We understand that family violence has many aspects. There can be physical and sexual violence of many kinds. We also understand that the physical violence is often accompanied by psychological harm. Abusers often exert financial control over a victim, and an abuser can interfere with relationship with family and friends. Family violence can have a devastating effect on children and present severe safety risks for extended family.
Texas law allows a court to issue an order called a “Protective Order” when family violence is present. The idea behind a protective order is to require an abusive partner or spouse to stay away from a person who has been a victim of family violence. Protective Orders can also protect family members and children. A violation of a protective order is a crime and allows the police to arrest a person who violates a protective order. This can be a more immediate remedy than having a private lawyer file a custody suit or obtain a restraining order in a divorce.
Issues of Family Violence - Safety
Under Texas law, family violence requires a specific type of relationship between the abuser and the victim as well as a specific type of conduct to have occurred between the abuser and victim. Regarding the relationship, the parties must have or had a family, dating, or household relationship as defined by the Texas Family Code. Further, the required type of conduct must include physical harm, sexual assault, stalking, or threats of imminent physical harm. Protective Orders are court orders to protect victims of family violence. A Protective Order are rules by which the abuser, also called the Respondent, must follow in order to have a safe relationship with you and your family or no relationship at all. Only a judge can issue a Protective Order. With your input, a judge decides the rules that the Respondent must follow.
In general, a Protective Order can order the following:
- Can not hurt you
- Can not verbally threaten to hurt you or a loved one
- Can not go near your home or work
- Can not go near your daycare or school of your children
- Can not follow you
- May be required to go to counseling
- May be required to pay child support
- May be required to follow a child visitation plan
- If the abuser/Respondent breaks these rules they can be arrested.
Consequences of Violating a Protective Order
If the Respondent (the person who has the protective order against them) violates the protective order, then they could face:
- criminal charges and/or
- be in Civil Contempt
Criminal Charges - Criminal charges may result in fines of up to $4000 and two years in jail, depending on whether the violation is a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Committing acts of violence against the Applicant/victim.
- Communicating with the Applicant in the prohibited manner as listed in the protective order.
- Going within 200 yards of the Applicant or other protected persons
- Going within 200 yards of the Applicant's residence or place of employment or the children's school or daycare.
- Possessing firearms and ammunition
Civil Contempt - Civil Contempt violations may result in fines of up to $500 and/or six months in jail for all other violations.
- Failure to attend Battering Intervention Program and/or drug and alcohol counseling.
- Failure to pay child support.
- Failure to pay court costs.
- Failure to return child as specified in Protective Order.
- Failure to stay 200 yards away from Applicant/children in public places.
Clearly, these issues are dangerous circumstances, which highlights the severity of family violence cases. If you or someone you know if a victim of family violence, they need help immediately. Contact out office in order to take the first steps to safety and security.
Defending Allegations of Family Violence
Family violence allegation can significantly impact your legal rights and freedom in a negative fashion; and are not to be taken lightly. Even in "he-said" / "she-said" circumstances, a Court grant make findings that family violence ahs occurred in the past and is likely to occur in the future or that there has been a history of family violence. This is not a set of circumstances that you want to handle on your own, and gamble that "it will all work out in the end." Contact our office immediately to properly address family violence allegations, so that they do no