Criminal Protective Orders in Texas

Many states have both civil and criminal protective orders. Each one works a little differently. But the main issue is the burden of proof. In civil court, litigants need only establish facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).

But in Tarrant County, there is only one kind of protection. Either a private attorney or a prosecuting attorney may request a protective order.

Protective Order Eligibility

Almost all POs involve Assault-Family Violence cases. A few involve sexual assault or other such cases, or stalking-type cases. Also, judges may issue POs in human trafficking cases.

Family members are eligible for special protection. This phrase is generally defined as anyone related by blood or marriage, or people who live under the same roof. The lines are sometimes a bit blurry. For example, one or two dates may or may not be a “dating relationship” under the law. Likewise, a few nights on a couch may or may not qualify as residence in the same household.

About Protective Orders

Protective orders prohibit a wide range of activities. Some of the more prominent ones include:

· Committing further violent acts against the applicant,

· Harassing the alleged victim at home or at work, and

· Being at a child’s school or daycare.

In some cases, protective orders may also include affirmative requirements, such as surrendering firearms, attending counselling, or paying support.

Protective orders are rather subjective. For example, person A may not be stalking Person B just because they are at the same restaurant at the same times. Given the high burden of proof in criminal cases, a “he said, she said” exchange is usually insufficient proof.

Temporary ex parte protective orders are valid for a maximum twenty days. Judges may issue these orders without notice to the other party and without hearings. A final protective order may be valid for up to two years. Prior to issuing these orders, judges must hold hearings.

At such hearings, both sides of the story come out. That’s one way to win at these hearings. Furthermore, bail conditions usually include restrictions which are about the same as a protective order. So, a PO is arguably unnecessary.

It’s always important to contest final protective orders. If the jurors learn that the judge issued a full protective order, that fact may unduly prejudice them against the defendant.

Protective orders may affect the outcome of assault and other cases. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. Convenient payment plans are available.