Family Violence: Protective Orders

What is a protective order?

A protective order is a court order issued to protect victims of family violence and dating violence.

What is “family violence”?

“Family violence” is an action or the threat of an action by a member of a “family” or “household” against another member of the “family” or “household” that is intended to cause physical harm, bodily injury, physical assault or sexual assault or reasonable fear of such action. Abuse toward a child of the family or household and dating violence are also “family violence.”

What is dating violence?

“Dating violence” is an action or the threat of an action by a person against another person with whom they have or have had a “dating relationship” that is intended to cause physical harm, bodily injury, physical assault or sexual assault, or reasonable fear of such action.

Do I have to give my address and phone number when I apply for a protective order?

You may not have to give your home or work address and telephone numbers or the address and telephone number of a protected child’s daycare or school. The judge will make this decision.

Who can file a protective order?

– For “family violence,” any adult in a household can file for themselves or any other member of the household, including a child who needs protection.
– For “dating violence,” any adult member of the dating relationship can file for themselves.
– Any adult may apply for a protective order to protect a child from family violence.
– The Attorney General, the District Attorney or the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services may also apply for any person who is a victim of family violence.

What do I have to show the court to get a protective order?

In order to be granted a protective order, you must prove to the court that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur in the future. A victim’s testimony may be enough to obtain a protective order, even if there is no police report.

How much does it cost to apply for a protective order?

There is no fee to the person applying for the protective order, but a person found by the court to have committed family violence may have to pay for certain court costs.

What happens to a person found to have committed family violence?

The court may issue an order stopping a person found to have committed family violence from:
– committing more family violence;
– communicating directly or indirectly with a person protected by the order;
– going near the home or work place of a person protected by the order;
– going near the home, day care or school of a child protected by the order;
– following, harassing, annoying, alarming, abusing, tormenting, or embarrassing a person protected by the order; and
– having a firearm.

What if a person violates the protective order?

Some violations can result in the police taking the person to jail if he or she violates the protective order. Additionally, if the person that violates the protective order is in the country illegally, he or she may be deported. Violations of a protective order can result in criminal charges being filed. Those charges could range from a Class A Misdemeanor to a third degree felony, depending on the charge and the history of the violator.

How are law enforcement agencies notified of protective orders?

The clerk of the court sends a copy of the order to the appropriate law enforcement agencies in the area where the member of the family or household protected by the order lives. The order is also entered into the statewide law enforcement information system maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Will Texas courts enforce a protective order from another state?

Yes, Texas courts will enforce valid protective orders from other states.

How long is a protective order effective?

A protective order can be effective for up to two years. However, the judge has the discretion to decide to make it effective for any amount of time less than two years.

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