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Disclaimer:  The legal information provided on this website is the product of Legal Aid NorthWest Texas (LANWT). None of the legal information on this website is associated with or the product of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas or any of its employees.

 

What is a protective order?

A protective order is an order entered by a judge or magistrate to prevent continuing acts of family violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking.   For more information on filing a protective order

 

What is family violence?

Family Violence is the legal term in Texas that includes intimate partner abuse.


Intimate partner abuse can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.


Abuse can include physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.


Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

 

Who can apply for a protective order?

These may apply:

 

  • An adult member of a family or household; or
  • any adult for the protection of a child; or
  • a prosecuting attorney; or
  • the Department of Human and Regulatory Services.


The person who is the alleged victim of family

violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking is considered to be the "applicant."

 

 

Where can I apply?

You can apply for a protective order through the district or county attorney, a private attorney, or through a legal aid service program. The application must be filed in the county in which you or the offender lives. There are no minimum time limits to establish residency, and protective orders are available in every county in Texas.

 

What is a protective order?

A protective order is an order entered by a judge or magistrate to prevent continuing acts of family violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking.   For more information on filing a protective order

 

What Information Do I Need to Provide?

When you apply for a protective order, you must supply the following information:


The name of each applicant (victim) and the county where each applicant (victim) resides;


the name, address, and county of residence of each individual who has committed family violence the offense against which protection is sought;


the relationship between the victim(s) and the offender;


a request for one or more protective orders.


The victim should file for the order as soon after the incident has occurred as possible. Additionally, if other incidents family  violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking have occurred, the victim needs to provide this information to the attorney who files the protective order application. 

 

What Other Options are Available?

A Magistrate's Order for Emergency Protection may be issued at the time of a defendant's appearance before a magistrate after arrest for an offense involving family violence, sexual assault, human trafficking or stalking. The order for emergency protection may be issued on the magistrate's own motion or on the request of:

 

  • the victim;
  • guardian of the victim;
  • a peace officer; or
  • the attorney representing the State.


A Magistrate's Order for Emergency Protection may prohibit the arrested offender from committing any further acts of family violence, communicating with a member of the family or household or the person named in the order, or making any threats or going near the place of employment, household or business of a member of the household or of the person named. The offender may also be restricted from going near a school or day care facility. The victim does not have to be present in court when the order is issued.


A violation of this order may be punishable by a fine of as much as $4,000 or by confinement in jail for up to one year or both.


Remember, if someone has physically assaulted or threatened you, contact your local police department or sheriff's office to press charges against that person. Even if you are ineligible for a protective order, you may be able to have the person arrested for assault, criminal trespass, or stalking.

 

How Long Does it Take to Receive and How Long Does it Remain in Effect?

Unless a later date is requested by the applicant, the court shall set a hearing date no later than 14 days after the application is filed. If, however, the court finds from the information contained in the application that there is a clear and present danger of family violence, the court may immediately issue a temporary ex parte order. The temporary order is valid for up to 20 days. Final protective orders are effective for 2 years, unless another length of time is specified.