Those who have been the victims of domestic violence in Texas can legally protect themselves by requesting a protective order. These orders are issued by the court and are specifically designed to shield petitioners from further violence. There are, however, certain procedures and rules with which petitioners must comply, so if you believe that you qualify for a protective order, you should look to an experienced Houston domestic violence lawyer. We know how serious these situations can be. Don’t hesitate to contact us to help you.
What are Protective Orders?
Protective orders provide legal protection to victims of domestic violence by requiring respondents, or those accused of committing the offense, to comply with a strict set of rules. For instance, the standard domestic violence protective order:
- Bars respondents from hurting, threatening, or harassing petitioners and their children;
- Forbids respondents from coming within a certain distance of petitioners’ homes, workplace, or their children’s schools;
- Prohibits respondents from contacting petitioners in any way, including through a third party; and
- Bars respondents from carrying a firearm, even when licensed.
Judges also have discretion to add to these restrictions, with many ordering respondents to pay child support, attend anger management classes, undergo drug testing or a substance abuse evaluation, and vacate the family home.
How Do I Request a Protective Order?
Both threats and actual physical harm fall under the definition of family violence, so when requesting this type of protective order, petitioners will need to demonstrate that they were either threatened with, or the victim of, physical violence and that they feel in imminent danger of further violence. The evidence used to prove that this fear exists or that physical violence occurred can take a number of different forms, including everything from pictures of an injury and threatening voicemails to eyewitness testimony and police reports. A petitioner may also be able to use evidence of a respondent’s prior criminal history if it includes assault or other allegations of domestic violence. If granted, protective orders have the force of law, so if a person violates the terms of a protective order, he or she can be arrested and fined.
How Long do Protective Orders Remain in Effect?
The amount of time that a protective order will remain in effect depends on a few different factors, including:
- Whether the order is temporary or permanent;
- The seriousness of the harm suffered by the petitioner;
- Whether children were present during the incident;
- Whether the respondent was arrested;
- Whether there is a history of violence in the household; and
- The likelihood of future violence.
While protective orders can last for any duration, including life, most family violence orders remain in effect for two years.
Call Today for Help
Although you don’t technically need an attorney to obtain a protective order, those accused of domestic violence usually retain one, which can put victims at a disadvantage when it comes to protecting their legal rights. To learn more about how an experienced Houston domestic violence lawyer could help with the filing of your own request for a protective order, please call The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at (281) 280-0100 today.