If you’ve been charged with domestic violence in Houston, chances are a judge has issued a restraining order, also known as a protective order, in your case preventing you from having contact with the alleged victim or their family. Protective orders are meant to prevent or reduce the likelihood of future harm to a victim in a domestic violence case.
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Depending on the details in your case, a protective order may prevent you from:
- Communicating directly or indirectly with the person protected by the order in a threatening or harassing manner;
- Going near their residence, work place, school, or child-care facility;
- Engaging in conduct that is reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass;
- Harm, threaten, or interfere with the care, custody, or control of a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal that is possessed by the person protected by the order (or by a member of the family or household of a person protected by the order);
- Possessing a firearm (unless the defendant works full time as a licensed peace officer) or carrying a concealed handgun.
What Is Considered Threatening or Harassing Behavior in Texas?
It’s important to obey the restrictions of the protective order, no matter how outrageous or unfair they may seem. Especially avoid saying or doing anything that could be considered harassing or threatening to the person who the restraining order is meant to protect.
Texas law defines harassment as taking action against another person with the intent to:
In Texas, a threat is considered to be actions or speech meant to make another person:
- Fear they will suffer bodily harm
- Fear for their lives, or
- Fear their property is in danger of harm
What Happens If You Harass or Threaten the Person Protected Under a Restraining Order?
A protective order can be in effect between 90 days and two years. Protective order violations in Texas can come with some serious consequences, including Contempt of Court charges. While harassment is normally considered to be a Class B misdemeanor, you’ll be facing Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine up to $4,000 if you’re convicted of harassing the person protected under the restraining order.
You can also be arrested for threats or harassment based simply on a witness statement made by the person the restraining order is meant to protect. The police don’t need any evidence. You can be held in jail and even denied the opportunity to post bond/bail.
Answers to Your Questions About Criminal Defense
Does an Arrest Stay on Your Record for Life?
An arrest can cause headaches in your personal and professional lives, and unlike your credit report, which lasts from seven to ten years, a criminal record stays with you forever. However, you may be able to clear your name in certain circumstances. There are two avenues you may be able to take: expungement and orders of non-disclosure. When you have your record expunged, the arrest is gone forever; it is as if it never happened.
While Orders of Non-Disclosure are not completely removed from your record, they do seal them from public view.
If you don’t have an attorney with experience with either of these processes, both can be difficult.
What Will Happen at My First Meeting With a Criminal Defense Attorney
To begin with, be prepared to answer many questions about yourself, as well as the case. In addition to the completed questionnaire, you will need a list of documents, including but not limited to:
• Documents related to your arrest
• A copy of court documents showing the exact charges and next court dates.
• Bail documents
• A list of potential witnesses and their contact information.
• If you are able to gather evidence such as videos, phone messages, photos, or documents, they can be invaluable.
Don’t forget to prepare your own questions. It’s important that you choose an attorney who is right for you.
Is it Legal to Videotape an Encounter With Law Enforcement?
Videotaping an encounter with law enforcement officials is not only legal, but it is also wise. Video can serve as powerful evidence in your favor.
It is also against the law for police officers to seize your phone, demand to see the footage on it, or delete anything on it.
Protective Order Violations in Texas — Protect Your Rights
If you’ve been charged with domestic violence in Houston or Harris County, had a protective order placed against you or have been arrested for violating the terms of a protective order, you need to protect your rights.
Houston family violence attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss has helped many clients who have found themselves in your place. In many cases, Lisa’s vast legal knowledge, skills, and expertise have resulted in reduced or dropped charges against her clients. Don’t wait — contact the law offices of Lisa Shapiro Strauss today to discuss your case.