Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 5.01(a) states, “Family violence is a serious danger and threat to society and its members. Victims of family violence are entitled to the maximum protection from harm or abuse or the threat of harm or abuse as is permitted by law.” Regarding allegations of family violence, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 5.01(b) further states that the responding law enforcement or judicial officers must protect the victim, without regard to the relationship between the alleged offender and victim.
Protective orders (commonly referred to as restraining orders or protection orders) are civil orders of protection that prohibit alleged offenders from contacting or endangering alleged victims. Courts can issue temporary orders without alleged offenders being present at hearings, and failure to appear at a hearing for a final protective order results in a default protective order against the alleged offender.
Attorney for Protective Orders in Brownsville, TX
If you have been served with a notice of an application for a protective order in the Rio Grande Valley area, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. defends clients accused of domestic violence in communities throughout Hidalgo County, Cameron County, and Willacy County.
Brownsville criminal defense attorney Jonathan Gracia will fight to protect your rights and help you achieve the most desirable possible outcome. You can have our lawyer review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free initial consultation when you call 956-504-2211 today.
Cameron County Protective Orders Information Center
- What are the different kinds of protective orders that are available in Texas?
- How do protective order hearings work?
- What can protective orders require alleged offenders to do or not do?
- Where can I learn more about protective orders in Brownsville?
Types of Protective Orders in Texas
The person who files the application for a protective order is called the petitioner, and the person who the order is being sought against is referred to as the respondent. Texas has three types of protective orders:
- Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order — If a court finds that there is a clear and present danger of family violence, it may immediately issue a temporary ex parte order that is valid for up to 20 days (although temporary orders may be extended an additional 20 days). Temporary orders may be issued without respondents being present in court.
- Final Protective Order — Final protective orders (also called permanent orders of protection) may be issued following hearings that allow both the petitioner and respondent to present evidence and testimony. Final protective orders are valid for up to two years, although respondents can petition the court after one year to ask that they be discontinued.
- Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection (MOEP) — Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 17.292(a) states that when an alleged offender appears before a magistrate after arrest for an offense involving family violence or sexual assault, sexual abuse, or stalking, an MOEP can be issued by a magistrate either on his or her own motion or the motion of the alleged victim, the alleged victim’s guardian, a peace officer, or the state’s attorney. An MEOP is valid for not less than 31 days and not more than 61 days.
Protective Order Hearing Process in Brownsville
When the alleged victim of a domestic violence offense wants to obtain a protective order, he or she must fill out an application at the courthouse and wait for a judge to review his or her petition. If the judge finds from the information contained in the application that there is a clear and present danger of family violence, the court will issue a temporary ex parte order.
Texas Family Code § 82.043 establishes that every respondent to an application for a protective order is entitled to service of notice of an application for a protective order. The notice will generally inform the respondent of the crimes of which he or she has been accused and the date for a final hearing.
A final protective order hearing must be held no later than 14 days after the application was filed. At the final hearing, both the petitioner and the respondent are allowed to plead their cases, present evidence, and have witnesses testify on their behalves.
Injunctions in Texas Protective Orders
In a protective order, Texas Family Code § 85.022(a) authorizes a court to order a person found to have committed family violence to complete a battering intervention and prevention program accredited under Article 42.141 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
If such a referral option is not available, the court can order the offender to complete a program or counsel with a provider that has begun the accreditation process described by Texas Family Code § 85.022(a-1).
If neither of the two aforementioned options are available, the court may order the person to counsel with a social worker, family service agency, physician, psychologist, licensed therapist, or licensed professional counselor who has completed family violence intervention training that the community justice assistance division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has approved, after consultation with the licensing authorities described by Chapters 152, 501, 502, 503, and 505 of the Texas Occupations Code, and experts in the field of family violence.
Texas Family Code § 85.022(b) establishes that in a protective order, the court can also prohibit the person found to have committed family violence from:
- committing family violence;
- communicating directly with a person protected by an order or a member of the family or household of a person protected by an order, in a threatening or harassing manner; a threat through any person to a person protected by an order or a member of the family or household of a person protected by an order; and if the court finds good cause, in any manner with a person protected by an order or a member of the family or household of a person protected by an order, except through the party’s attorney or a person appointed by the court;
- going to or near the residence or place of employment or business of a person protected by an order or a member of the family or household of a person protected by an order;
- going to or near the residence, child-care facility, or school a child protected under the order normally attends or in which the child normally resides;
- engaging in conduct directed specifically toward a person who is a person protected by an order or a member of the family or household of a person protected by an order, including following the person, that is reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass the person;
- possessing a firearm, unless the person is a peace officer actively engaged in employment as a sworn, full-time paid employee of a state agency or political subdivision; and
- harming, threatening, or interfering with the care, custody, or control of a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal that is possessed by or is in the actual or constructive care of a person protected by an order or by a member of the family or household of a person protected by an order.
Cameron County Protective Orders Resources
Crime Victims | Protective Orders | Texas Attorney General — Visit this section of the Texas Attorney General’s website to learn more about protective orders. The Protective Order Kit contains information about eligibility, forms, and preparing for court. The Texas Attorney General’s website also has information about victims’ rights and victim service providers.
Texas Family Violence Program Statewide Report – 2016 | Texas Health and Human Services (HHS) — On this section of the HHS website, you can download the 2016 Texas Family Violence Program Statewide Report. The Family Violence Program (FVP) is required by Texas Human Resources Code §51.006 to publish a report each even-numbered year that summarizes data received from family violence centers under contract with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). In addition to family violence program expenditure information, the report also covers contract effectiveness, survivor accomplishments, and contractor accomplishments.
The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. | Brownsville Protective Orders Defense Attorney
Have you been served with a notice of an application for a protective order in South Texas? You will want to be absolutely certain to have legal representation for your hearing. Contact The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. as soon as possible.
Jonathan Gracia is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Brownsville who represents individuals in Willacy County, Hidalgo County, and Cameron County. Call 956-504-2211 or submit an online contact form to have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.