Were you recently arrested for family violence at your home? Or, did your partner or spouse go to court and take out a protective order against you? In either case, it’s important that you learn about Texas protective orders and how they can control what you say and do.
To learn more about protective orders in Texas, please read our list of frequently asked questions. If you need further information, or if you’re facing criminal charges for family violence, we urge you to contact our office for help!
What is a protective order?
It’s a civil court order issued by the court, barring the person named in the order from committing further acts of sexual assault, harassment, human trafficking, stalking, or family violence.
What is family violence?
Some states call it domestic violence, however, here in Texas we call it “family violence,” which refers to when a family or household member threatens or physically harms another family or household member.
Who counts as family?
Family includes parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, spouses, other blood relatives, adoptive parents and adoptive children, and current and former household members.
What can a protective order do?
Protective orders generally prohibit offenders from:
- Stalking a victim
- Committing sexual assault
- Engaging in human trafficking
- Committing family violence
- Threatening a victim, directly or indirectly
- Harassing a victim
- Going near the daycare or school where his or her child attends (assuming the child is protected in the order)
What else can a protective order do?
Protective orders can do other things, such as order the offender to pay spousal and child support, order the offender to stay away from the family’s home, order the offender to relinquish all firearms, and receive mandatory counseling. An order may also prohibit the offender from transferring or selling any property.
Do I meet the requirements for a protective order?
If the court finds that someone did commit family violence or sexual assault, or if they are guilty of stalking, such individual would qualify for a protective order against them. Protective orders are unique to every situation and are granted on a case-by-case basis.
How do victims get protective orders?
They apply for them through the district or county attorney, through a legal aid service, or a private lawyer. Victims must file their applications in the county where their abuser lives. Texas does not impose a residency requirement for applying, and protective orders can be obtained in every county.
Do offenders have a right to a hearing?
Unless the applicant requested a later date, the court sets hearings within 14 days of the date the application is filed. However, if the court feels the family is in serious danger, the court can issue a temporary ex parte order, which is valid for 20 days.
How long do final protective orders last?
Final protective orders are generally good for two years, unless the court specifies a different length of time.
What if a protective order is violated?
Local law enforcement agencies receive notice of all protective orders in their jurisdiction, and they keep a list of these orders. If an offender violates an order and the victim notifies law enforcement, the offender will be arrested and charges will likely follow.
Depending on the facts of the case, a violation is punishable by a $500 to $4,000 fine, and between 6 to 12 months in jail.