If you do not feel safe because someone has threatened to harm you or has already harmed you, you do not have to continue to live in fear. You can apply for a protective order to restrain the person from hurting you again.
There is no shame in seeking help. The attorneys at the Ramos Law Group, PLLC, are here and ready to help if you are ready to take that step. Getting yourself out of a bad situation takes real courage, and we consider it a privilege to empower our clients to take the legal steps needed to move forward. We offer compassionate, confidential consultations.
Who Can Get a Protective Order?
In Texas, when you fear for your life or safety based on another person’s conduct, you can request a protective order (PO). POs restrain the conduct of the other person, and some states call them restraining orders.
You can request a protective order based on family violence or stalking, trafficking, or sexual violence. Family violence POs can only be issued if the parties have a qualifying relationship, while POs related to other criminal acts can be issued regardless of the parties’ relationship.
What Is Family Violence?
Three situations qualify as family violence for PO purposes:
- A family or household member threatens, attempts to cause, or actually causes physical harm, bodily injury, or sexual assault;
- A family or household member abuses a child of the family or household; and
- Dating violence.
Understanding these situations requires a few definitions.
- Individuals related by blood or marriage,
- Former spouses,
- Parents of a shared child, and
- Foster children and foster parents.
- Physical injury substantially harming a child;
- Directing sexual conduct toward a child;
- Encouraging sexual conduct by a child;
- Allowing or participating in the creation of child pornography;
- Physically, emotionally, or mentally injuring a child while using a controlled substance;
- Allowing a child to use a controlled substance; or
- Forcing a child to get married.
Finally, dating violence includes threatening, attempting to cause, or actually causing physical harm, bodily injury, or sexual assault between individuals currently or previously in a romantic or intimate relationship. Dating violence also includes violence against a person’s former romantic partner’s current partner.
Who Can Apply for a Family Violence PO?
Usually, the person who experienced the violence files the application. Any adult can file on a minor’s behalf, though the person who files is often a family or household member. A minor can file on their own behalf if the request is based on dating violence.
When Can Crime Victims Request POs?
Although these cases often involve criminal prosecution, criminal charges need not be filed for you to request a PO for:
- Sexual assault or abuse,
- Indecent assault,
- Stalking, or
- Human trafficking.
An adult may request a PO on behalf of a minor victim, as can a prosecuting attorney in a related criminal case. If the victim is over 18 years of age, they can object to the prosecutor filing a PO on their behalf.
What Types of Protective Orders Can You Get?
In Texas, there are three types of POs:
- Permanent, and
Temporary and permanent POs are civil in nature, while emergency POs are criminal in nature.
Temporary Protective Orders
Temporary POs are referred to as being “ex parte” because they do not require that the person you file the order against be provided time to respond. You have to convince a judge there is a “clear and present danger” that the other person will commit family violence or criminal harm against you or the person you request the order on behalf of.
Temporary POs last for 20 days and can be extended for an additional 20 days. After that, you request a permanent order in court if you want the PO to continue.
Permanent Protective Orders
To get a PO that lasts longer than 20 days, you have to present your case to a judge in a court hearing. The person you file the order against will have the opportunity to respond and defend themself. If they are notified of the hearing and choose not to attend, the court may enter a default order granting the PO. The other party may also consent to the PO.
If the other party does not agree to the PO and shows up to court, you can present your evidence that family violence or a criminal act occurred. Usually, that requires you to testify and explain what the other person did, using any evidence you may have such as photos, text messages, or witnesses. Then, the responding party will have a chance to defend against your evidence. After that, the judge will decide whether to issue a PO.
Facing your abuser in court and revealing details about the harm they caused is a challenging process and can expose you to additional trauma. We understand how difficult testifying can be, and we work with all our PO clients to provide whatever resources they need.
Permanent protective orders usually last for two years. They may last longer if the circumstances involved bodily harm or acts that constitute felonies, regardless of conviction, or if the subject of the PO has had two or more POs issued to protect the same person before.
Emergency Protective Orders
You can only request an emergency protective order (EPO) when the state arrests an individual for family violence or sexual assault. The state may also request an EPO through a police officer, magistrate, prosecuting attorney, or the court may issue it on its own motion. EPOs last 31 to 91 days.
What Can Protective Orders Do?
The law empowers the court to restrain the subject of the PO’s conduct in several ways, including prohibiting them from:
- Committing criminal acts or acts of family violence against you;
- Coming within 200 feet of you, your home, your workplace, your family, or your children’s school or care facility;
- Contacting you electronically;
- Living in your home;
- Possessing a gun;
- Harming or threatening your pets; or
- Tracking or monitoring you.
The court can tailor the order to ensure you are protected.
Reach Out for a Confidential Consultation with a League City Protective Orders Attorney
Applying for a PO is a challenging process, but we encourage you to begin as soon as possible. If you need a protective orders lawyer, contact us today. We can provide a confidential consultation and help you locate resources to keep you safe. We aim to empower all of our clients and offer our support and compassion through every step of the PO process.