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Protective Orders in Family Violence Cases

If an allegation meets the description of family violence found in Chapter 71 of the Texas Family Code, the complainant may seek a protective order against the accused. The protective order will significant limit the freedom of the person accused for up to two years.

Ignoring a temporary order will ensure it becomes permanent. For a person to have a permanent order entered against him or her, there must be a hearing where the person may be represented by an attorney. Once the order is in place, violating it can have serious consequences.

San Antonio Protective Order Lawyer

At Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr, the San Antonio-based domestic violence defense lawyers have more than 40 years of handling complex criminal matters. They are nationally recognized for their work in the criminal justice field, and they are dedicated to helping ordinary people. They can represent the accused in protective order hearings and in any related criminal proceedings.

If you have been served with an order, time is short. It is important you take the first step in protecting your freedom as soon as possible. Contact us or call us at 210-226-1463 for a consultation. We can also represent you if you’ve been accused of violating a protective order.


Overview of Protective Orders


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What Happens When a Protective Order is Sought?

When a person makes an accusation that meets the definition of family violence, defined as a violent act or threat of violence against a person related by consanguinity or affinity, the person may seek a protective order.

The complainant speaks to an “advocate” at the Bexar County District Attorney’s office, who will interview him or her about the allegations and determine whether to send a letter or seek a protective order.

If the District Attorney’s office decides to seek a protective order, the Sheriff’s Office will serve paperwork to the accused. The paperwork will include the complainant’s sworn statement and application and a temporary ex parte order ordering the accused to stay away from the complainant’s home or job. The temporary order must be obeyed.

A hearing is set for within two weeks. If the accused ignores the hearing, the temporary order becomes permanent. At the hearing, the accused may be represented by an attorney, who may make the case for why a protective order is not appropriate.


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What Does a Person Asking for a Restraining Order Have to Prove?

Under Texas Family Code sec. 85.001, a court will issue a protective order if it finds that family violence occurred and that it is likely to occur again in the future. Family violence could be violence between family members related by blood or marriage.

The decision will be at the discretion of the court. This is a much lower standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard prosecutors must meet to secure a criminal conviction against a person.


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What is the Effect of a Protective Order?

If a protective order is issued, the court will set terms “necessary and appropriate” to prevent future acts of violence, according to Texas Family Code sec. 85.022.  The order may:

  • Prohibit the accused from contacting the complainant
  • Prohibit the accused from going to or near the complainant’s home, place of work or school
  • Require the accused to move out of his or her own home
  • Require the accused to pay for housing for the complainant and any children
  • Set child custody arrangements
  • Divide community property
  • Prohibit the accused from  possessing a firearm
  • Set any other terms that the court believes necessary

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What Happens if I’m Accused of Violating an Order?

The violation of a protective order is a separate crime in itself under Texas Penal Code sec. 25.07. The intent of the alleged violation does not matter. For instance, it makes no difference if the accused contacted the complainant in an attempt to reconcile. It also does not matter if the complainant invited the accused to violate the order.

A first offense is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both. Subsequent offenses are third-degree felonies, which are punishable by between two to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.


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Finding the Best San Antonio Attorney for an Alleged Violation of a Protective Order

If you have been accused of family violence or have received a temporary protection order in San Antonio or elsewhere in Bexar County, it is critical you act today. Secure representation to avoid the serious consequences that come with a permanent order. Likewise, if you have been accused of violating a protective order, seek legal counsel today. Call an experienced lawyer at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr.