How to Obtain a Restraining Order in Houston: A Step-by-Step Guide

Understanding the importance of personal safety and legal protection is crucial.

How to Obtain a Restraining Order in Houston
How to Obtain a Restraining Order in Houston

This guide provides clear instructions for obtaining a restraining order in Houston, ensuring that you can protect yourself and your loved ones from harm.

 ALSO READ: How to Obtain a Restraining Order in California? A Step-By-Step Legal Guide

What is a Restraining Order?

A court issues a restraining order, also called a protective order, to shield individuals from harassment, threats, or harm by someone else.

Types of Restraining Orders in Houston

In Houston, Texas, there are several types of restraining orders, also known as protective orders, that individuals can obtain for their protection. Here’s a detailed look at each type:

Types of Restraining Orders

1.Emergency Protective Order (EPO)

An Emergency Protective Order is issued immediately following an arrest for family violence, sexual assault, stalking, or trafficking. It’s designed to provide quick protection and typically lasts between 31 and 91 days.

2.Temporary (Ex Parte) Protective Order

It’s is a short-term measure granted when the court believes the applicant is in immediate danger.

3.Final Protective Order

After a court hearing that allows both parties to present their cases, the court may issue a Final Protective Order.

This order has a more lasting effect, potentially remaining in force for up to two years, with options for extension if needed.

4.Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection (MOEP)

A magistrate issues a Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Protection, akin to an EPO, subsequent to an abuser’s arrest.

This order can extend protection for a duration surpassing that of an EPO, generally spanning from 31 to 61 days, and in instances of severe bodily harm, it can last up to 91 days.

5.Protective Order for Victims of Sexual Assault or Abuse, Stalking, or Trafficking

This order is specifically for victims of sexual assault, abuse, stalking, or human trafficking.

It can be issued regardless of the relationship between the victim and the abuser.

6.Workplace Violence Protective Order

Each type of restraining order has specific eligibility requirements and legal implications.

Steps to Obtain a Restraining Order in Houston

Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining a Restraining Order

Step 1: Determine Eligibility

Ensure that you are eligible for a protective order.

Step 2: Contact the Appropriate Office

You can apply for a protective order by contacting:

  1. Your local county or district attorney’s office.
  2. Your local family violence shelter.
  3. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) to find the nearest one.
  4. Your local legal aid office for assistance.
  5. A private attorney who specializes in family law.

Step 3: Fill Out the Application

Download and fill out the protective order application. Applications are available in both English and Spanish from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office website.

Step 4: Document the Abuse

Prepare a detailed statement about the abuse, including dates, times, and the nature of the violence or threats.

This documentation will be crucial for your case.

Step 5: File the Application

Submit your filled-out application to the family court in the county where you or the abuser live, or where the abuse happened.

Step 6: Attend the Hearing

After filing, a court date will be set. Attend the hearing and present your evidence.

A judge will review the case and decide whether to grant the protective order.

Step 7: Service of Process

If a court grants a protective order, the authorities will serve it to the abuser, notifying them of the legal duties and limitations they are required to follow.

Step 8: Enforcement

If someone violates a protective order, law enforcement officers have the power to arrest and charge the individual with a criminal offense.

It’s also important to be aware that filing, serving, or getting extra certified copies of the protective order incurs no fees.

For more detailed information and assistance, you can reach out to the Family Violence Unit at the Houston Police Department at (713)-308-1100 or the Harris County District Attorney’s Office – Domestic Violence Division at 713-274-0212.

How long does it take to get a restraining order?

The duration to secure a restraining order in Houston can fluctuate based on the case specifics.

Typically, securing a protective order might take three to five weeks.

Firstly, this procedure entails initiating a lawsuit in family court, awaiting a judge’s review and issuance.

During this interval, your presence in court to deliver testimony is mandatory.

Concerning a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), the law mandates a hearing within 14 days post-issuance.

Nonetheless, the court issuing the order may prolong this timeframe by an extra 14 days.

It’s crucial to commence the process promptly should you deem protection necessary.

In the interim, should immediate danger be perceived, promptly engage local law enforcement or Houston’s domestic violence support services.

Is there a cost involved?

There are no fees for filing a restraining order in Texas.

Can I obtain a restraining order without a lawyer?

Yes, but legal assistance is recommended. Organizations like AVDA provide free legal representation.

What if the abuser violates the restraining order?

When an abuser in Houston violates a restraining order, it constitutes a serious offense with significant legal consequences.

Violating a restraining order is a criminal act that can lead to arrest, charges, and potential conviction, which may result in fines, jail time, or both.

1. Arrest

Law enforcement officers may arrest a violator without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that the individual has violated a restraining order.

This proactive measure ensures immediate response to such violations, emphasizing the seriousness of adhering to legal restrictions imposed by restraining orders.

2. Criminal Charges

The severity of the violation and any prior offenses determine whether the violator will face criminal charges, which can vary from a Class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.

3. Legal Consequences

If convicted, the violator could face penalties including fines, probation, mandatory counseling, community service, or imprisonment.

The precise sanctions are contingent on the violation’s details and the applicable local statutes.

4. No Bail

If a judge deems that a violator presents an immediate threat to the victim, law enforcement can detain the violator in jail without bail until the trial. This action underscores the gravity of the violation and the protection of the victim’s safety.

5. Enhanced Penalties

When a violator accrues two or more previous convictions for breaching a protective order, they are committing a third-degree felony.

Finally, this crime can result in a prison term of 2 to 10 years.

 

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