This is the next post in a series of articles discussing defending against harassment or stalking charges in Laredo, Texas. My previous article discussed the legal definitions of these offenses and the penalties that may apply if one is convicted. Convictions carry significant consequences and may result in incarceration, fines, and permanent criminal records. In addition, those who are guilty of felony charges may face long-term restrictions on other liberties, such as possessing firearms or voting. For these reasons, it is critical to contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately if you have been accused of stalking or harassment. In this article, I will discuss how individuals should respond after becoming the subject of an emergency protective order. Contact my office today to speak with an attorney.
A person accused of stalking or harassment can become subject to an order of protection. A temporary order of protection, sometimes referred to as a TPO, prohibits a person from coming within a certain distance of the protected individual or contacting them in any way, either directly or indirectly through third parties. Such orders can be issued at the request of an alleged victim or after a person has been arrested on stalking or harassment charges. For the safety of the accuser, TPOs are often issued on an emergency basis, without a hearing. A Judge may issue such an order if they believe the person is in danger based on their accusations. If this occurs, the accused will be served with the protective order and must comply with its terms, even if they received no advance notice that the order had been requested. As mentioned previously, protective orders impose serious restrictions on the subject’s activities. They will be restricted from going near the individual’s home and work, calling or texting them, or otherwise bothering them in any way. If the accuser and the accused live in the same household, this means that the accused could be prevented from entering their own home or seeing their children while the order is in place.
Many people do not know how to respond when served with an emergency protection order. First and foremost, it is crucial to comply with the terms of the order, even if you believe the charges are unwarranted or false. It is not uncommon for someone served with an emergency order to react by immediately calling, emailing, texting, or otherwise attempting to see or speak to the accuser. This is a serious mistake. A violation of an order can result in Class A misdemeanor charges, in addition to the charges of stalking or harassment that the subject already faces. Secondly, it is imperative to defend oneself as soon as possible through the appropriate legal channels. This is particularly true if the allegations are false or exaggerated. In the case of an emergency protective order, the Judge will schedule a hearing to determine if the temporary order should be extended or terminated. Many residents fail to understand the importance of attending the hearing and miss their opportunity to defend themselves. The hearing is your chance to present evidence in your defense. Objective evidence, such as phone records, text messages, surveillance videos, etc., must be presented correctly to the Court and comply with legal rules. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help ensure that you are prepared for the hearing and that your defense is handled properly.
I understand that accusations of stalking and harassment and the issuance of a protective order can be intimidating and completely disruptive to one’s life. If you have been served with an emergency protective order, calling an experienced lawyer immediately is critical. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak to a lawyer. We serve clients in Laredo and elsewhere in South Texas.