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What You Need to Know About Protective Orders in Texas

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

What You Need to Know About Protective Orders in Texas

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If you have been the victim of violence in Texas, there are options to legally protect yourself from your abuser. A protective order is an order from the court designed to protect you from further violence. Learn more about protective orders below.

What Is a Protective Order?

When a protective order is issued, the person responsible for inflicting violence upon you is ordered to follow these rules:

  • No longer hurt you
  • No longer threaten you
  • Cannot contact you
  • Cannot contact your family, children, place of work, or schools
  • May not carry a gun or a gun license

These restrictions grant legal protection from an abuser and can allow for you to regain a sense of safety.

Situations That Require a Protective Order

A protective order is appropriate in any situation in which you have been a victim of violence at the hands of another person. Examples of violence that may require a protective order include:

At the discretion of the judge, other orders can be added to the protective order. The person responsible for inflicting violence upon you may be ordered to pay child support and offer medical support. They may also be forced to attend classes for anger management or drug treatment, be subject to drug treatment, and have their visitation rights with children altered.

If the person is currently living with you, they can be forcibly removed from the home. This is known as a “kick out” order and this may be the best tactic for someone who has committed family violence.

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Do You Need a Protective Order as a Victim of Family Violence?

Both threats and actual physical harm can be defined as family violence in the state of Texas. If a family member or a member of the household that you live in has intended to cause you physical harm, physical pain, physical damage, or illness, you may qualify for a protective order due to family violence.

If you have been assaulted or sexually assaulted by a family or household member, you may also qualify for a protective order.

Threats that qualify for a protective order due to family violence may include any threat that could cause you to fear that you are in risk of physical harm, bodily injury, sexual assault, or assault.

Family Violence When Children Are Involved

If you are worried about the well-being of a child in your home, you may be able to get a protective order to ensure their safety. Protective orders are given to protect children who are affected by family violence in the following cases:

  • Victimized by physical injury
  • Sexual abuse, sexual trafficking, prostitution, exposure to pornography other sexual indecency
  • Exposure or usage of drugs
  • Forced marriage

Am I Eligible for a Protective Order as a Victim of a Sex Crime?

Unlike a protective order due to family violence, you do not have to have an established relationship with someone in order to obtain a protective order as a victim of a sex crime. You can seek a protective order if you have been a victim of any of the following:

  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual abuse
  • Indecent assault
  • Human trafficking
  • Stalking
  • Forcible prostitution

As mentioned before, protective orders are not restricted only to sex crimes. If you live in the state of Texas, you may be eligible to obtain a protective order if someone has hurt or threatened you in any way, and you have a reasonable fear that they may cause you hurt again.

Evidence Needed to Obtain a Protective Order

The more evidence you have, the more likely a judge is to grant you a protection order. Documents such as pictures of injuries, threatening voice messages, intimidating texts, and eyewitnesses should be saved so that they can be used in court. If the perpetrator committed a past assault or violated a previous protection order, you may be able to use that as evidence as well.

Protection Orders vs. Restraining Orders

There is a common misconception that protection orders and restraining orders offer the same protection. However, a restraining order is typically given during a divorce or other family court proceeding. If the restraining order is violated, there are no criminal repercussions.

However, if a protection order is violated, the offender has committed a Violation of a Protective Order. This is a criminal offense, and the offender can face prison time and a lifelong felony conviction.

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Getting A Protective Order

If your safety is in immediate jeopardy, the court may grant you a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order. This will provide you with a temporary protective order until you are able to have a court hearing regarding your need for a long term protective order.

Typically, a court will grant a protective order that lasts for two years. Some situations will cause the judge to grant a protective order that lasts longer. In cases such as sexual assault and stalking, the protective order can be for life.

Do You Need an Attorney?

You are not required to have an attorney in order to obtain a protective order. However, you must go to court in order to obtain one. The person you have accused will likely have an attorney, and an attorney can help make sure that your rights are protected. An experienced attorney will also be able to guide you in determining what evidence can help increase the likelihood of obtaining a protective order.

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