Can Anyone Obtain a Domestic Violence Protection Order Against Me?

Galveston County residents accused of domestic violence may be subject to an order of protection. This is a type of restraining order that forbids the subject from having any contact with the person who requested the order. But as with any type of court order, you do have certain due process rights when accused of domestic violence–or family violence, as it is defined by Texas law. And an accuser cannot simply show up in court and demand an order of protection without meeting certain threshold legal requirements.

Family Violence Requires Proof of a Relationship Between Accuser, Accused

A recent decision by a Texas appeals court, Reynolds v. Wellman, offers a helpful illustration. In this case, the petitioner sought an order of protection against the respondent. The petitioner alleged the respondent had “committed family violence and is likely to commit family violence in the future.” But following a trial where both sides made their case, the judge dismissed the petition.

The judge’s reason for doing so was simple: The petitioner failed to prove she was in a “family relationship” with the respondent. Under the Texas Family Code, a person may only file for a protective order if she is either “an adult member” of the respondent’s “family or household,” their spouse, or someone with whom they are in a “dating relationship.” Here, the petitioner never alleged she was in any sort of dating relationship with the respondent. Indeed, she claimed they “had never met in person.”

Appealing the judge’s decision, the petitioner–who represented herself without an attorney–tried to argue the respondent was “stalking” her, and that justified the order of protection. The Court of Appeals was not sympathetic. The petitioner’s theory was that the respondent “was using sophisticated equipment to listen to her and that he was communicating with her by using an unusual technology that used transatlantic sound waves.” But she never raised these allegations–which were unusual, to say the least–before the trial court. And as the appeals court explained, the job of the trial judge here was to determine whether the respondent committed acts of family violence, which are of a completely different nature than a stalking allegation.

Get Help from a Galveston Domestic Violence Attorney Today

The case above certainly appears, at first glance, to be a frivolous attempt to improperly obtain a family violence restraining order. But even meritless petitions can impose a substantial hardship on the unjustly accused respondent. Consider the fact the respondent above had to defend himself not just before the trial court, but also the Court of Appeals.

The lesson here is that you can never afford to take any domestic violence accusation lightly. You must be prepared to defend yourself in court, even when you know the accuser has no evidence to backup their allegations. If you need assistance from a qualified Galveston domestic violence attorney, contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at 281-280-0100 today.