Family Violence

PROTECTIVE ORDERS (Family Code 71, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86 and 88)

Two-Year Protective Orders  

These criminally enforceable Protective Orders are available through the District Attorney’s Office to people who have been the victim of physical violence or the threat of imminent danger (the threat-maker has to be physically present and able to go through with the threat). These Orders are for victims of Family Violence or, in some cases, victims of sexual assault. The abuse or threat has to have been within the past 90 days. This order can direct the abuser to not commit any further acts of violence, to not threaten or harass you, and can direct them to leave your household. While the police department can help you with an Emergency Protective Order, it is up to you to go to the District Attorney’s Office and seek the Two Year Order. 

 People who can apply for Two Year Protective Orders:

  • Spouse
  • Ex-spouse 
  • Blood relative 
  • Relative by marriage 
  • Persons who had a child together 
  • Live-in boyfriend/girlfriend 
  • Members of the same household 
  • Persons dating/romantically involved 
  • Victims of Sexual Assault 

The steps to a Protective Order are: 

  • Go in person to your District Attorney’s Office in the County where you live.
  • Take photo identification with you. 
  • Have complete addresses where the allegedly abusive person can be served with notice of the hearing. 
  • Talk to an Advocate about the history of violence in the relationship and write a statement. List dates and details of abusive incidents from the past. 
  • A date for a hearing will be set for you to come to court for the hearing for finalizing the Order. 
  • A Temporary Ex-Parte Order of Protection will be given to you. It is not criminally enforceable unless the respondent has been served with notice of the order. 
  • The allegedly abusive person will be served with notice that they will have to come to court for the hearing. They may choose not to appear, and that would mean the Order would be granted by default. 
  • The day of the hearing you and an Assistant District Attorney will go before the judge for a hearing. If the judge agrees that there was family violence, you will receive a Protective Order. 
  • The Order will be for two years and will be renewable at the end of the two years if it is has been violated and if the allegedly abusive person has again been violent or threatening with you. 

* IMPORTANT: If you currently have a divorce pending or are in a child custody case, your personal attorney must seek the Protective Order in the court where your divorce or custody case is filed. (Family Code 82.005)

Local District Attorney’s Offices: 

The Denton County District Attorney’s Office 

Denton County Courthouse 

1450 E. McKinney Street, Third Floor 

Denton, TX 76209


For more information on Protective Orders, contact the agency's Crime Victim Liaison

Emergency Protective Orders (CCP 17.292)

Emergency Protective Orders are a shorter version of a two year Protective Order and are available to give victims of relationship violence the time to go to their District Attorney’s Office to ask for a two-year Protective Order. You do not have to wait for an arrest before asking the District Attorney to help you with a Two Year Order of Protection. 

Before an Emergency Order of Protection can be issued, the offender must be under arrest. 

These Emergency Protective Orders last from 31 to 91 days depending on the type of offense. They never last less than 31 days, but if a weapon was used in the offense, the Emergency Protective Order will usually last for 91 days. 

Emergency Orders tell the offender: 

  • Stay at least 500 feet from where victims live and work.  
  •  Do not commit any act of violence against anyone in the household.  
  •  Do not threaten, stalk or harass the person protected under the Order.  
  •  The Order tells the offender not to use a third person to threaten or harass the person protected by the Order.  
  • The Order means that if the offender is at the protected address for ANY reason during the time it’s effective, they will be arrested. 

If the offender breaks the Order, they can be charged with a separate offense called “Violation of a Protective Order” and they can face fines and imprisonment. Emergency Orders of Protection aren’t fool-proof. They tell the offender to stay away from your address at home and at work, but not your person. They aren’t a safety shield and victims must still be careful and plan how they will stay safe.

Victims of relationship violence need other services and help to stay safe from further victimization. Counseling, referrals for community assistance and even placements in shelter are options that victims may want to consider. 

If you decide you no longer want the Emergency Protective Order, you cannot just decide to ignore it. Only the judge who issued it or a higher judge can dismiss the Order. The law says “No person, including a person who is protected by this order may give permission to anyone to ignore or violate any provision of this order during the time in which this order is valid.” (See Section 17.292 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure) 

Harassment and Stalking (PC 33.07, PC 42.07, PC 42.061, PC 42.072)

Many times, after a divorce or breakup, people report that they are being harassed or stalked by a former acquaintance. If it is on-line Harassment, for it to be a crime, it must fit the descriptions set forth in Penal Code 33.07. This includes someone creating a web page or posting one or more messages on a commercial social networking site without the victim’s permission and with intent to harm, defraud, intimate or threaten. This definition also includes sending electronic mail, instant message, text message, or other communication that references a name, domain address, phone number or other identifying information about the victim, again, without their permission and with intent to harm or defraud. 

When harassment is by telephone or written means, there must be intent by the suspect to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment or embarrass another by initiating communication by telephone, writing or electronic communication where they make a comment, request, suggestion or proposal that is obscene; or threatens the person in a way that is reasonably likely to alarm the person (or their family or household). This can include repetitive calling, hanging up, and repetitive calls to the phone or the pager of the complainant. 

Many times persons who are reporting harassment lack sufficient information or evidence. Sometimes the acts of the suspect do not meet the criteria required to file a harassment case. 

If it is Stalking, which includes following the person around, it may be possible to obtain a Protective Order through your District Attorney’s Office. 

While it is frustrating, annoying and unfair to have to endure these types of communications, if you do not have a situation that meets the criteria of the offense of harassment, you may have to decide not to read that e-mail or answer that call. You should, of course, keep them in a format that will allow you to show them to the police as evidence when and if the actions of the suspect do meet the criteria of the offense.

Frequently Asked Questions About
 Family Violence
Why did you arrest him/her? I just wanted him/her to behave/leave/treat me better! I just called the police so they would document what he/she has been doing!
State law directs that Officers responding to Family Violence incidents SHALL make a written report. Officers have to take measures to protect the victim from further acts of violence. That means they take a report, investigate the crime that has been reported, and as a result may arrest the suspect in the case if they are still present or are located within a short time. They do not “document” things for other legal purposes and they cannot make people “behave.”
Why hasn’t he/she been arrested yet?
If the suspect was not at the scene and time has elapsed, the offense report will be given to a Detective to investigate the offense. This may take several days or weeks. If the investigation shows that an arrest is necessary, the Officer will seek a warrant. Finding the suspect may take weeks or months. If there is no arrest after a time, the warrant is sent to the County and is on the computer system there, accessible to other Law Enforcement Agencies so that if they interact with the person they can arrest on the warrant.
I did not want this order, so why did you do it? I want my spouse to come home!
In cases where weapons were used or serious injury resulted, Emergency Orders are often mandatory under State law. In some cases, where there have been many incidents of violence Officers or Judges may seek the Order on their own initiative to try to prevent more violence.
Why can’t an Officer stay with me while I get my property out of the house?
This is called a “civil stand by.” (CCP 5.045) Most police departments do not have enough Officers to have them stay at a location for the hours it might take someone to gather all their belongings. Officers may, at their discretion, give the victim time to gather enough items to enable them to get to a place of safety.
Why was CPS called?
Children exposed to violence are negatively impacted and often at direct risk of harm or even death. In many cases, we are required to report to agencies designated to assist children, disabled persons or elderly persons. (Family Code 261.101)
I want to drop charges. I want to visit him/her in jail. 
The victim is not the complainant in Family Violence cases. The State is. Many Police Departments have policies that prohibit dropping charges in Family Violence cases. The jail may have policies that prevent victims from visiting the person who is suspected of hurting them.
I made a report because I called the police. Where IS my report?
Calling the police is not “making a report.” There will be a record in the Dispatcher’s notes that you called, but the Officer that writes a report and gets an Offense number. will need a written affidavit from the victim telling their story of what happened. The Officer then gives the offense a title identifying what law was allegedly violated.
I want this person out of my house!
A protective order may help you have the person leave your house, or if it is a dispute and not a crime, it may involve seeking an eviction, which is a civil process. Evictions are usually pursued through a Justice of the Peace Court. Police Officers do not do evictions. You may need to pursue an eviction through your Justice of the Peace Office. You can locate more information on where to find Justice of the Peace Courts at these websites: Denton County, Tarrant County
I need to move but I have a lease.Victims of relationship violence who pursue Protective Orders may be able to terminate their leases early without penalty. (See Sec. 92.016 of the Texas Property Code)

Family Violence Resources

Denton County Friends of the Family 800-572-4031
Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233
Family Violence Legal Line800-374-4673
One Safe Place (Tarrant County)817-916-4323
Safe Haven (Tarrant County)877-701-7233
The Family Place (Dallas)214-941-1991