A victim may take legal action against an alleged abuser in Texas. Courts may issue a protective order which can restrict a person’s activities and rights. Individuals who must comply with these orders may need to begin a domestic violence defense in some circumstances.
How a Protective Order works
A victim of violence, stalking or sexual abuse may file an application with a court for a protective order that would keep the alleged abuser away from them. There are different types of PO’s for tic abuse, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking victims.
If issued, the PO orders the accused abuser to stay away from the alleged victim, their family, home, workplace and the children’s school or day care. The alleged abuser, the respondent, is also prohibited from hurting, threatening, or harassing the applicant or the applicant’s children directly or through another person. Respondents may not carry a gun even if they are licensed.
PO’s can also contain other terms. A judge may order the respondent to make child and medical support payments, set child visitation terms and conditions or require the respondent to attend anger management classes or a substance abuse treatment program. The alleged offender may be evicted from the home if a kick out order is issued.
An applicant for a family violence order must show that violence occurred and that it is likely to continue in the future. Family violence includes violence from an intimate partner, dating violence, and violence between same-sex partners.
Applicants for the other orders must show that the alleged abuser committed stalking, sexual assault or trafficking. Applicants do not have to show that they had a specific relationship with the alleged abuser in these cases.
Applicants may submit photographs, threatening voice messages, texts and emails and other information to support their application. There is a greater likelihood that the PO will be issued if the applicant submitted these reports before. Reporting delays can decrease the chances for obtaining a PO because the threat of immediate danger may have passed.
A PO’s length depends on whether the abuse was family violence, stalking, dating violence or sexual assault. Other factors include the seriousness of the harm, whether children were present, if there was an arrest and the likelihood of future violence.
A respondent may be arrested and charged with a crime for violating a PO. Multiple violations can be grounds for felony charges.
PO’s can take away your rights and criminal prosecutions may have severe consequences. An attorney can help you face these allegations and protect your rights.