Getting served with a Bexar County Protective Order is scary. Bexar County Protective Orders are very serious matters and addressing them properly will allow you to avoid potentially life-changing consequences. Usually, being served with a Protective Order means that you have to stay away from someone with whom you are in a relationship. Sometimes, kids are involved and sometimes you are no longer allowed to reside at your home. What are your next steps? How should you respond? This guide will explain what to do when you are served with a Bexar County Protective Order.
How Do You Know If You’ve Been Served?
Early in the morning, there’s a knock at the door. Your blood runs cold as you notice a man in a uniform standing outside your door with a stack of papers in his hands. You open the door, the officer says your name, and hands you the paperwork. You’ve been served. Going through the paperwork you notice that includes a court date an order to stay away from your significant other. Maybe, it tells you that you can’t go back home or that you have to leave the home where you are within a certain amount of time. So what should you do? First, let’s talk about what not to do.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Sometimes, people who apply for protective orders change their minds and no longer want to pursue the protective order. Sometimes, you are still in a relationship with the person so you believe that the protective order is some kind of misunderstanding. The temptation is to immediately call the subject of the protective order. Most people are surprised that they are being served with a protective order. They believe it is some kind of misunderstanding and if they reach out to their loved one or to their ex the ex will tell them it was a mistake and that they can still have contact. This is a terrible idea. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES CALL OR CONTACT THE SUBJECT OF THE PROTECTIVE ORDER. DO NOT USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO CONTACT OR ADDRESS THE SUBJECT OF THE PROTECTIVE ORDER DO NOT DO THIS EVEN IF YOU ARE NOW ON GOOD TERMS WITH THE SUBJECT OF THE PROTECTIVE ORDER Why? Violating the terms of a protective order is an arrestable offense. It is arrestable even if the person contacts you first and you respond. The State can charge you with a Class A misdemeanor for violating the terms of a protective order. Once those documents are in your possession you cannot contact that person anymore and not expect to be criminal charges to follow. If that person contacts you, you cannot respond.
A protective order means that a family member or significant other of yours has applied for a protective order. They have sworn out an affidavit and convinced an Assistant District Attorney who has convinced a District Court Judge that there exists a clear and present danger of family violence between yourself and the subject of the order. This is serious. You need to take it seriously because what you do next may have consequences for the rest of your life. Protective Orders are governed by Chapter 85 of the Family Code. If you are the victim of domestic violence you can find out how to apply for a protective order here.
YOUR NEXT STEPS
- Hire a Lawyer
After you’ve been served with a Bexar County Protective Order, or a Protective Order in San Antonio, Texas, you need to hire a lawyer. Sometimes, a protective order means that you are being investigated for an assault or for an act of domestic violence. Working with your attorney you can figure out a strategy to have the protective order dismissed or modified so that you can live your life in the least restricted manner possible. The lawyer will also be able to read through the protective order with you and advise you exactly what you can or cannot do.
- Go To the Hearing
If you hire a lawyer your lawyer can attend the hearing for you. If you do not go to the hearing the State can request that a default judgment be entered against you. This makes the temporary protective order permanent for however long they have requested in the temporary protective order. Many times, in Bexar County this also means that you will (if the subject of the protective order is a family member or romantic partner) have an affirmative finding of family violence made against you. If this happens you won’t be able to own or possess a firearm. Usually, the terms of the temporary protective order also prohibit you from owning a firearm, but a final protective order with an affirmative finding of family violence could make that prohibition permanent.
- Ask for a Continuance
If you have not hired an attorney before your court date you should ask for a continuance of the court date when you talk to the prosecutor. Talking to the prosecutor is tricky (that’s why you should hire a lawyer) everything you tell the prosecutor can be used against you. You should not, under any circumstances, discuss the protective order with the prosecutor. You should, however, tell the prosecutor that you need more time. The prosecutor will likely agree and will ask that you extend the Temporary Protective Order so that it remains in effect until your next court date.
Can the Protective Order be Dismissed?
If you have been served with a protective order it is possible to get the protective order dismissed. As discussed above, this does not happen automatically or simply because the subject of the protective order has asked the State to dismiss it. However, if you contest the protective order the State has to prove that there is a clear and present danger of family violence.
Protective Orders are tricky and complicated Ignoring them can cause real and permanent damage to your life. You need to take them seriously and invest in representation so that you can avoid serious permanent consequences that come with having a final protective order entered against you. The Locke Law Group can help you with Bexar County Protective Orders give us a call, we can help.