A court order outlines what a person may and may not do and is a legally binding document. For instance, a person is not allowed to be in the same vicinity as the person they are suspected of stalking under a stalking order.
When a person does or doesn’t do something that is specified in a court order, they are in violation of the order and are guilty of violating it. It is illegal in Texas to disobey specific court orders or requirements in cases involving sexual assault, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, human trafficking, or stalking.
Are a Court Order and a Subpoena the Same Thing?
A subpoena is a type of court order, but an attorney can issue it. A subpoena commands a particular individual to appear in a certain location at a specific time in order to provide testimony during an investigation or legal procedure. Before a lawsuit is ever filed, attorneys general and district attorneys have the authority to subpoena witnesses for an inquiry.
When they are involved in a case related to the subpoena, the following individuals have the authority to issue subpoenas:
- A judge presiding over a trial or other legal action; the court’s clerk in a case that is still pending;
- An individual representing one of the parties in court;
- A public defender, such as an attorney general or district attorney.
A subpoena duces tecum commands the subject to appear and to bring any documents or other tangible proof with them.
What Various Kinds of Court Orders Are There in Family Law?
Orders of many different kinds may be relevant in a divorce or family law lawsuit. For explanation, these can be classified into two major categories.
The first category focuses on how long the order will be in force. Orders might be either permanent or temporary and short-term.
The second category focuses on whether the court order delegates tasks to those mentioned in the order or makes an effort to regulate a family member’s whereabouts.
Temporary orders issued before court hearings can be scheduled to address urgent concerns are some instances of court orders. A judge might, for instance, grant temporary custody of a child in an order that is only intended to last until the conclusion of a custody hearing and the issuance of a permanent custody order by the judge.
A judge may order one parent to temporarily pay child support in connection with granting temporary custody while the court hears and decides the support case. The judge would then issue permanent decisions regarding child custody and child support when the custody and child support case was resolved in court.
How Do Temporary and Permanent Orders Differ?
Once more, temporary orders are only intended to be in force for a brief period of time. The rationale behind a temporary order is that it is only in effect while a full hearing or trial on the matter is pending. The Temporary Restraining Injunction, or TRO, is one type of order that frequently appears in family court proceedings.
One significant TRO in a divorce case is typically intended to prevent spouses from disposing of or selling marital property while the marriage is still intact, but it can also place restrictions on other activities, such as travel.
A judge could be asked to impose an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) or a Child Protection Order (CPO) to help prevent any domestic violence issues and protect family members if one party in a divorce case is concerned for their safety or fears that the other party would flee. These temporary directives have a set expiration date but may be extended if the situation calls for them.
Longer-lasting orders are typically granted after court procedures are concluded and documented in writing. These orders are not intended to be granted in an emergency and must be supported by evidence that is presented during a court hearing.
Divorce judgments, permanent child support orders, and permanent child custody and visitation orders are examples of court judgments that illustrate these. Although they can be altered if necessary later, these are intended to be permanent.
What Distinguishes Physical from Non-Physical Orders?
It is possible for a court order that directs someone’s physical presence to be either temporary or permanent.
One typical type of temporary order that a judge might give is a restraining order, which places restrictions on how near one spouse can be to another (or to the children), particularly if there has been domestic violence in the past or there is a threat of it.
These kinds of orders may also be more long-lasting. Child visitation orders may specify the place where a non-custodial spouse may physically visit their children. Or, a child’s residence may be specified in custody orders for specific times of the year, such as summer break or holidays. Even the location and timing of custody swaps can be specified in orders.
Then there are orders that outline a spouse’s or parent’s obligations, either permanently after a divorce is finalized or temporarily while the case is still pending. The court orders requiring a spouse to make payments include child support and spousal support. This category of TROs includes those that guide the behavior of the parties by ordering someone to stop selling, destroying, or using communal property monies.
When Will Someone in These Cases Be Charged with Disobeying a Court Order?
In the instances described above, a person may be charged in Texas with breaching a court order if they knowingly or intentionally:
- Assault family members
- Threaten or harass the victim or their family directly through communication
- Go close to any location that is forbidden by the court order, such as the victim’s residence, place of employment, school, or daycare center.
- Possess a weapon
- Threaten, obstruct, mistreat, or seize control of the victim’s companion, pet, or service animal
- Delete or tamper with a global positioning system, either intentionally or unintentionally
What Is the Penalty for a First Offense of a Court Order Violation?
This legislation classifies the first crime of disobeying a court order as a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor carries the following penalties:
- A year in the county jail
- $4,000 fine
- Both county prison time and a fine
In Texas, is Disobeying a Court Order a Felony Offense?
Under this legislation, disobeying a court order becomes a crime if the offender has been convicted of the offense twice or more, has assaulted the victim, or has stalked the victim. Recurring offenses elevate the crime to a third-degree felony punished by:
- State prison sentence of two to ten years
- $10,000 fine
- A state prison sentence as well as a fine
Should I Consult an Attorney?
A court order violation is a significant offense, particularly if it occurs more than once. Speaking with a Texas criminal attorney to learn how to defend yourself against your criminal charge.
If you’ve been charged with violation of a court order, you need an attorney as soon as possible. Your freedom could be at stake. Do not try to fight these charges on your own. Use LegalMatch to find the right lawyer for your needs today.