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Domestic Violence & Protective Orders
Are You in Need of a Protective Order?
Too often in my practice, I meet couples who have had a long history of inflicting physical harm or bodily injury upon one or both of the parties. Either gender can be a victim. We hear about domestic violence on the news way too frequently and many incidents go unreported, often out of fear and intimidation. Texas courts will not tolerate any family violence.
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As a family law attorney, I will not tolerate it either and will take all steps available to protect my client and his/her children. The last thing I want to read about in the paper is my client or their child has been a victim of such violence.
The Court can enter a protective order that prohibits one person from committing family violence against another. The protective order usually goes so far as to prohibit one person from even going near the other person's residence or place of employment. A copy of the protective order is given to the police and recorded in their computer database. It includes the following language:
"VIOLATION OF A PROTECTIVE ORDER IS PUNISHABLE BY A FINE UP TO $5000 OR CONFINEMENT IN JAIL FOR UP TO ONE YEAR OR BOTH. FURTHERMORE, IT IS UNLAWFUL FOR ANY PERSON WHO IS SUBJECT TO A PROTECTIVE ORDER TO POSSESS A FIREARM OR AMMUNITION. ALSO, NO PERSON, INCLUDING A PERSON WHO IS PROTECTED BY THE ORDER MAY GIVE PERMISSION TO ANYONE TO IGNORE THE PROTECTIVE ORDER."
The applicant to the Protective Order cannot waive the requirements of a protective order. If he/she invites you over for dinner or to meet at a local restaurant, as soon as you arrive, the applicant to the Protective Order can call the police and off to jail you go - it is no defense that the applicant invited you over. If you have been served with a Protective Order and the applicant invites you over, DO NOT GO. You are not only violating a court order, but you will most likely be arrested. This ability of the police to arrest you on the spot is the difference between a protective order and an injunction, the latter of which can only be enforced by going back to court complaining of the violation.
If you have been involved in family violence, either as a victim or as the alleged abuser, I urge you to get professional counseling. Professional counseling can break the cycle. Also, please let me know the details so we can discuss a protective order, and whether your specific facts qualify you for a protective order.
Domestic Violence Facts
Domestic Violence is on the rise in the United States. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Over the course of a year, that amounts to more than 10 million people. And the numbers are not isolated by gender. One in four women and one in nine men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, and post traumatic stress disorder.
One in three women, and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. One in seven women and one in twenty-five men have been injured by an intimate partner.
19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime, of which a vast majority were conducted by their current or former intimate partner.
And the statistics don’t stop there. One in fifteen children are exposed to intimate partner violence, with 90% of those children observing the violence first hand.
How to Seek a Protective Order in Houston
If you have been a victim of domestic violence, stalking or sexual abuse, you should seek a Protective Order. There are many ways one can seek help and referral to obtain a protective order in Texas, such as contacting:
Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse at 713-224-9911;
Area Women’s Center at 713-528-2121;Houston
Harris County District Attorneys Domestic Violence Division at (713) 274-0212; or
Contact and hire Michael Von Blon Board Certified Family Law Attorney.
There are different types of protective orders for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking. A protective order can order the abuser to: (1) not hurt, threaten or harass you, your children or other household members, either directly or through another person; (2) to stay away from you, your family, your home, workplace and your children’s daycare or school; and (3) not carry a gun, even with a license.
Additionally, the Judge can:
Set terms and conditions for visitation with the children, such as at a facility providing for supervised visitation;
order the abuser to attend anger management classes;
order the abuser to submit to drug testing;
order the abuser to attend a substance abuse treatment program; and
order the abuser out of the home (commonly referred to as a “kick out order”).
Evidence for a Protective Order
The type of evidence and proof you must show a Judge to obtain a protective order depends on the type of protective order you are seeking. For example:
for a family violence protective order, you must show that violence or a threat of violence has occurred in the last thirty days and that it is likely that violence will continue in the future;
for stalking, sexual assault, and human trafficking protective orders you must be able to prove the abuser committed either stalking, sexual assault or trafficking, as defined by statute.
Family violence includes not only violence committed by a family member, but violence committed by any intimate partner, including dating violence and violence between same-sex partners. If you have been a victim of family violence/domestic violence, you should contact a board certified family lawyer to assist you in obtaining a protective order to protect you and your children from future violence. Don’t delay in applying for a protective order. You should apply right after the violent incident, as waiting will reduce your chances of obtaining protective order since the Judge must consider whether the threat of immediate danger has passed.
How to Document Domestic Violence Abuse
Prior to consulting with a lawyer, you should do everything you can to document the abuse, such as:
photograph the injuries;
call law enforcement and report the abuse; and
save any evidence of threats, such as voice messages, texts and emails.
If you are fearful of the abuser knowing your address, in severe cases, the court can keep your home address and work place address confidential.
Remember, abuse runs in three phases. Phase one consists of the tension-building stage. Phase two is the acute battering stage, where the abuser has uncontrollable discharge of tensions that built up during phase one. Phase three is the kindness and contrite loving phase where there is an unusual period of calm, and the abuser behaves in a charming and loving manner until the tension begins to build, leading back to phase one and the repeating of the cycle of abuse. You are not alone. There are resources for you, some of which are:
National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-7233;
Child and Adult Protective Services Hotline (Texas), 800-252-5400 and;
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Hotline, 800-656-4673