What can I do if the abuser violates the order?
An abuser can violate a protective order by disobeying any of the restrictions in the order. For example, s/he can violate the restriction:
- not to come near you or a place specified in the order;
- not to abuse you;
- to contact you directly or through a third party (however, contacting you through your attorney can be permissible);
- against possessing a firearm;
- not to harm, threaten, or interfere with the care, custody, or control of a pet or companion animal a person protected by the order; or
- not to remove, attempt to remove, or otherwise tamper with the normal functioning of a global positioning monitoring system (GPS).1
If you believe that the abuser has violated the protective order, you can immediately call 911 and the abuser can be arrested. Under Texas law, a law enforcement officer must arrest the abuser if the officer witnesses a protective order violation, and may arrest the abuser if the order is violated outside of the officer’s presence.2
Violation of a protective order can be a class A misdemeanor, a state jail felony, or a felony in the third degree depending on various factors.3 In addition, 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 six 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 one 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.4
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.
1 Tex. Penal Code § 25.07(a)
2 Tex. C.C.P. Art. 14.03(a)(3), (b)
3 Tex. Penal Code § 25.07(g)
4 Tex. Fam. Code § 85.026