Know the Laws: Texas
UPDATED July 20, 2016
A protective order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by someone you have a specific relationship with. The order can also place other restrictions on the abuser, such as ordering him/her to stay away from you or stop contacting you.
Here are some things you may want to consider doing. However, you will have to evaluate each one to see if it works for your situation.
* Tex. Fam. Code § 81.002(2)
** Tex. Fam. Code § 85.042(a),(a-1),(b)
An abuser can violate a protective order by disobeying any of the restrictions in the order. For example, s/he can violate the restriction:
If you believe that the abuser has violated the protective order, you can immediately call 911 and the abuser can be arrested. Under Texas law, a law enforcement officer must arrest the abuser if the officer witnesses a protective order violation, and may arrest the abuser if the order is violated outside of the officer’s presence.**
Protective orders will have certain warnings written right on the order. Both temporary ex parte orders and permanent protective orders state that a violation of the order can be considered "contempt of court" with a punishment of up to $500, a jail sentence of up to 6 months, or both. The orders also state that if a person commits an "act" that is forbidden in the order, s/he can be punished by a fine of up to $4,000, a jail sentence up to 1 year, or both. If the "act" committed results in family violence, the abuser can be prosecuted separately for that crime. If s/he commits a felony, s/he can be sentenced to prison for at least two years.***
When the police arrive, it is usually a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case. Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made. If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it could help you have the order extended or modified in the future.
* Tex. Penal Code § 25.07(a)
** Tex. C.C.P. Art. 14.03(a)(3),(b)
*** Tex. Fam. Code § 85.026
Federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have an protective order, it is enforceable, or it can protect you, wherever you go in the United States, including U.S. territories and tribal lands.
Different states have different rules for enforcing out-of-state orders. You can find out about your new state's policies by contacting a domestic violence program, the clerk of courts, or the prosecutor in your new area.
You might also want to call the court where you originally received the order to tell them your new address so that they can contact you if necessary. However, before giving out an address that you don't want the abuser to have, be sure to ask the clerk if there is a way to keep it confidential and confirm that it will not be accessible to the abuser.
To read more information please see our Moving to Another State with a Texas Protective Order section.
If you want to change the order to add a specific protection to it or to take something out of the order, you can file to modify the order. The abuser can also file to modify the order. The judge would hold a hearing to decide what changes to make.* You will have to go back to the court where you originally filed your application and tell the clerk you want to change your order. You will find links to online forms that you may need at our TX Download Court Forms page. Also, you can update any information listed on the order such as your address, telephone number, place of employment, or the child-care facility or school of a child protected by the order if any of this changes after you get the order.**
* Tex. Fam. Code § 87.001
** Tex. Fam. Code § 87.004(a)
If the abuser is in jail or prison when the order is set to expire or if s/he was released from jail/prison within the one year before the order’s expiration date, the order will automatically be extended. If the abuser was sentenced to more than 5 years of incarceration, the order will expire on the first anniversary of the date s/he is released from imprisonment. If the abuser was sentenced to 5 years or less of incarceration, the order will expire on the second anniversary of the date s/he is released from imprisonment.* You can request a new order from the court showing the extended expiration date to make it easier to enforce in case of a violation.
Filing to renew a current order or an expired order
If the abuser violates the order while the order is still valid, this violation could be a reason to renew the order. You can file for the renewed protective order within the last 30 days of the order (within 30 days before the order's expiration date). You will have to include with your application:
If your current order has already expired, you can file for a new protective order if:
You will need to attach a copy of the expired protective order to your new application (or if you don't have a copy available, you will have to file it before the hearing date) and you will have to go through all of the steps of originally filing for an order.
* Tex. Fam. Code § 85.025(c)
** Tex. Fam. Code § 82.0085
*** Tex. Fam. Code § 82.008