For many victims of domestic abuse the decision to file criminal charges against their abusive partner and its implications are daunting enough to not seek help. The aftermath may be the partner being incarcerated thus no income being brought to the home or scarier yet, the partner being released and coming home. However, in Texas, individuals may apply for a Protective Order that is issued to protect individuals from their abusive partners without the need to file criminal charges. Protective Orders are treated as quasi- criminal and civil cases because they are civil in nature but have criminal consequences if violated.
Who May Apply for a Protective Order?
The Texas Family Code 82.002 states “an adult member of the family or household may file an application for a protective order to protect the applicant or any other member of the applicant’s family or household” from family violence or “a member of the dating relationship, regardless of whether the member is an adult or a child” or “an adult member of the marriage if the victim is or was married […]” or “any adult may apply for a protective order to protect a child from family violence.”
“Family violence” is described as an 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 that is a threat that reasonably places the member un fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault…” and includes “dating violence.”
How to Apply?
In order to apply for a Protective Order, seek an attorney to help you if you wish to be represented or if you wish to represent yourself, then review the Protective Order Toolkit put out by the Texas Attorney General to see which forms are best suited for you.
After you fill out the forms, then you take them to the courthouse to file them. You must file them in the county where you or the other person lives. However, if you have a divorce pending against that same person, then you must file them in that county or the county where you live.
How does the Protective Order Provide Protection?
With a Protective order you can get the following orders against the abusive partner: orders to stay away from the home, children’s school, and place of employment, orders to surrender the car to the other partner, orders to stop all communication or partial communication with the Applicant and/or children included in the application, orders enjoining the abusive spouse from a carrying or owning a gun, and orders for child support, visitation, and spousal support.
Consequences of Violating the Protective Order
If the partner violates the Protective Order, the penalties range from a fine to jail time and it can even lead to the partner being prosecuted for a misdemeanor or felony, carrying a jail sentence of 2 years minimum.
Protective Orders are intended to help those suffering from domestic abuse. The qualms of Protective Orders can be tricky and difficult to understand and our recommendation is always to seek the help of an attorney who can represent and prepare you for the process and hearing of a Protective Order. At Sanchez & Flores, we can assist you with such a process and make a difficult situation, a little easier to understand and navigate. Feel free to set up your free consultation with us today: 512-212-7851.