If you want to file a restraining order in Texas, you must:
- Go to the local courthouse of the district where you live or the district attorney’s office.
- Fill out a restraining order application.
- Wait for the judge to review your application and answer any questions when prompted.
- Tell the judge if you face imminent danger.
- Attend the court hearing about your restraining order.
Rules 680 and 683 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure provide more information about restraining orders in Texas and the legal steps you must perform for approval of your petition.
Is a Restraining Order the Same as a Protective Order in Texas?
No. While many people use “restraining order” and “protective order” interchangeably, they serve different purposes in separate courts:
- Restraining orders: These documents dictate what a person is legally allowed to do or not do. Restraining orders never apply to criminal cases but arise often in civil cases, such as when both parties want to divide assets during divorce proceedings.
- Protective orders: These documents protect family or domestic violence victims in criminal cases. They require alleged abusers to cease all violence or threats of violence against the victim. Abusers must also respect boundary distances defined in the protective order (e.g., at least 500 feet away from the victim’s location) and avoid committing any form of harassment.
What Kind of Protective Order Can Someone File in Texas?
If you are the victim of domestic or family abuse in Texas, you can file for the following types of protective orders:
- Temporary ex parte: Victims who face immediate danger from their alleged abusers can file for a temporary restraining order (TRO) ex parte, or for the benefit of one party (the victim) alone. Texas Family Code § 83 defines which actions are prohibited by the abuser while a TRO is in place. These orders generally last 20 days but can be renewed upon request.
- Permanent protective orders: These are long-term, generally lasting up to 2 years, as defined in Texas Family Code § 85.025. However, the alleged abuser can petition to have the protective order lifted after 1 year. To do so, both parties must attend a hearing about the order.
- Emergency protective orders (EPOs) or magistrate’s order of emergency protection (MOEP): If law enforcement arrests an alleged abuser and charges them with family or domestic violence, an EPO may be sent to them to keep them away from the victims for 31 to 91 days. The criminal court system issues this type of protective order per Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 17.292 as opposed to the civil court system, so an arrest is required.
Can a Defendant Fight an Unlawful Restraining Order in Texas?
Yes. Criminal defense law firms regularly represent defendants who have had unfair protective orders filed against them during criminal cases. Some accusers use protective or restraining orders as a tactic to gain leverage against the accused during other types of family law matters, such as divorce proceedings or child custody disputes.
Suppose you believe your accuser filed an unlawful protective order against you as a legal strategy. In that case, you can hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you and take steps to refute the order.
What a Lawyer Can Do for You If You’re Subject to a Restraining or Protective Order
Your attorney can help you petition to dissolve the restraining or protective order filed against you by:
- Filing a legal motion in court: Through this motion, your lawyer would petition for a court hearing date to discuss the merits of the order. This hearing allows you to present your case via your lawyer to a judge.
- Requesting a modification to the order: In some cases, defendants can request a modification to the order so that it is less harsh or broad. For example, if an order affects your ability to see your children, your lawyer may advocate for your right as a parent and request supervised time with your children.
- Presenting your case in court: Collecting evidence in family or domestic violence cases can involve contacting eyewitnesses, getting copies of video footage, and reviewing domestic violence reports. Your lawyer can investigate your case to retrieve this evidence, then present it at trial to defend you against unlawful charges.
Call the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg to Defend Your Rights
If you face family or domestic violence charges and your accuser has filed a restraining order against you, our legal team at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg wants to review your case. An attorney from our firm could help you reduce or eliminate your charges and petition for a lift of the restraining order made out against you if it affects maintaining relationships with your children, other family members, or friends.