What types of protective orders are available? How long do they last?
Temporary ex parte order
At the time you file your application, the court can give you a temporary ex parte (emergency) protective order for sexual assault or abuse, stalking or trafficking that would last until your full court hearing. An ex parte order may be granted if there is a clear and present danger to you of sexual assault, sexual abuse, indecent assault, stalking, trafficking, or other harm. The order can protect you or any other member your family or household.1 Be sure to ask for an ex parte order if you want this immediate protection.
Protective order (after a hearing)
The judge will hold a hearing where both you and the abuser have the right to attend, offer evidence, testimony, witnesses, etc. You may choose to be represented by a lawyer, especially if the abuser will have one. At this hearing, the judge will decide whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that you are the victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse, indecent assault, stalking, trafficking, or one of the other crimes of a sexual nature.2
If the judge grants a protective order after a hearing, the order can last for as long as the lifetime of the abuser and the victim or for any shorter period specifically stated in the order. If the order does not state the termination date, the order ends two years after the date it was issued.3 For the order to last as long as the lives of the abuse and the victim, both of the following must be true:
- the abuser was convicted of, or placed on deferred adjudication community supervision for, any of the following crimes:
- the abuser is required to register for life as a sex offender.4
Note: If the perpetrator is confined or in prison on the date the order is set to expire, it’s possible that the order could automatically be extended until one year after the date s/he is released. However, this only applies if the order was issued before September 1, 2017. This law was repealed (is no longer in effect) and so it does not apply to any orders that were issued on or after September 1, 2017.5
1 Tex. C.C.P. Art. 7A.02
2 Tex. C.C.P. Art. 7A.03(a)
3 Tex. C.C.P. Art. 7A.07(a)
4 Tex. C.C.P. Art. 7A.07(a-1)
5 Tex. C.C.P. Art. 7A.07(c)