Simply being accused of family violence in Texas can have a big impact on your life, especially if you possess or intend to purchase a firearm. Despite the Second Amendment, there are circumstances in which a U.S. citizen is not allowed to bear arms. If a loved one has gone to court and obtained a Family Violence Protective Order against you, you may be prohibited from possessing or buying a firearm in Texas under both state and federal laws.
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Texas State Laws
Texas courts issue protective orders in situations where domestic violence has occurred or is likely to occur. Texas state law allows a court to prohibit a person who is subject to an active Family Violence Protective Order (including a Temporary Ex Parte Order, Final Protective Order, and Magistrate Orders for Emergency Protection) from possessing a firearm under TX Family Code Chapter 85.026:
“IT IS UNLAWFUL FOR ANY PERSON, OTHER THAN A PEACE OFFICER, AS DEFINED BY SECTION 1.07, PENAL CODE, ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN EMPLOYMENT AS A SWORN, FULL-TIME PAID EMPLOYEE OF A STATE AGENCY OR POLITICAL SUBDIVISION, WHO IS SUBJECT TO A PROTECTIVE ORDER TO POSSESS A FIREARM OR AMMUNITION.”
Violating this order by commission of an act prohibited by the order may be punishable by a fine of as much as $4,000 or by confinement in jail for as long as one year, or both.
Federal Laws Also Apply
In addition to Texas state law, federal laws also apply as well. Under Title 18 USC § 922(g)(8)(9), (“Gun Ban for Individuals Convicted of a Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence” also known as the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban or “the Lautenberg Amendment”) individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, or who are under a restraining (protection) order for domestic abuse are prohibited access to firearms (including the shipment, transport, possession, ownership, and use of guns or ammunition). It also makes it illegal to knowingly sell or give a firearm or ammunition to such persons.
The law allows for an individual’s right to bear arms to be restored “if the conviction has been expunged or set aside, or is an offense for which the person has been pardoned or has had civil rights restored (if the law of the applicable jurisdiction provides for the loss of civil rights under such an offense) unless the pardon, expungement, or restoration of civil rights expressly provides that the person may not ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms.”
Frequently Asked Questions About Family Violence
It’s crucial that you follow the restrictions of the protective order, including avoiding behaviors that could be deemed harassing or threatening. Under Texas law, harassment is defined as any action against someone with the intent to harass, torment, abuse, embarrass, alarm, or even annoy them.
An individual can be charged with felony continuous family violence in Texas if they have been accused of assaulting a close relative at least twice. There are a few important details though:
• An assault charge does not have to be against the same person twice.
• Sometimes, the previous charge does not expire.
• It is not necessary to have been convicted of the previous charge.
This will depend on the answer to several questions. First, what exactly is the alleged act? What happened? Was a weapon involved in the incident?
Second, the existence of injuries is considered a sign that there are deeper problems in the household, and usually make dropping the case impossible.
Last, the defendant’s criminal history is an important piece of information. If someone has a criminal history, and in particular if they have a history of family assault, it will quickly throw out the option of dropped charges, even if the victim requests it.
Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Defends Your Rights
No matter what the charges against you, felony or misdemeanor, you still have rights. That’s why it’s so important to have the representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Lisa Strauss is a former county prosecutor and Houston criminal defense attorney who is dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused. Utilizing her extensive legal knowledge and expertise, Lisa is able to formulate a winning defense strategy for her clients. Having an experienced Houston assault family violence lawyer represent you could mean the difference between acquittal or conviction, jail time, and expensive fines.
If you have had Family Violence Protective Order obtained against you, or been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Houston or Harris County, contact the law offices of Lisa Strauss to schedule a free consultation meeting to determine how we can help in your case.