Each state has what are called restraining orders or protective orders, which are meant to protect the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence (family violence). In Texas, they are called protective orders. Texas protective orders are civil court orders that order abusers to leave their victims alone and to stop committing further acts of violence.
The Office of the Attorney General of Texas defines family violence “as (1) any act by one member of a family or household intended to physically harm another member, (2) a serious threat of physical harm, or (3) the abuse of a child.”
Family may include the following:
- Blood relatives
- Relatives by marriage
- Former spouses
- Parents (married or not)
- Foster parents and foster children
- Any member of the same household
- Any former member of the same household
What Can a Protective Order Do?
A Texas protective order can order an offender to:
- STOP hurting his or her victims
- Move out of the family home
- Cease stalking the victim
- Not contact the victims protected in the order
- Stay away from the victims’ work or schools
- Receive mandatory counseling
Note: Under state and federal law, it is illegal for someone named in an active protective order for family violence to possess a firearm. For more information, see TX Family Code Chapter 85.026 and 18 USC Chapter 922(g)(8).
Who can be named in a protective order? If the court determines that family violence has occurred or will likely recur, the court can issue a protective order prohibiting the abuser from contacting or going near those named in the order. However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach; protective orders are issued on a case-by-case basis.
Victims of family violence can apply for protective orders with the help of an attorney, in the county where the offender resides. There is no residency requirement and protective orders can be obtained in all counties throughout Texas.