Texas law takes the safety of its citizens seriously. When issues of violence, domestic battery or sexual assault arise, Texas has several different protective orders available to address the potential for future danger. An Emergency Protective Order is one of those protections but it’s limited in its availability and duration.
What’s the purpose of an Emergency Protective Order?
As its name implies, an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) is intended for situations which a court considers an emergency. Unlike other protective order options, an EPO can only be issued when an individual is arrested and only when they are arrested for specific offenses. The EPO is intended to protect the alleged victim from further violence, should the person arrested be released from custody.
When a person is arrested for offenses such as domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, the court has discretion whether to issue an EPO. In these discretionary situations, the EPO may be requested by the alleged victim or their guardian, a police officer or a prosecuting attorney. However, if the arrest was for domestic violence resulting in serious bodily injury or if a deadly weapon was used in any way, the court does not have discretion – an EPO must be issued.
What does the Emergency Protective Order do?
When an EPO is issued, it is a binding court order against the person named in the EPO. Any violation of the order constitutes a criminal violation, for which the individual can be arrested and prosecuted. The court can order that the person avoid both direct and indirect communication with the protected party, stay away from their home and place of work and commit no violent acts against them. The EPO will also prevent the person from possessing any firearm while the order is in effect.
An EPO will last for anywhere from 31 to 91 days, depending upon the circumstances. Once it expires, it must be replaced with a permanent protective order for its restrictions to continue.