An Emergency Protect Order is a court order issued to prevent continuing acts of family violence. “Family Violence” means: (1) an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault or that is a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself; (2) abuse, as that term is defined by Sections 261.001 (1)(C), (E), and (G), by a member of a family or household toward a child of the family or household; or (3) dating violence, as that term is defined by Section 71.0021. An Emergency Protective Order does not guarantee against future violence, but it gives law enforcement authority to arrest the individual if he/she violates the order. A violation of a Protective Order is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by confinement not to exceed one year and/or a maximum fine of $4,000.
The Emergency Protective Order prohibits the offender from:
- Committing further acts of family violence,
- Communicating with you or a member of your household in a threatening or harassing manner or communicating a threat through any person,
- Going within a certain distance of your home, job, childcare facility, or school where your children attend.
Victims of family violence are entitled to the maximum protection from harm or the threat of harm. This is your right!
Who Can Get an Emergency Protective Order?
Emergency Protective Orders can only be obtained if the offender has been arrested and is in custody. It is only available if family violence (or stalking) has occurred and is likely to occur again in a family or household. The victim must believe they are in threat of imminent danger!
You are eligible to apply for an Emergency Protective Order if you and the offender:
- Are related by blood or marriage,
- Are currently living together or have lived together in the past,
- Dating relationship
- Have had a child together.
Victims of sexual assault are eligible for Protective Orders without regard to the relationship between the applicant and the alleged offender. If an offense involves stalking, stalking victims may apply for a protective order.
How to Apply for an Order
Youmust request an Emergency Protective Order to the officer taking the report. This must be filled out while the suspect is still in custody. The following persons can fill out the application:
- The victim,
- Guardian of victim,
- Peace officer,
- Prosecuting Attorney for the State
The application will then be delivered to the jail. The Justice of the Peace will review the papers and decide whether to issue or not issue the Emergency Protective Order. You do not need to be present when the magistrate signs the order.
The Emergency Protective Order was designed to protect you during the period of time you would obtain a regular Protective Order. Prior to this, victims were “on their own” while the Protective Order was being processed. All victims of family violence, sexual assault and stalking are urged to make an appointment with the Women’s Crisis Center immediately so that your permanent Protective Order will be ready when the Emergency Protective Order expires. Even if you do not acquire an Emergency Protective Order you can still apply for a Protective Order. Call the Women’s Crisis Center at: (979)531-1300 to schedule an appointment. After intake with the Women’s Crisis Center, you will be referred to the County Attorney’s Office for final preparation of the legal paperwork for Court. A permanent Protective Order is good for up to two years and is renewable. The County Attorney’s Office does not charge for this service.
What Other Options are Available?
Remember that a Protective Order does not offer total protection. No piece of paper can protect you against all acts of violence. If you feel you are in serious danger, it is best to go to a women's shelter or other anonymous location. We can refer you to a shelter in your area.
If you do not meet the requirements to receive an emergency or permanent Protective Order, consider applying for a Peace Bond. This is issued through the Justice of the Peace. Violations do not result in arrest, but are handled through the civil court. The purpose of a Peace Bond is to protect a person who is being threatened. The offender has to put up money, which goes to the state if the threat is carried out. Peace Bonds are for people who are not or never have lived together and who were never married.