According to the Texas Advocacy Project, a third of Texans may encounter some form of domestic violence during their lifetime. Unfortunately, domestic violence is an increasing problem, but there are several things that people can do when it occurs. For instance, victims of domestic violence may seek protective orders to prevent the offenders from contacting them. To learn more about protective orders in family violence cases, consider contacting an experienced attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, by calling (512) 454-7548 to schedule a consultation.
Understanding Domestic Violence
In the United States, more than 10 million people encounter physical domestic abuse every year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). This type of abuse falls under the umbrella term of “domestic violence,” which refers to incidents when one partner is abusive towards the other partner in an intimate relationship with the intention of gaining power and controlling the other person. Domestic violence includes sexual abuse, physical violence, humiliation, threats, name-calling, and even constant criticism. Also included is limiting a partner's access to transportation, employment, or funds.
What Are Protective Orders?
People who have encountered domestic violence, sexual abuse, or stalking can apply for a protective order (PO) to keep the offender away from them. There are various types of protective orders depending on whether the matter involves dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking, or stalking. These court orders are issued to prevent the offenders from:
- Carrying firearms, even if they have a license
- Visiting the victim and his or her family at home, work, or school
- Hurting, harassing, or threatening the victim and his or her children, including through another individual
A PO can also require the offender to undergo drug testing, attend a treatment program for substance abuse, attend an anger management program, or leave the family home. Additionally, protective orders may order the offender to pay child and medical support, follow certain conditions when visiting children, or separate a family cell phone account.
Who Can Get a Protective Order?
In Texas, a person can apply for a PO on his or her own behalf or on a child's behalf if one of the following criteria apply:
- The offender is a family member or part of the victim's household
- The offender had a romantic relationship with the victim
- The offender is the current partner or spouse of the victim's former partner or spouse, or vice versa
A victim of sexual assault can also apply for a protective order against the offender even if he or she is not a member of the same household or a family member, such as a neighbor or co-worker. If you have encountered domestic abuse and want to learn more about protective orders in family violence cases, a knowledgeable attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, may be able to help.
Types of Protective Orders
In Texas, the following three types of protective orders are available:
- Temporary protective orders
- Permanent protective orders
- Emergency protective orders
A civil court will issue a temporary or permanent protective order based on an application filed by the victim. The offender does not need to be under arrest for a victim to apply for and receive a temporary or permanent protective order. If the offender is under arrest, a criminal court may issue an emergency protective order.
Temporary Protective Order
Temporary protective orders provide immediate protection for the victims and their family members from the person who is inflicting the abuse. The order can be issued without the offender being present in the courtroom. To issue a protective order, the judge must be convinced that the offender is likely to commit further violence against the victim or a member of his or her family. These orders are in place for a time period that depends on the individual case and usually lasts for a maximum of 20 days. However, the judge may extend this time by another 20 days if requested or if the judge thinks an extension is necessary.
Permanent Protective Order
A permanent protective order will be in place much longer than a temporary order. Usually, these permanent orders last up to two years, but the exact length of time may vary depending on the case. Additionally, a judge may issue a longer order if the abuse that was inflicted was serious or if the judge believes that further family violence is likely. Regardless of the length of the order, the offender may ask the court to discontinue the order after one year. Upon receiving a motion to discontinue the order, the judge will determine whether it is necessary for the order to continue and, if not, may decide to end the PO early. Even if the offender does not breach the protective order during that time, this may not be enough to convince the court to end the PO earlier than the date listed on the order.
Emergency Protective Order
A criminal court will typically issue an emergency protective order after the offender has been arrested for sexual assault, indecent assault, sexual abuse, family violence, trafficking, or stalking. The victim of the abuse does not need to be present in court for the judge to issue this type of order. The following people can ask a judge to issue an emergency PO:
- The victim of the abuse
- The legal guardian of the victim
- The police
- The state prosecutor or attorney
If the offender used a deadly weapon or caused serious physical injuries while committing family violence, the judge will find it necessary to issue an emergency protective order, even if one had not been requested. Usually, these orders last between one and three months.
Contact an Attorney for Help with a Family Violence Case
Lawyers know the significance of protective orders in family violence cases, and an attorney can help a victim apply for a protective order for protective from domestic violence. A seasoned attorney can help by walking the victim through the potentially challenging time of navigating the court process to obtain a protective order. To learn more, consider contacting an experienced attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, by calling (512) 454-7548 to schedule a consultation today.