Protective Order

What is a Protective Order?

A protective order may prohibit the offender from:

  • committing further acts of family violence
  • harassing or threatening the victim, either directly or indirectly by communicating the threat through another person
  • going to or near a school or day-care center that a child protected under the order attends; or
  • Possessing a firearm

A protective order is a civil court order issued to prevent continuing acts of family violence.

There 3 types of protective orders:

  • Emergency Protective Order – an EPO is given by law enforcement when the offender is arrested.  This is the only time that an EPO can be obtained.  An EPO has all of the protections of a permanent protective order for the client until a permanent protective order is obtained.
  • Temporary Protective Order – When the victim initially seeks a PO and does not have an EPO they will meet with the DA’s office, an application will be presented to a judge ex parte (the offender is not present to defend himself) and if signed, it becomes a temporary PO.  It usually lasts for 2 weeks to provide protection until a court date is set and can be extended if needed
  • Final Protective Order – both parties, the victim and offender will meet in court and stand before the judge.  The victim will be represented by the DA’s office or an attorney and the offender may have an attorney.  If awarded, a final PO for family violence lasts up to 2 years. Sexual assault POs can be lifetime or a designated time frame.

Who is Eligible for a Protective Order? 
A protective order may be issued to:

  • A victim of family violence or dating violence as defined by the Texas Family Code; or
  • A sexual assault victim who has been threatened with further harm
  • Protective orders may be issued in a wide range of situations. The victim and alleged offender may be married, divorced, live or formerly lived together in the same household, have or used to have a dating relationship, or have a child together.

How Can I Get a Protective Order? 
You can apply for a protective order through the district or county attorney, a private attorney, a legal aid service program, or a domestic violence agency can assist you in completing the application. The application must be filed in the county in which you or the offender lives. There are no minimum time limits to establish residency, and protective orders are available in every county in Texas.

What does it Cost? 
The applicant (victim) or their attorney may not be charged by a district or county clerk or by a sheriff, constable or other public official or employee in connection with the filing, serving, entering or for any other service including any fees for dismissing, modifying, or withdrawing a protective order, certifying copies, comparing copies to originals, court reporter fees, judicial fund fees, transferring a protective order or for any other service related to a protective order.

The court shall require the offender to pay the fees incurred in connection with the protective order unless the offender shows good cause or is indigent.

How Long Does it Take to Receive and How Long Does it Remain in Effect? 
Unless a later date is requested by the applicant, the court shall set a hearing date no later than 14 days after the application is filed. If, however, the court finds from the information contained in the application that there is a clear and present danger of family violence, the court may immediately issue a temporary ex parte order. The temporary order is valid for up to 20 days. Final protective orders are effective for up to two years for family violence and up to life for sexual assault.

What happens if the Protective Order is violated?  

Call the Police Immediately!!

Remember, protective orders do not offer complete protection. No piece of paper can protect you from all instances of violence.

Law enforcement agencies are notified of all protective orders issued in their area and they are required to maintain a list of those orders. If an offender violates the order and law enforcement is notified, officials will act to arrest the offender and seek to have charges filed. If a person violates the protective order in the presence of law enforcement, the offender must be arrested immediately. In cases involving the violation of a protective order, including an ex parte order, the offender may be punished for contempt of court by a fine of as much as $500 or up to six months in jail or both. In cases of violation, excluding ex parte orders, the offender may be punished by a fine of as much as $4,000 or jail for up to one year or both.

 Denton County DA’s office (940) 349-2600