A protection order, otherwise known as a restraining order, is not a criminal conviction. Having a domestic violence restraining order filed against you doesn’t mean you’ve been found guilty of anything.
Because of this, there’s broad disagreement over whether it’s a violation of your Constitutional rights to have to give up your firearms based on a restraining order. The Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments in a Texas case involving this issue.
Broad Terms of a Protective Order
The restraining order involved in the Texas case had a number of restrictions. Among them was that the subject had his handgun license suspended. He also was prohibited from possessing a firearm at any point while the order was in effect, a period of two years.
A later search warrant revealed that he had not given up his guns. He was then indicted under federal law based on his possession of guns while under the terms of the protective order.
Consequences of Violating a Protective Order
If you violate a restraining order, you’re facing serious trouble. A violation can land you in jail for up to a year and subject you to large fines.
If the judge rules that your violation was done with the intent to commit stalking or violence, you could be denied bail, meaning you’ll be in jail until the criminal trial that decides your guilt or innocence. The terms of the restraining order are important because they can create new paths for an otherwise innocent person to be held criminally liable.
Punishment Before Due Process
Protective orders are not the result of a criminal trial. They’re the result of a civil suit. What you have to prove to get a protective order is not the same as what you have to prove to get a criminal conviction.
One of the major disagreements about suspending the right to bear arms based on a restraining order is that you’re depriving someone of their constitutional rights without due process. In effect, you’re punishing someone without first doing what’s necessary to find them guilty.
Restraining Orders Are Serious Business
Regardless of whether gun rights are part of protective orders in the future, they’ll remain a serious matter. Violating a restraining order even a single time carries harsh penalties.
If you already have a conviction on your record, the penalties rise dramatically. You need to speak to an experienced Texas defense attorney if you’re accused of violating a protective order. There are defenses available, but you need to act quickly to protect your rights.
Call Today to Discuss Your Protective Order Situation
At the Fort Worth offices of Lee & Wood, LP, our experienced criminal defense lawyers provide aggressive legal protection. If you’ve been accused of violating a Texas protective order, you should call us at 817-678-6771 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.