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Texas Legislature Establishes New “Domestic Violence Registry”

You probably know that Texas maintains a public registry of individuals convicted of certain sex crimes. Recently, the Texas legislature voted to apply a similar principle to individuals who are the subject of a domestic violence protection order. Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed Senate Bill 325, which directs the Texas Judicial System to establish a “protective order registry” no later than June 1, 2020.

SB 325 has been described in the press as “Monica’s Law.” This refers to Monica Deming, a woman from Odessa. Deming’s ex-boyfriend murdered her in 2015 despite the existence of several domestic violence protective orders issued against him, according to a report from KFDA-TV.

Public Will Soon Be Able to Search for Information on Protective Orders

Current Texas law gives members of law enforcement access to information regarding domestic violence protective orders. But this information is not shared with the public. SB 325 would make public not only protective orders, but also “applications” for such orders under the Family Code or in cases where an individual is “arrested for an offense involving family violence.” The registry itself will be Internet-based and implemented by the Office of Court Administration “[i]n consultation with the Department of Public Safety and the courts of this state.”

Any member of the public will be able to search the registry free of charge. The registry must be searchable according to the county that issued the domestic violence protection order, as well as the name and birth year of the person who is the subject of an order. Other information that must be made available to the public via the registry includes:

  • the court that issued the domestic violence protective order;
  • the case number;
  • the full legal name, birth year, race or ethnicity, and county of residence of the subject of the order;
  • the dates on which the order was issued by the court and served on the subject; and
  • the date on which the protective order was vacated or expired, if it is no longer in effect.

Note that SB 325 only grants the public access to information regarding protective orders that are issued by a court. Information about applications for protective orders–as well as copies of the actual orders–will not be publicly accessible. But this information will be made available to certain “authorized users,” including the Texas attorney general, district attorneys, and police officers.

Get Legal Help from a Houston Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Today

Once in place, local court clerks will be required to update the registry within 24 hours of a judge entering a domestic violence protective order. This underscores the serious impact such an order will have on the subject’s life. Any member of the public, including potential employers and landlords, will have access to this information.

This is why you need to take any allegation of domestic violence seriously. An experienced Houston criminal defense attorney can advise you on the best way to fight a domestic violence protective order in court and keep your name off the forthcoming registry. If you need immediate advice or assistance, contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today. Call (281) 280-0100