Restraining And Protection Orders
An Overview of Restraining Orders and Protective Orders
Restraining & protective orders are terms often used interchangeably, but in Texas, there is a difference between the two. Let’s look at the similarities and differences between restraining orders and protective orders.
The Similarities Between The Orders
Both restraining orders and protective orders are court orders signed off by a judge, though the reasons for granting them are different. Both are court orders enforced by the courts, though the severity varies. For example, violating a protective order can often result in immediate arrest. Violating a restraining order can get you reported to the court. Depending on the issue, you could be fined or sent to prison, but the latter is rare.
Protective orders are generally given to a victim when the abuser is arrested for domestic violence. Emergency protection orders or EPO may be given by the police; these are in effect for several days. You can then request a longer-term protection order from the courts.
A protective order or order of protection orders someone to stop assaulting, stalking, and harassing the person. In general, they prohibit the named abuser from contacting the person in any way. This includes text messages, emails, phone calls, and any other media as well as prohibiting them from meeting the person in public. Protective orders can last for up to two years. In rare cases, they can be for life. In most cases, you have to renew the order if you continue to feel threatened. The court requires evidence for the restrictions the court will place on the other person; this is done to ensure due process and protect the accused’s civil rights. The order can be written to include the victim’s family or property. The “stay away” distance varies based on the severity of the situation and the judge’s opinion. These orders generally require the abuser to move out of the home, but it can explicitly mandate that, as well.
Note that protection orders do not always prevent contact. A protection order could permit “peaceful contact” for limited purposes. A divorced father may be allowed to contact the abused ex-wife to arrange visitation and care of a child but not for any other reason. But the same order could prohibit him from contacting the ex-wife’s current boyfriend in any way.
Protection orders could manage that the batterer attends counseling or anger management.
Restraining orders are commonly issued during a divorce. They more frequently forbid someone from coming within a set distance of someone’s home, work, or school. However, restraining orders can include many more actions not covered by a protective order. For example, a restraining order may say that someone isn’t allowed to pull money out of a joint bank account. Restraining orders can also be used to restrict both parties in the case, something a protective order would never do. For example, it could prohibit both people from selling jointly held assets until after the divorce is finalized. Violation of the divorce-related restraining order is generally a contempt of court charge. In rare cases, it becomes a misdemeanor or felony, though it is a crime if violence or property damage is involved.
A restraining order is very different from a domestic violence restraining order. If you are dealing with a domestic violence case, consult with an attorney because you’ll probably want a protection order in addition to the restraining order.