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Protective Orders 101

In today’s environment where law enforcement may not be as responsive as you may expect, a person should be aware of the protections that a Protective Order may provide.   No protective order is going to be one percent effective or protect a person from the malfeasance of another person especially in a divorce or custody situation.  However, every effort must be made to protect the family or the individual from a dangerous person.

How long does a Protective Order last?

Except as otherwise provided by law, an order under  is effective for the period stated in the order, not to exceed two years; or if a period is not stated in the order, until the second anniversary of the date the order was issued.

The court may render a protective order sufficient to protect the applicant and members of the

applicant’s family or household that is effective for a period that exceeds two years if the court finds that the person who is the subject of the protective order:

(1) committed an act constituting a felony offense involving family violence against the

applicant or a member of the applicant’s family or household, regardless of whether the

person has been charged with or convicted of the offense;

(2) caused serious bodily injury to the applicant or a member of the applicant’s family or

household; or

(3) was the subject of two or more previous protective orders rendered:

(A) to protect the person on whose behalf the current protective order is sought; and

(B) after a finding by the court that the subject of the protective order:

(i) has committed family violence; and

(ii) is likely to commit family violence in the future.

(b) A person who is the subject of a protective order may file a motion not earlier than the first

anniversary of the date on which the order was rendered requesting that the court review the protective order and determine whether there is a continuing need for the order.

Following the filing of a motion for a Protective Order, a person who is the subject of a protective order issued under Texas law that is effective for a period that exceeds two years may file not more than one subsequent motion requesting that the court review the protective order and determine whether there is a continuing need for the order. The subsequent motion may not be filed earlier than the first anniversary of the date on which the court rendered an order on the previous motion by the person.

After a hearing on a motion, if the court does not make a finding that there is no continuing need for the protective order, the protective order remains in effect until the date the order expires. Evidence of the movant’s compliance with the protective order does not by itself support a finding by the court that there is no continuing need for the protective order.

If the court finds there is no continuing need for the protective order, the court shall order that the protective order expires on a date set by the court.

If a person who is the subject of a protective order is confined or imprisoned on the date the

protective order would expire, or if the protective order would expire not later than the first anniversary of the date the person is released from confinement or imprisonment, the

period for which the order is effective is extended, and the order expires on:

(1) the first anniversary of the date the person is released from confinement or imprisonment,

if the person was sentenced to confinement or imprisonment for more than five years; or

(2) the second anniversary of the date the person is released from confinement or imprisonment, if the person was sentenced to confinement or imprisonment for five years or less.

As soon as practicable after the release of a person who is the subject of a protective order

from confinement or imprisonment, the Department of Public Safety shall update the statewide

law enforcement information system maintained by the department to reflect the date that the

order will expire following the person’s release.

How is the Protective Order delivered to the individual?

A protective order  shall be delivered to the respondent as provided by Rule 21a, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure; served in the same manner as a writ of injunction; or served in open court at the close of the hearing as provided by this section.

The court shall serve an order in open court to a respondent who is present at the hearing by

giving to the respondent a copy of the order, reduced to writing and signed by the judge or master. A certified copy of the signed order shall be given to the applicant at the time the order is given to the respondent.

If the applicant is not in court at the conclusion of the hearing, the clerk of the court shall mail a

certified copy of the order to the applicant not later than the third business day after the date the hearing is concluded.

If the order has not been reduced to writing, the court shall give notice orally to a respondent

who is present at the hearing of the part of the order that contains prohibitions  or any other part of the order that contains provisions necessary to prevent further family violence. The

clerk of the court shall mail a copy of the order to the respondent and a certified copy of the order to the applicant not later than the third business day after the date the hearing is concluded.

If the respondent is not present at the hearing and the order has been reduced to writing at the

conclusion of the hearing, the clerk of the court shall immediately provide a certified copy of the order to the applicant and mail a copy of the order to the respondent not later than the third business day after the date the hearing is concluded.

Applying and service of a Protective Order is not a simple process and should be avoided by a person attempting to do it themselves.   It is always best to have an attorney assist you with securing a Protective Order.

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