The internet is full of misinformation. This is no different when it comes to protective orders. Whether you need help with planning for your safety as a relationship comes to an end or you have been served with an application for a protective order you need sound legal advice.
Because each situation is different, speaking with an attorney can often save you time and frustration spinning your wheels with Google searches. It is also the only way to avoid mistakes. Here are a couple myths about protective orders (POs).
Abuse must be reported to the police before requesting a PO
This is incorrect. Testimony from the person applying for the PO is generally sufficient. Because those who have experienced family violence or sexual abuse often hide what is happening or may be too afraid to report it, there are rarely witnesses or medical records. You may be able to use texts, social media posts or other evidence, however, if it exists.
For someone who is challenging a PO it may come as a surprise that corroborating evidence is not required. In some situations, defenses may exist if there is any indication that the request was made to gain an upper hand in a family law case.
The court requires physical violence before granting a PO
Again, this is not true. Texas statute includes threats that place a victim in "fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault."
This can sometimes prevent an escalating situation from becoming violent. What is a sufficient threat to place someone in this level of fear? The facts of each situation are closely reviewed by a judge on a case-by-case basis.
Each judge must decide many cases each day. Because of this, it is important to seek assistance from a skilled attorney, who can present your strongest case whether you are seeking or opposing a PO.
An Affidavit of Non-Prosecution prevents a court from granting a future PO
This is false. If a victim decided not to proceed with a criminal case or participate with prosecutors, it can be considered when later requesting a PO. This fact alone, however, does not prevent someone from asking for protection again in the future.
The issues that lead someone to seek a PO may dovetail with criminal court matters. Because of the interplay between family law and criminal law, speaking with an attorney familiar with both courts and processes can be an advantage.
When threats and/or violence enter a relationship, act quickly to find a solution but also seek strategic counsel before taking the next step.