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Protective Orders in Texas

A new Texas law makes it easier for victims of family violence to get a protective order. House Bill 1432, which went into effect September 1st, 2023, removes the requirement to prove that violence is “likely to occur again” before a family violence protective order can be granted. This is intended to provide more access to protection.

Some people think protective orders are just a piece of paper with little value, but there is evidence that having one makes a difference. Protective orders reduce the likelihood of further victimization by approximately 80%. Protective orders are powerful and can save lives. House Bill 1432 also clarifies the standard for obtaining a family violence protective order, making it consistent with the standard for protective orders for stalking and sexual assault, which don’t require proving harm is likely to happen again.


What is a Protective Order in Texas?

A protective order is a court-mandated document issued to protect an individual from an abuser or perpetrator of violence in the state of Texas. It outlines the duties and obligations of both parties named in the order and is legally binding.

For victims of domestic violence and other forms of violence, a protective order is an invaluable tool that can help keep them safe from an abuser. It allows the victim to take a stand against their abuser by legally forbidding the abuser from engaging in certain actions, contacting the victim, and entering certain premises (such as the victim’s home).

In addition to being an effective preventative measure, a protective order can also provide valuable evidence to help bolster victims’ cases against abusers in court. If a perpetrator violates the order, it will be considered a criminal offense, which means the judge can issue a harsher sentence. This is particularly important for victims seeking justice; it provides them with added leverage against their abuser and serves as a strong deterrent for perpetrators.

In short, protective orders are an essential tool for victims of violence in Texas. They allow victims to stand up against their abuser and provide both safety and justice for them in the process.


What types of protective orders can be issued in Texas?

Protective orders, also known as restraining orders, are an important tool that victims of violence can use to prevent their abusers from coming near them and engaging in contact. In Texas, there are several types of protective orders that can be issued for different types of circumstances, which are all important in helping victims remain safe.

Emergency Protective Order: An emergency protective order (EPO) is a temporary restraining order that can be granted for cases involving violence or the threat of violence. An EPO order is usually granted on an emergency basis and only lasts until the court can hear the case and determine whether a restraining order should be issued.

Extended Protective Order: An extended protective order (EPO) is similar to an emergency protective order, but it lasts for up to two years. This type of order can be issued if the court finds that a person has committed violence or made a credible threat of violence.

Family Violence Protective Order: A family violence protective order (FVPO) is a court order that is issued in cases involving family violence or abuse. FVPOs can be used to protect people from any kind of abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or psychological abuse. This type of order can be issued regardless of whether or not the person accused of the violence has been convicted of a crime.

Stalking Protective Order: A stalking protective order (SPO) is a court order that can be issued if a person is found to have engaged in stalking behavior. This type of order prohibits the stalker from engaging in any contact with the victim or from coming near their home or workplace.

Civil Protective Order: A civil protective order is a court order that can be issued to protect an individual from stalking, harassment, or any type of violence. It can also be used to prevent a person’s access to firearms.

It is important for victims of violence to know that they can use protective orders to keep their abusers away and to remain safe. These orders are legal documents and should be taken seriously. If a protective order is violated, the offender can face serious consequences, including jail time. For this reason, it is important for victims of violence to speak to an attorney if they are considering seeking a protective order and to make sure that they understand the rights and responsibilities associated with a protective order.


How do I get a protective order?

In Texas, a Protective Order (also known as a “restraining order”) is an important tool available to those who fear for their physical safety. It is a civil court order forbidding a person from having any contact with another person or their family, and it can order the defendant from staying away from the person seeking the order.

There are several ways to apply:

  • Contact your local county or district attorney’s office.
  • Contact your local family violence shelter.
    • Call 800-799-SAFE (7233) to find the nearest one.
  • Contact your local legal aid office.
  • Hire an attorney.

Trying to get a protective order in Texas without an attorney should be your last resort.

Getting a Protective Order in the State of Texas requires filing a petition with the court. The petition must identify both the person seeking the order (known as the “petitioner”) and the person who the order is directed against (known as the “respondent”). The petitioner must then explain why they need the protective order by describing in detail any recent or past incidents of family violence, assault, stalking, or harassment.

Next, the petitioner must attend a hearing. The hearing is where the judge will decide whether to grant or deny the Protective Order. Both the petitioner and the respondent are allowed to present evidence and provide testimony in support of their arguments. After the hearing, the judge will make a final decision whether to grant or deny the order.

If a Protective Order is granted, the respondent must abide by all of its provisions or face arrest or other penalties. The order will also be entered into a state-wide database so that police officers can check for active protective orders when they encounter a situation that involves the respondent.

Protective orders can provide invaluable assistance to individuals who fear for their safety and well-being. However, if you are considering seeking a protective order in Texas, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice to ensure that your rights are properly protected.


What evidence is needed to obtain a protective order?

Protecting oneself and one’s family from abuse is essential to a person’s safety and wellbeing. Unfortunately, many victims of abuse struggle to take the necessary legal action to protect themselves. In Texas, a protective order is one of the most effective legal means available to protect a person from an abuser. However, it is important to understand what type of evidence is needed in order to obtain a protective order.

Some considerations:

  • Family violence includes any intimate partner violence, including dating violence and violence between same-sex partners.
  • A specific relationship with the abuser is not required for sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking protective orders.
  • Call the police when an incident occurs. If you have made reports before, it is more likely that a protective order will be granted.
  • Don’t delay in applying for a protective order. Apply right after the incident. Waiting reduces your chances of getting a protective order because the threat of immediate danger has passed.
  • Document incidents of abuse. Photograph injuries, save threatening voice messages, texts and emails. The more details you provide the stronger your chances.

A protective order is an order issued by a court that requires an abuser to stay away from the victim, as well as their family, friends, and home. In order to be granted a protective order, the victim must provide proof that abuse has taken place. Abuse is defined legally in Texas as “any offensive physical contact, attempted bodily injury, or other act that threatens or endangers the physical well-being of another.” As such, it is important to provide evidence that this abuse has occurred, such as photographs, medical records, police reports, or statements from witnesses.

In addition to proof of abuse, the victim may also need to provide evidence of a continuing threat of danger. Such evidence could include a pattern of threatening behavior or repeated attempts to contact the victim. Evidence such as text messages, emails, phone records, or other forms of communication can help to demonstrate this ongoing threat.

Finally, it should be noted that not all protective order cases are granted. Depending on the severity of the abuse and the evidence provided, the judge may deny the request, or impose certain restrictions such as only allowing the abuser to contact the victim under certain circumstances. As such, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible to ensure the best chance of success.


How long does a protective order last?

It depends on the type of abuse (stalking, dating violence, sexual assault, family violence); the seriousness of the harm, if children were present, if an arrest was made, past violence, the likelihood of future violence, and other factors. Protective orders for family violence usually last two years, but can be for any duration, including for life. Sexual assault and stalking protective orders can last for life.


What happens if someone violates a protective order?

If the abuser violates a protective order, he or she can be arrested and charged with a crime. Multiple violations can result in felony charges.

  • Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Criminal Law
  • National College for DUI Defense
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Laywers
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
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