We do get this question asked regularly: Is a Restraining Order the Same as a Protective Order here in Texas?
The answer is NO.
Restraining orders dictate what a person is legally allowed to do or not to do. There only apply to civil cases, not criminal cases. They are often used in divorce proceedings and concern one spouse or the other disposing of or moving items that are jointly owned in the marriage.
Blizzard and Zimmerman Attorneys represent defendants who have had unfair protective orders filed against them during criminal cases. In some cases, 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.
If you believe your accuser filed an unlawful protective order against you as one of these legal strategies you can hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you and take steps to deny the order’s existence.
What Can a Lawyer Can Do If You’re Subject to a Restraining Order?
Your attorney can help you petition to dissolve the restraining order filed against you by:
- Petitioning the Court for a hearing to discuss the merits of the order. This way you let the judge know, through your lawyer, what your case is all about.
- Requesting a modification to the order: In some cases, defendants can request a modification so the order is more limited in scope.
- Present your case to the Court: The attorney will:
- Collect evidence which can involve contacting eyewitnesses,
- Get copies of video,
- Review statements,
- Review domestic violence reports,
- Review police reports, etc.
Your lawyer would then present your case at trial to defend you against unlawful charges.
These are issued by the Court to protect family or domestic violence victims in criminal cases. These orders are different from the restraining order. Your alleged abusers to stop all violence or threats of violence against you, the victim. The alleged abusers must also respect boundary distances defined in the order (Ex: stay at least 500 feet away from your location) and avoid committing any form of harassment on the phone, verbally, or online.
You will generally file your application in the county where you or the abuser lives or in the county where the alleged abuse took place.
If there is a divorce case pending or another case involving a parent-child relationship: there you must file for the protective order in the court in which that case is pending, or in the court in the county in which you reside. A restraining order can help in a divorce when it comes to items that are jointly owned in the marriage
It’s recommended that you go to your local county prosecuting attorney and request a protective order, and if you are immediately threatened you need to ask for urgency. In emergency cases, a Judge will issue a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order that is only temporary. You may also see information on the Texas Protective Order kit below to do the process on your own.
The purpose of a protective order is to protect you until your court hearing. In domestic violence cases sometimes a Judge will order the other person to leave the home immediately and use this type of order. You will still have to come back to appear in a hearing where the Judge will decide the permanency of the order.
You can get a protective order if:
- Someone has threatened you or hurt you,
- You are afraid that you may be injured again, and
- Either you, your spouse, or your dating partner has a close relationship (married, close relative, living together, dating, or having a child) with the person who hurt you.
- If you have been sexually assaulted or stalked even if you don’t have a close relationship with the alleged assaulter or stalker.
In many counties, the county attorney or district attorney will help you file for a protective order and represent you in court.
If the county prosecutor will not file on your behalf, you can file for a protective order on your own.
So those are the differences between a restraining order and a protective order.
Blizzard and Zimmerman Attorneys can assist you with restraining orders in relation to your family law or divorce case. Call today for a one-on-one consultation with one of our attorneys.
Check out the links below to the Texas Courts Protective Order kit to file for a Protective Order on your own.
Link to Texas State Protective Order Kit
Texas Family Code – Protective Order