Orders of Protection in Houston
A protective order in Texas requires an individual to cease and desist from domestic violence and child abuse and other destructive behavior in the home. In certain circumstances, a protective order can bar the person from being in contact with a person, by ordering him to stay away from the protected person’s home, school or work. A protective order is a civil order, and it is filed and litigated in a civil court. Violation of the order can result in contempt of court. Because a protective order is sometimes handled by the District Attorney in Harris, Fort Bend and Galveston Counties, it is often confused with a Magistrates Order of Emergency Protection. However, the two are distinct with the latter being prosecuted and handled in criminal court after a criminal charge has been filed. A protective order, by contrast, can issue irrespective of whether criminal charges have been filed.
CONTEMPT OF COURT IS THE REMEDY FOR VIOLATION OF A PROTECTIVE ORDER
The main enforcement mechanism for a protective order is contempt of court. Although contempt can sometimes result in a jail sentence, no crime need be committed. The crux of enforcement is that the ordered individual has failed to follow the court’s orders. As such, if a protected person wants to enforce the order, a filing for contempt must be made and brought to the court’s attention. A hearing will be held, and if the court finds by a preponderance of evidence that the individual under the order has violated one of the provisions, the court can order jail, a fine or both.
THE CRIMINAL ACT OF VIOLATION OF PROTECTIVE ORDER
The violation of a protective order can result in the immediate arrest of the offender. In circumstances where the protective order requires the offender to stay away from the protected person, a violation could result in the District Attorney filing a charge against the offender for Violation of a Protective Order. This is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4000 fine. The accused must then answer for the charge in criminal court as well as possibly defending himself in civil court for contempt.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Orders of protection are available for members of a family unit. It is not necessary that the parties be married, the only guideline is that they must have lived together now or in the past. An order may be issued to protect a spouse or child in the family from physical abuse, emotional abuse or sexual abuse.
KINDS OF ABUSE
Texas law allows for an Application for Protective Order is situations involving physical spousal abuse or child abuse. Any actual or threat of physical harm, bodily injury, assault or sexual assault will support the issuance of a Protective Order. Emotional abuse will not support issuance. Sexual abuse may include forcing degrading sex, holding a partner down during unwanted sex and insisting on sex when the partner does not want it.
PROTECTING YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN
At Chernoff Law, we offer help to families who need protective orders in the Houston area. We are experienced in providing effective help to families suffering from abuse, and have extensive experience at obtaining orders of protection and enforcing them.
Do not let the abuse continue. It is your duty to yourself and your family to act. Contact an experienced attorney at the firm for a free phone consultation.