How Long Have You Handled Protective Orders?
I have been involved with those from the very beginning, twenty five years ago and it has been a constant evolution. The way we present the evidence. How we look at it, the necessity of it. Protective order is a unique beast in Texas and when I say beast, it is a beast because there are so many facets to it. We had to go through the police department and, the county attorney’s office to ask for protective orders and then you have this process of waiting there all day trying to get it and then it became more involved in domestic cases that we file for divorce, child custody issues, it really has evolved. We have legal aid societies that are involved with all this and we have realized the importance of having to do so. How it is so important to give somebody some temporal timely protection, to allow them to breathe and start making the best decisions they can for their long term future for themselves, family and their pets. Pets are a big part of who we are and so we protect them as well.
What Actually is A Protective Order In Texas?
A lot of people just describe it as a piece of paper. Those are the people who want to minimize the effect. A protective order is much more than a piece of paper. It is an order signed by a judge who has read accusations and entered a temporary ex parte protective order where somebody comes up with an affidavit to the judge; can you hear this case and look at witnesses. We need this person protected, and the judge will enter it. It is something on an affidavit that somebody has alleged domestic violence it supposedly occurred either to a family member, or someone in a dating relationship, this is extremely important.
These people are connected, we need to separate them. If a law enforcement agent comes across and finds out that the order has been violated, he does not have to call anybody. He can look at the protective order and take immediate action to remove that threat not only from the scene, but place that threat behind bars until we can sort it out. So it is a judge directing involvement of law enforcement for the protection of an individual, the individual’s family and their pets.
Are There Different Types Of Protective Orders?
Absolutely. When you are accused of an offense, say a domestic violence offense, the officer will get statements, he will talk to the alleged victim about the offense and he will enter a mandatory order of emergency protection. When I say enter, he spills it out. When the JP comes in our area, it is a JP and other areas around the state, it is a municipal judge, they will arraign that individual who has been accused of the crime, they will look at the affidavit, they will not look at the witness statement, but the affidavit of probable cause and they will enter a magistrate’s order of emergency protection and that is good from sixty to ninety days.
It says these people, they do not contact each other in the bad way, but absolutely the aggressor cannot go over there. When I say aggressor, the accused aggressor does not have any contact with this person in any way and if they have contact through different agents or friends or family, as long as it is not in a threaten manner. Then you have the protective orders that go along with domestic cases and that is where we file for divorce, we file a child custody case and we say to the judge there has been a complaint of domestic violence in this relationship and for their protection we need to separate these people immediately and schedule for a hearing in ten to fourteen days and then let you hear the evidence and see if you want to have a final protective order.
In Texas, we can have them up to two years or lifetime. Remember you are not entitled to a jury. This is simply a judge doing this and while there is not an appellate mechanism, there is a mechanism to have them reviewed by the court of appeals. But, if the plaintiff is able to prove the case, you lose the ability to have firearms, you lose your ability to work in a lot of different fields based on the opinion of one person and that is very rare, extremely rare and this is really the only example you are going to come across in our justice system.
Who Do You Represent in These Cases?
I represent both sides. When I say both sides of a domestic case; somebody who has been accused of domestic violence, we respond, we file our request for divorce, our request for the children and we simply defend those facts presented to us the best we can. If it is a criminal case, then we are representing the defendant. We never represent the state and their pursuit of protective order against an individual.
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