Many people confuse the terms “protective order” and “restraining order,” assuming that they serve the same essential function. However, there are some critical differences between these two orders, and it’s crucial that you understand your rights and obligations if the court issues either order against you. While both protective orders and restraining orders impose restrictions on an individual’s behavior, the process for obtaining these orders and their penalties differ significantly. Here are some key differences between protective orders and restraining orders in the Pearland area.
Understanding Protective Orders
In cases of alleged family violence, the court will review the application for a protective order. Under Title 4, Section 85.001 of the Texas Family Code, the court will determine whether: “(1) family violence has occurred; and (2) family violence is likely to occur in the future.” If the court determines that these criteria were satisfied, the judge can issue a protective order against the perpetrator, lasting up to two years. Under this order of protection, the abuser must refrain from specific actions, such as contacting, stalking, or interacting with the victim(s).
Restraining Orders Apply to Civil Law Cases
Restraining orders apply to parties involved in a civil lawsuit, such as a divorce or property dispute. When the court issues a restraining order against you, you must abide by the terms specified in the order. For example, the family law court may issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against both divorcing spouses to prevent the parties from withdrawing funds from their shared bank accounts during the divorce process. One party may petition the civil court to issue a TRO against the other party, ordering them to stop harassing or threatening behavior. Sometimes, TROs automatically go into effect when a family law case is filed.
Distinctly Different Punishments for Violations
Perhaps the most important difference between a protective order and a restraining order is how violations are handled. While either party can report violations of TROs to the civil court, it’s up to the court to determine how to respond. The court has the authority to impose strict penalties—including possible jail time—but this rarely happens. In contrast, protective order violations can lead to substantial criminal penalties, including costly fines and jail time. Unlike restraining orders, protective orders can be reported directly to law enforcement and dealt with accordingly.
To learn more about what to do if an order of protection has been issued against you in the Pearland, Brazoria County, or surrounding area, call the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC today at (832) 230-0075 to arrange a free consultation with a skilled criminal defense attorney.