A protective order is a legal document that prevents a person from having any sort of contact with another. Also called a restraining order, it may be issued after various types of allegations, including stalking, sexual assault, and trafficking.
How and Why Protective Orders Are Issued
Per Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 7A, a protective order may be requested by the person alleging the crime, their parent or guardian (if the accuser is underage), or their attorney.
In most cases, a hearing will be held to determine the validity of the accusation and the need for such an order. However, if a judge decides that the accused presents “a clear and present danger” to the accuser, they may issue the order immediately, without a hearing. The Texas Judicial Branch keeps a registry of these orders and allows what they call “limited public access” to them.
Being the subject of a protective order is not the same as being convicted of a crime, but such orders are not issued unless a judge feels that there is a good reason for it. As such, you do not want to delay: start thinking about how you will defend yourself right away.
The Penalties Associated with a Family Violence Conviction
In Texas, domestic violence is more often referred to as “family violence” or “dating violence,” depending on the relationship between the people involved. If you are convicted of family violence, you could face penalties such as fines, jail time, a permanent stain on your criminal record, and a tarnished reputation. We will discuss these penalties and their implications one at a time.
If you are convicted, the court may fine you thousands of dollars. In addition, you may be responsible for various court fees associated with the adjudication of your case. These costs can cause you financial distress; you may even have to borrow money to pay what you owe.
Some family violence charges involve maximum prison sentences of years or decades. This punishment could end life as you know it, costing you your career, your personal relationships, and more. Further, the experience of sitting in prison for an extended period of time can be psychologically damaging.
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Even after you have served your time, your conviction will stay on your record. If potential future employers or landlords decide they want to know more about you, they can easily find out you were convicted of family violence. In addition, a criminal record may impede your right to vote, among other things.
Again, your criminal record is available for others to look at, which can affect how other people interact (or choose not to interact) with you. Friends, coworkers, and family members will all think about you differently and may even decide to cut ties.
An Attorney Can Help Build Your Defense
It is perfectly natural to feel scared, angry, and overwhelmed when facing any type of charge. You do not have to go through this difficult time alone. You have the right to whatever legal representation you want. Take advantage of this right and hire a defense attorney who will:
- Review your options: different cases require different approaches. A lawyer will help you decide which approach is best for you.
- Negotiate hard: in some cases, your lawyer may be able to convince a judge to reduce or even dismiss the charges against you.
- Conduct an independent investigation: evidence of your innocence and/or police error may serve as a basis for your lawyer’s negotiations.
- Represent you in court: an attorney can defend you in front of a judge and jury by questioning witnesses, submitting evidence, and more.
- Address your concerns: instead of worrying about legal concepts you do not understand, ask your lawyer to explain them to you. That way, you can allay your fears and make smarter legal decisions.
If you are still undecided about hiring legal representation, consider at least calling a law firm and getting some information. It is always best to have as much information as possible before making such an important decision. Also, many firms offer free consultations, so it will cost you nothing to hear what they have to say.
Get a Free Case Assessment from Our Firm
Now that you know what a protective order is, you may have other questions about your case, such as what your rights are and whether or not you should hire an attorney to represent you. Call the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg at (214) 696-9253 at any time to receive a free consultation.
We represent clients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and surrounding areas. Our lead attorney, Randall B. Isenberg, has been working in the legal system for over 30 years as a former prosecutor and state district judge.