  released on bail, then they can be sent to jail if they violate certain conditions while the case is still pending. Even if the bond does not have a “no-contact” provision, committing a new offense while out on bond will always cause a judge to consider revoking the bond and putting the defendant back in jail. If you are out on bond and you violate a protective order then you will likely be re-arrested on both the new charge and on the bond revocation for the original charge. Such an arrest can also harm any defense strategy being employed in the underlying domestic violence case.

It is crucial that you recognize the serious nature of protective orders. If such an order has been issued then the legal system has involved itself in your life; the order is not a “private matter” between yourself and the victim. It is crucial that you retain qualified counsel and that you take their advice. In addition, the hearing required for a permanent protective order can provide a valuable opportunity to cross-examine the accuser, allowing your lawyer to be better-prepared for trial in the criminal case. Even if you don’t plan to come into contact with the accuser in the future, you should consult with an attorney before agreeing to a protective order as the consequences can be long-lasting. I am an Austin criminal defense attorney who devotes his practice to protecting the rights of the accused. I have been licensed since 1995 and am certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization as a specialist in criminal law. Call today to speak with a lawyer.

My office also serves the areas of Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, and San Marcos, Texas.

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