Throughout the years the Texas Legislature has created a system of legal protections for victims of family violence.
Protective orders have been the primary civil legal remedy since 1979. The advantage of these orders is the criminal penalty that occurs when the orders are disobeyed. Over time, protective orders have come to protect not only members of the same family but members of the same household and individuals who have or have had a dating relationship and victims of sexual assault as well. The Criminal District Attorney’s Office is committed to helping these victims obtain enforceable protective orders.
A protective order is a civil court order that tells an individual not to commit any further acts of violence. The District Attorney’s Office does not issue the protective order. Only a District Court judge can grant a protective order. Most protective orders are in place for two (2) years. A protective order takes at least two weeks to obtain and requires at least one appointment in our office and at least one court appearance.
How to Apply:
- Persons seeking to apply for a protective order may contact the Criminal District Attorney’s Office during business hours, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m, at (469)-376-4760.
- After a preliminary screening, the applicant may complete a Protective Order Application and submit it to a Protective Order Prosecutor.
- Upon meeting the legal requirements of the initial inquiry, an applicant meets with a prosecutor, who then handles the case from the intake stage, through filing and disposition of the application.
Protective Order Forms
Protective Order Application Intake Form
FAQs regarding Protective Orders
Who qualifies for a Protective Order?
- Members of a dating relationship; and
- Members of the same household:
- Individuals living together in the same dwelling unit without regard to whether they are related; and
- Individuals who previously lived in a household; and
- Members of the same family
- individuals related by blood
- individuals related by marriage
- individuals who are former spouses of each other
- individuals who are the parents of the same child without regard to marriage
- foster child and foster parent without regard to whether those individuals live together
- Every victim of sexual assault
Who is entitled to a Protective Order?
- Whoever qualifies and who the court finds that family violence has been committed against them and is likely to be committed against them in the future.
Who can file for a Protective Order?
- Any adult member of the family or of a dating relationship
Can a minor file for a Protective Order?
Who can file for a minor?
- Any adult may apply for a Protective Order to protect a child from family violence.
How much does it cost?
- There is no fee for someone who applies for a Protective Order. If a court grants an application for a Protective Order, then the court can order the Respondent, the one who committed the family violence, to pay court costs and the District Attorney’s Office attorney’s fees.
How does the Texas Family Code and the courts refer to someone who files for a Protective Order?
- The Applicant or in some instances the Protected Person
How does the Texas Family Code and the courts refer to someone who a Protective Order is filed against?
What is family violence?
- Act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault; or
- An act by a member of a family or household that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault
What is an imminent threat?
- Imminent means near at hand; mediate rather than immediate; close rather than touching; impending; on the point of happening; threatening; menacing; perilous.
- A threat of imminent bodily injury requires a present rather than a future threat.
In which County do you file a Protective Order?
- Where the Applicant lives
- Where the Respondent lives
Who represents you in a Protective Order?
- As long as you do not have any pending criminal cases with the District Attorney’s Office in the County, the District Attorney’s Office of the County you qualify for a Protective Order in can file a Protective Order for you on your behalf without any cost to you
- You can hire any attorney licensed in the State of Texas to represent you in a Protective Order.
How long does it take to get a Protective Order?
- If you qualify for a Protective Order and the District Attorney’s Office agrees to take the case, then an Application for a Protective Order and a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order. If the Judge signs the Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order, then a date must be set within 20 days.
- If an extension of the Temporary Ex Parte order is ever needed after the first court setting, then the next court date must be set within 14 days if the Respondent had not been served. Otherwise you can ask for the rescheduled setting to be within 20 days.
What can you do to kick the Respondent out of the house?
- If you qualify for a Protective Order,
- If you have lived at your residence within the last 30 days,
- If family violence has occurred within the last 30 days,
- then you must:
- File a sworn affidavit of the facts that took place requiring the Respondent’s exclusion of the residence
- Appear before the presiding Judge to testify to those facts
- And if the Presiding Judge finds that there is a clear and present danger that the person to excluded likely to commit family violence against a member of the household.
If the Respondent is excluded from the residence, does that mean he is off the title of the house and is no longer responsible for house payments?
- No, an exclusion paragraph in a Protective Order does not affect the title of the property.
If a final Protective Order is granted, what is the Respondent generally prohibited from doing?
- Directly communicating in a threatening or harassing manner with Applicant or to any member of the family or household;
- Communicating a threat through any person to Protected Person/Applicant or to any member of the family or household;
- Going within 200 yards of Protected Person/Applicant’s place of residence or any subsequent place of residence;
- Removing the children from Protected Person/Applicant’s custody;
- Going within 200 yards of the Protected Person/Applicant’s place of employment;
- Going within 200 yards of the Protected Person/Applicant’s children’s child care facility or school;
- Engaging in conduct directed specifically toward a person who is a member of the family or household following the person that is reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass that person;
- Transferring, encumbering or otherwise disposing, destroying, or harming of any real or personal property mutually owned or leased the parties except in the ordinary course of business;
- Engaging in conduct directed specifically toward a person who is a member of the family or household, including following the person that is reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass the protected person;
- Possessing a firearm or ammunition unless Respondent is a peace officer, as defined by section 1.07 of the Texas Penal Code, actively engaged in employment as a sworn, full-time paid employee of a stock agency or political subdivision. The Protective Order will suspend Respondent’s license to carry a concealed handgun issued under section 411.177 of the Texas Government Code.
Can you keep the Respondent from getting your current address, telephone number, place of employment?
- Yes. You or your attorney can request the court to exclude this information. If granted, the court will order the clerk to stride the information from public records and maintain a confidential record of the information for use only by the court.
What is the difference between a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order and a Final Protective Order after a Hearing?
- A Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order is only good for 20 days unless there is a request for an extension of the order.
- No hearing is required for it to be signed by a Judge unless you are trying to exclude the Respondent from the residence.
- If the Respondent violates the order, he is in contempt of court and the Judge can have the Respondent arrested and fined.
- A Final Protective Order after a hearing is good for up to 2 years.
- The Respondent must be served with notice of the hearing at least 48 hours prior to the court setting. He is entitled to a hearing if he chooses.
- If the Judge grants the Final Protective Order after a hearing and the Respondent violates the Protective Order, then he has committed a criminal offense and can be arrested.
Why would an extension be needed?
- The Applicant of a Protective Order is responsible for making sure the Respondent has been served at least 48 hours before the court setting.
- If the Respondent has not been served, then an extension will be needed.
- If the Respondent was not served with notice at least 48 hours before the court setting, then he can ask for a rescheduling date an then the applicant can request an extension.
Does the Respondent have to be served again if they ask for the hearing to be rescheduled?
- No. As long as they are the one asking for the rescheduling and they have already received notice, they do not have to be served with notice again.
If the Respondent violates a final Protective Order, what are consequences?
- Violation of a Protective Order is a Class A misdemeanor with a punishment range of up to 1 year in the county jail and a fine up to $4,000.
Will the Police or the Sheriff’s Office have a copy of your Protective Order on file at their office?
- Yes a distribution sheet is given to the District Clerk’s office designating who the Protective Order is to be sent to.
- The agency that would respond to the 911 call at the Protected Person/Applicant’s residence is on the Distribution Sheet.
- These agencies should keep them on file for the duration of the Protective Order.
How long is a final Protective Order good?
What happens if the Respondent has been served notice of the hearing for a final Protective Order and does not show up for court?
- Then it is considered to be a Default Judgment and the Protective Order will be granted.
Can I get another final Protective Order after the first one expires?
- If the Protective Order has been violated or if there is a threatened harm that reasonably places the Protected Person/Applicant in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault.
What happens if the Respondent agrees to the final Protective Order?
- Then a hearing is not needed.
Are the consequences less if the Respondent agrees?
- No. If the Respondent violates a Final Protective Order that was agreed to by all parties, the criminal consequences are the same as if the Judge had granted the Final Protective Order after a hearing.