By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Domestic assault charges are bad enough but those charges come with the ability to often defend the case over things such as exaggerated accusations, self-defense or consent. Violation of a Protective Order, by contrast, is not only more cut and dry factually but it also threatens some of the leniency we might be seeking.
VPO charges typically only hinge on whether the accused made contact with the complaining witness which can simply be proven-up by phone or text records. Or, if the accused came to the house and wasn’t supposed to be within 200 yards then the case is as simple for the prosecution as calling the complaining witness to testify about it or a police officer if one was called to the scene.
It is often the case where, ironically, the underlying assault is easier to deal with than the Violation of a Protective Order charge.
One key component of VPO arrests is the prosecution does have to prove Defendant had notice of the order. The order is typically done by a magistrate judge while the person is in custody for the assault. The order is often placed in the person’s property as they are leaving the jail for the assault arrest.
I’ve unfortunately seen many VPO charges based on the accused being released from jail and then calling the complaining witness from the hallway in the jail as they are leaving.
Penalties for Violating a Protective Order
VPO is generally a class a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail and a fine not to exceed $4k (the same as the most common arrest for domestic violence – assault causing bodily injury).
Multiple violations of a protective order obviously up the ante and make it a felony. Tex.Pen.C. 25.072 make repeated protective order violations a 3rd degree felony (between 2 and 10 years TDC). This is if a protective order has been violated two or more times.
The “Protected Person” Cannot Invalidate or Give Permission to Violate
The legislature requires a specific admonishment be in all protective orders. They anticipated almost all common scenarios and cut them off as defenses for those accused. Specifically that no person can give permission to violate the protective order.
A more confounding issue is what happens when the protected person is the one who continually attempts and solicitations the violation of the protective order. Does it make that person a co-conspirator? A party to the offense? The issue can be really confounding.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is recognized as a Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.