Under Texas statutes, any incidents of family-based violence allow the victim to seek protection under the law by requesting a protective order, more commonly referred to as restraining orders. Family based violence, or domestic violence, is any type of violence that occurs between spouses, members of the same household or those who were previously in a relationship. More specifically, the Texas Attorney General defines the “family” as “Family includes blood relatives or relatives by marriage, former spouses, parents (married or not) of the same child, foster parents and foster children, or any member or former member of a household (people living in the same house, related or not).” Protective orders are civil orders which are designed to protect the victim from a pattern of family abuse which includes:
- Physical abuse– any type of physical abuse including slapping, grabbing or hitting fall into the category of physical abuse. Victims do not have to show external signs of abuse for a charge to be filed.
- Emotional abuse– generally this is the type of abuse that reduces a person’s self-esteem. This form of abuse may include name-calling, belittling comments and other verbal comments that are upsetting to a victim and occur on an ongoing basis.
- Psychological abuse– this form of abuse involves threats and intimidation and may involve threats of sharing humiliating or embarrassing information or threatening to have a person declared an unfit parent.
- Economic abuse– when a person is dependent on another for financial support and that support is withheld as a means of punishment for a real or perceived problem it is illegal under the law.
Protective Order Provisions
Protective orders vary largely depending on your discussions with a family law attorney. We will work with you to determine which provisions will keep you safe in your home. Some of the requirements may include no contact which includes phone calls, emails and stalking. Other provisions require the abuser to remain a certain distance away from the victim at home, on the jobs, while in school or even in a vehicle. When the victim is living in the same home as their abuser, there may also be a move-out notice as part of the protective order. In nearly all cases, if the accused abuser has firearms the court will order the firearms seized.
Important Information About Protective Orders
Many people believe protective orders are simply pieces of paper that are provided to a victim with no hope of actually stopping the abuser. This is simply not true; there are serious penalties imposed in Texas when someone violates a protective order. Victims need to know the following about orders of protection:
- Length of time in effect– temporary protective orders are generally issued for 20 days. If the order is expanded, the usual time it will remain in effect is two years.
- Who may apply for an order – protective orders may be requested by victims of abuse, adult family member of an abused child or the prosecutor’s office.
- Cost of a protective order– the person who the protective order is against is the person who pays the associated fees.
Penalties for Violation of a Protective Order
Violating a protective order is taken very seriously in Texas and a prosecutor as well as law enforcement will do everything in their power to protect the victim. When a protective order is issued by the court, the local department of safety as well as the police station where the victim lives will be provided copies of the order. Should the defendant violate the protective order they could be facing:
- Civil charges– the minimum charge is considered a civil violation of contempt of court. This may involve jail time, fines and other punitive measures as determined by the court.
- Criminal charges– a defendant who violates a protective order may face fines of up to $4,000 and jail time. If the person committed any type of violence they can be facing misdemeanor or felony charges which could result in jail time of six months to two years as well as additional fines.
Contact Brandy Austin Law Firm
No person should have to live in fear of their safety whether at home, school or work. Unfortunately, too often daily stress causes people to lash out to those closest to them. It is also common for couples in the midst of a divorce to face physical abuse because emotions tend to be running high. If you are a victim of any type of domestic violence, you have the right to seek an order of protection. If you are worried about your safety and feel that a protective order would be applicable to your situation, contact Brandy Austin Law Firm at 817-841-9906 or contact us online to schedule a free in office consultation. We offer legal services for a range of clients in the areas and counties surrounding Arlington, Texas, including Tarrant, Johnson, Ellis, Navarro and Dallas counties. We can help you through the process of obtaining a protective order.