The Texas Protective Order

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There’s a Sheriff’s Deputy at the front desk.

You’re at work and your receptionist informs you that there’s a Sheriff’s Deputy here to see you. He tells you that “you’ve been served” and hands you a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order.

Your heart sinks as you see your spouse or significant others’ name and realize that this has to do with the argument that you two recently had.

What does this mean? Can you call him/her? Can you go home? What are the consequences if you send a text message just to say that you’re sorry? What does this mean for your kids? What does this mean for your gun rights? Is this like TV?

 

Yeah, this is kind of like TV.

If you’ll recall from our Temporary Restraining Order blog/video, a Protective Order is usually what they call a Restraining Order on TV or in other states besides Texas.

You know what I’m talking about. Someone’s Ex is outside so they call 911 and tell the operator that their Ex is violating the restraining order. In the next scene, the police come flying in with their lights and sirens, which leads to the Ex being taken away in handcuffs.

Well, THAT is the type of thing that can happen in real life when someone violates a protective order, so it is quite important for you to pay attention to the exact wording of the order you were just served with.

 

What is a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order?

First you need to understand a little latin. “Ex Parte” simply means that the order was issued without notice or evidence from the opposing party. So, if you’ve been served a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order, then this means the other side provided the Court with evidence (likely an affidavit) that there was clear and present danger of family violence.

—See Requirements for Temporary Ex Parte Order – Tex. Fam. Code § 83.001(a)

If the other side provided the Court with evidence that there is a clear and present danger of family violence, then that permits the Court to enter other Orders without any further notice to you.

—See Requirements for Temporary Ex Parte Order – Tex. Fam. Code § 83.001(b)

You MUST read the exact language of the order because it would be impossible for us to list all of the possible prohibitions that the Court could enter. However, we can go over some of the most common provisions that are included.

 

What CAN’T you do?

For good cause shown, a protective order can prohibit you from communicating directly with anyone listed as a “protected person” in the order, except through attorneys. If the Court prohibits direct contact, then NO you cannot send the protected person a text message saying that you’re sorry, and NO you cannot call them to ask them to drop the case. (this happens more often than you’d think)

It also typically prohibits you from going within a certain distance of the protected person, as well as their place of business, school, or residence.

Usually, it will also prohibit following the protected person, and prohibits specifically directing conduct toward a protected person (or a member of their family or household) that is meant to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass them.

—See Requirements of Order Applying to Person Who Committed Family Violence – Tex. Fam. Code § 85.022(b)

 

Can you go home?

If you’re currently living with someone listed as a “protected person,” then they most likely filed a “Motion to Exclude from Residence,” to request the Court to exclude you from the residence.

—See Exclusion of Party From Residence – Tex. Fam. Code § 83.006

When they filed the Motion to Exclude (likely within the request for a protective order), they must have included an affidavit that provided a detailed description of the facts and circumstances requiring your exclusion from the residence. Additionally, they would have had to appear before the Judge for an ex parte hearing to justify the need for the order to vacate the residence.

—See Exclusion of Party From Residence – Tex. Fam. Code § 83.006(a)

So, if you’re reading the Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order that you were just served with, and it includes a provision that you are excluded from your residence, then do NOT go home. Call your family law attorney for guidance before you do anything. In the meantime, grab a hotel, stay with other family, or crash with a friend.

 

What about your gun rights?

If you in possession of a firearm, then you should immediately relocate it to get it out of your possession while the Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order is in effect. The protective order specifically prohibits you from being in possession of a firearm unless you’re a peace officer and actively engaged in employment as an officer.

Additionally, if you have a license to carry a handgun, then the protective order immediately suspends that license.

—See Requirements of Order Applying to Person Who Committed Family Violence – Tex. Fam. Code § 85.022(b)(6)

 

How long does this order last?

Every Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order is required to provide an expiration date. The expiration date can’t be longer than 20 days from the date of issuance.

There is a catch though. The applicant, or the Court on its own, can extend the order for an additional 20-day period. Unfortunately, there is no limit on how many times it can be extended.

—See Duration of Order; Extension – Tex. Fam. Code § 83.002

It typically expires at the time of the hearing so you can have an opportunity to defend yourself and prevent the temporary order from becoming a final order.

 

What are the consequences of violating the order?

Short answer is: they are BAD! Violation of a protective order, even a temporary ex parte protective order, can be punished by up to one year in jail, as well as a $4,000.00 fine.

—See Warning On Protective Order – Tex. Fam. Code § 85.026

Additionally, violation of a protective order can be used to obtain an additional protective order and/or extension of a protective order.

 

Conclusion

A protective order is serious, and you should take it seriously. If you were just served with an Ex Parte Protective Order, you should immediately contact a Family Law Attorney to defend you. If you ignore it, it will not go away and your life will certainly be affected.

 

 –Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,

 Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Family Law Division

1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309

Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479

[email protected]