Know the Laws: Texas
UPDATED October 16, 2012
A protective order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by someone you have a specific relationship with. The order can also place other restrictions on the abuser, such as ordering him/her to stay away from you or stop contacting you.
An abuser can violate a protective order by disobeying any of the restrictions in the order such as the restriction:
If the abuser possesses a firearm after being served with an ex parte or a final protective order, that, too, can be a violation of the order.*
If you believe that the abuser has violated the protective order, you can immediately call 911 and the abuser can be arrested.
Protective orders will have certain warnings written right on the order. Both temporary ex parte orders and permanent protective orders state that a violation of the order can be considered "contempt of court" with a punishment of up to $500, a jail sentence of up to 6 months, or both. The orders also state that if a person commits an "act" that is forbidden in the order, s/he can be punished by a fine of up to $4,000, a jail sentence up to 1 year, or both. If the "act" committed results in family violence, the abuser can be prosecuted separately for that crime. If s/he commits a felony, s/he can be sentenced to prison for at least two years.**
When the police arrive, it is usually a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case. Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made. If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it could help you have the order extended or modified in the future.
* Tex. Penal Code § 25.07(a)
** Tex. Fam. Code § 85.026
Federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have an order of protection, it is enforceable, or it can protect you, wherever you go in the United States, including U.S. territories and tribal lands.
Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state orders. You may have to register your order with the court clerk in your new county. You can find out about your new state's policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor in your new area.
You might also want to call the court where you originally received the order to tell them your new address so that they can contact you if necessary. However, before giving out an address that you don't want the abuser to have, be sure to ask the clerk if there is a way to keep it confidential and confirm that it will not be accessible to the abuser.
To read more information please see our Moving to Another State with a TX Protective Order section.
If you want to change the order to add a specific protection to it or to take something out of the order, you can file to modify the order. The abuser can also file to modify the order. The judge would hold a hearing to decide what changes to make.* You will have to go back to the court where you originally filed your application and tell the clerk you want to change your order. You will find links to online forms that you may need at our TX Download Court Forms page. Also, you can update any information listed on the order such as your address, telephone number, place of employment, or the child-care facility or school of a child protected by the order if any of this changes after you get the order.**
* Tex. Fam. Code § 87.001
** Tex. Fam. Code § 87.004(a)
If the abuser is in jail/prison on the date the protective order is set to expire, then the order will automatically extend and will expire on the first anniversary of the date the abuser is released.*
Filing to renew a current order or an expired order
If the abuser violates the order while the order is still valid, this violation could be a reason to renew the order. You can file for the renewed protective order within the last 30 days of the order (within 30 days before the order's expiration date). You will have to include with your application:
* Tex. Fam. Code § 85.025(c)
** Tex. Fam. Code § 82.0085
*** Tex. Fam. Code § 82.008