A protective order, restraining order, or order of protection in Houston is a civil court order that is issued if the judge determines that family violence or dating violence has occurred and is likely to occur in the future. Protective orders are usually most common in cases of domestic violence or family violence in Houston.
Family violence is defined under Texas law as any act or threat to act by a family or household member that causes or intends to cause physical harm or bodily injury. Family violence can also include acts of child abuse.
A family or household member in Texas is:
- Anyone who is related through blood or marriage,
- Former spouses,
- Parents of the same child,
- Foster parents,
- Roommates, and
- Individuals who live in the same house.
Texas law defines dating violence as any act or threat of violence by an individual in a dating relationship that causes or intends to cause injury or bodily harm against another person in a dating relationship.
If you have been the victim of family violence or a family or household member has alleged family violence against you, it is essential to contact an experienced family lawyer in Houston to represent your best interests.
Houston Protective Order Lawyer
If a protective order has been requested against you, or you are seeking a protective order in Houston, or any of the surrounding areas in Texas, including Spring, Humble, Tomball, Aldine, Atascocita, Klein, Jersey Village, The Woodlands, Conroe or Oak Ridge North, contact the law offices of Wilhite & Lea, P.C. The attorneys of Wilhite & Lea are knowledgeable in all areas of Texas family law and will make every effort to help you avoid a protective order or assist you in applying for a protective order. Call Wilhite & Lea at (281) 537-2171 for a free consultation today about your protective order needs.
Houston Protective Order Process
An individual who is seeking a protective order will begin the application process by filing an application through an attorney in the county where they or the alleged offender live. A petitioner, or the individual who requests the protective order, is also commonly known as a complainant or the applicant. A respondent is the individual who the protective order is requested against, or the alleged domestic offender or family violence offender.
Any of the following individuals can file a request for a protective order:
- A prosecuting attorney,
- An adult member of the family or household,
- An adult on behalf of a child, or
- The Texas Department of Human and Regulatory Services.
The application for a protective order should include the name of the petitioner and their county of residence; the name, address and county where any alleged family violence offender resides; the relationship between the alleged offender and the applicant; and that a protective order is requested.
Once a petitioner files an application for a protective order, the judge will set a hearing date within 14 days of the date of filing. If the judge determines there is immediate danger, they can issue a temporary protective order, which is valid for 20 days. A final protective order is valid for one year.
At the hearing, the judge will listen to both the petitioner and the respondent’s sides and any witnesses they may have, in addition to examining any evidence the parties may present. If the respondent does not appear at the hearing, but the petitioner does, the judge will issue a default protective order. This means the protective order will be issued against the respondent. If the petitioner does not appear at the hearing, but the respondent does, then the judge will not issue a protective order.
A final protective order will prohibit the respondent from:
- Committing additional acts of family violence,
- Harassing or threatening a petitioner or child covered by the protective order, and
- Going to a school or day care that the protected child attends.
Terms of a Houston Protective Order
According to the Tex. Family Code §§ 85.021 and 85.022, the respondent to a protective order must abide by certain requirements to the protective order and is also prohibited from committing certain acts. A protective order in Houston can require the alleged offender to not:
- Threaten anyone protected by the order or any family member or household member protected by the order;
- Possess a firearm;
- Go to or near the residence, child-care facility or school of a protected child;
- Go to or near the residence of anyone protected by the order;
- Go to or near the place of employment or business of anyone protected by the order;
- Communicate in any way with anyone protected by the order or any family member or household member of the individual protected by an order, except through an attorney;
- Communicate in a threatening or harassing way with an individual protected by the order or a family or household member of the person protected by the order; and/or
- Commit any further acts of family violence.
A protective order may also require the respondent to:
- Give up the use and possession of jointly owned or leased property or any community property;
- Pay child or spousal support to the petitioner or any other family or household members; and/or
- Temporarily give up parental rights of any children to the petitioner.
Protective Order Violation in Houston
Any respondent that has a protective order issued against them can be charged with a criminal offense if they violate any of the terms to a protective order under Tex. Penal Code § 25.07. For example, a respondent can be charged with a class A misdemeanor or a third degree felony offense if they knowingly or intentionally engage in any of the following acts:
- Commit any act of sexual assault, aggravated assault, stalking or any other domestic violence;
- Communicate in a threatening or harassing way with an individual protected by the order or any family or household member of a person protected by the order;
- Communicate in any other way prohibited by the order with an individual protected by the order or any family or household member of a person protected by the order;
- Go to or near any school or child care facility that a protected child attends;
- Go to or near the individual protected by the order’s residence or place of employment;
- Possess a firearm; or
- Threaten an individual protected by the order or any family or household member of a person protected by the order.
Wilhite & Lea, P.C. | Houston Restraining Order Attorney
Contact Wilhite & Lea, P.C. today for a consultation about applying for a protective order, possible protective order, or protective order questions in Harris County, Texas. Attorney C. Keith Lea of Wilhite & Lea is an experienced Houston family lawyer who will make every effort to help you achieve the most desirable outcome for your particular situation and represent you at your protective order hearing. Contact Wilhite & Lea, P.C. at (281) 537-2171 for a consultation about your protective order questions throughout Harris County, and the surrounding areas of Montgomery County, Washington County, Grimes County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.