Learn the differences between types of protective orders in Texas
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, about 20 Americans are physically abused by an intimate partner every minute. Fortunately, victims of domestic violence are protected under the law.
One way the law protects victims from further harm is through protective orders.
Most people use the terms protective orders and restraining orders interchangeably. While these 2 documents share some similarities, they are completely different in Texas.
What is a protective order?
Protective orders are legal documents demanding that an alleged abuser ceases assaulting, threatening or stalking the victim. This differs from a restraining order, which only requires that 1 party does not contact the other.
Protective orders are primarily used to protect individuals under the threat of domestic violence. Unlike restraining orders, protective orders contain specific details on how long the demand remains valid and the consequences of breaching it.
Another difference between the 2 is that protective orders are fiercely enforced. Unlike restraining orders, the terms of a protective order are enforceable. The stakes are even higher if it is an emergency protective order.
There are the 3 main types of protective orders in Texas.
1. Temporary ex parte protective order
A temporary ex parte protective order is issued by the court to provide immediate protection from the alleged abuser. It covers all the family members and other people living in the same household as the person under threat of violence.
To expedite the process, the alleged abuser doesn’t have to be present for the alleged victim to get a temporary protective order. However, there must be a clear threat of violence for the individual and their family members for a judge to issue one. The decision made by the judge will be informed by the information provided by the person seeking protection.
Once the details have been reviewed, the order is issued in a civil court. The order will remain valid for the period stated. Usually, temporary orders last for 20 days. However, it can be extended for another 20 days if the danger is still present. The victim can request the extension or a judge can decide to extend it.
2. Permanent (or final) protective order
A permanent protective order is issued if the temporary order is not sufficient. For instance, if the threat of violence still exists after the 20-day extension, then a final protective order may be issued.
There are 2 major differences between a permanent and temporary protective order:
- The final order remains valid for a longer time, usually a maximum of 2 years.
- A permanent protective order cannot be issued ex parte, meaning the alleged abuser will have to be present during the hearing. Since the implication will last for a longer time, they will have a chance to present their argument and dispute any claims about their behavior.
If someone is trying to secure a permanent protective order against you, you should consult with a reliable criminal defense attorney to argue your side of the story. Depending on the evidence presented, the judge can choose to terminate the request or extend the order.
3. Order of emergency protection
Unlike the first 2 protective orders, an order of emergency protection is issued by a magistrate in a criminal court. The victim of domestic violence doesn’t have to apply to get one. It can be requested by the arresting officer, guardian or prosecutor.
An emergency order is warranted if the alleged abuser committed any of the following offenses:
- Sexual assault
- Sexual abuse
- Indecent exposure
How to apply for a protective order
To obtain a protective order, one usually has to apply in the county where the alleged abuser lives or where the abuse took place. Here is a step-by-step guide of the process.
- Visit the District Attorney’s office. The district attorney handles protective orders in Texas. Although the prosecutor usually represents the alleged victim in court, you may want to consult with a private attorney because they are often able to devote more time to your case than a court-appointed attorney.
- Filling the forms. The judge will use the information provided in the forms when deciding whether or not to grant the protective order. The judge will ask the alleged victim to supply all the required information and be as detailed as possible. For instance, they must describe how the alleged abuser threatened or assaulted them. Other details include the petitioner’s name and address, the relationship between the alleged abuser and the victims and a request for a protective order.
- Review of the application. After filing the forms, the judges go over the details and may ask for clarifications. If there is an immediate threat of violence, a temporary protective order may be issued. If not, the clerk of court serves the alleged abuser with a notice of application. The alleged abuser is summoned to appear on a set hearing date.
- Schedule a hearing. A permanent protective order can only be issued once the judge has heard from both sides. There must also be a history of violence and cause to believe the alleged abuser will do it again. Failure to show up for a hearing could result in a ruling that is not in your favor.
A domestic violence case can have far-reaching consequences for both the accused and the alleged victim. Don’t seal your fate by going through the process without a lawyer. Reach out to the law office of Matthew D. Sharp for legal assistance about your domestic violence case.