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  • Writer's pictureBrad Thornton

San Antonio Family Violence Lawyer: Navigating Protective Orders in Texas

As a seasoned criminal defense attorney based in San Antonio, Brad Thornton is dedicated to helping individuals and families facing challenging legal situations. In this article, we will shed light on the different types of protective orders and the potential consequences for violating them. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of these crucial aspects, you can make informed decisions to protect your rights and ensure your safety.


Understanding the nuances of protective orders is essential for anyone facing charges for family violence. This article will explore the three primary types of protective orders prevalent in Texas: Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs), Temporary Ex Parte Protective Orders, and Final Protective Orders. We will delve into the specific criteria for obtaining each type of order, the procedures involved, and the duration of their effectiveness.


It is vital to recognize that violating a protective order can have severe consequences. Texas law imposes strict penalties for violating these orders, which can include fines, imprisonment, or additional legal consequences. By familiarizing yourself with the potential repercussions, you can make informed decisions and take proactive steps to prevent any inadvertent violations.


With this comprehensive guide, Brad Thornton aims to empower individuals facing family violence cases to navigate the complex landscape of protective orders in Texas. By understanding the different types of orders and the potential consequences for violations, you can protect your rights, ensure your safety, and make informed decisions throughout the legal process.


Emergency Protective Orders in Texas


Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs) are court-issued orders that provide immediate protection to victims of family violence in Texas. It is important to note that a Magistrate's Order of Emergency Protection can only be issued after an arrest has been made in connection with a family violence offense. The purpose of an EPO is to establish legal boundaries and prevent further harm or contact between the parties involved. By obtaining an EPO, victims can seek safety and begin the legal process of holding their abusers accountable.


EPOs are available in various types of cases where family violence is involved. These cases include offenses such as family violence, trafficking and continuous trafficking, sexual assault, indecent assault, aggravated sexual assault, and stalking. The availability of EPOs in these cases aims to provide immediate protection and support to victims, ensuring their safety and well-being.


In cases involving serious bodily injury or the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon, law enforcement officers are mandated by law to request a mandatory EPO to prioritize the immediate safety of the victim. On the other hand, discretionary EPOs can be sought by eligible individuals, including victims of family violence, prosecuting attorneys, and peace officers.


The length of an EPO in Texas varies depending on the circumstances and the discretion of the court. Typically, an EPO remains in effect for a period of up to 31 days; however, the court may extend the duration of the EPO to up to 61 days. It is crucial to understand that the court has the authority to determine the appropriate length of the EPO based on the specific circumstances and the need for continued protection. In cases involving a deadly weapon, the court can extend the duration of an EPO beyond 61 days, up to a maximum of 91 days.


Modifying or Removing and Emergency Protective Order in Texas


Modifying an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) can be a challenging process due to judicial hesitancy and procedural hurdles. Judges are generally reluctant to lift a protective order, even if requested by the victim. However, they may be more open to considering modifications to the order. Despite this possibility, there are several obstacles to navigate when seeking a modification.


One significant challenge is that the magistrate who initially issued the EPO is unlikely to make changes to it. Typically, you will need to wait until the case is filed in a county or district court, which can take weeks. Once in court, if the prosecution is unwilling to agree to the modification, it is probable that the judge will schedule a hearing to address the matter.


However, due to the court's busy docket, it is possible that the hearing may not occur until the end of the EPO's duration. Consequently, from a practical standpoint, changing an EPO, even with the support of the alleged victim, can be an arduous task.


Temporary Ex Parte Protective Orders in Texas


Temporary Ex Parte Protective Orders are court-issued orders designed to provide immediate protection to family or household members who are facing a clear and present danger of family violence. These orders are granted without the presence or notification of the alleged perpetrator, prioritizing the safety and well-being of the applicant and their family members. Unlike EPOs, these types of protective orders can be issued at any time their requirements are met and do not require the filing of a criminal case.


Temporary Ex Parte Protective Orders can be granted when there is a clear and present danger of family violence. According to Tex. Fam. Code § 83.001(a), these orders are intended to protect the applicant or a family member who is at risk of harm. To grant such an order, the judge must find that there is sufficient evidence of a clear and present danger of family violence. This determination is made based on the information and evidence presented to the court.


Temporary Ex Parte Protective Orders are typically effective for a period of up to 20 days. However, upon request, the court may extend the duration of the order for an additional 20 days. It is important to note that the duration of these orders may vary depending on the specific circumstances and the discretion of the court.


An Ex Parte Protective Order imposes certain restrictions and provisions to ensure the safety of the applicant and their family members. These orders can include various provisions, such as prohibiting the alleged perpetrator from contacting or approaching the protected individuals, maintaining a certain distance from their residence, place of employment, or other specified locations. Violating the terms of an Ex Parte Protective Order can result in serious legal consequences for the alleged perpetrator.


Permanent (Final) Protective Orders in Texas


Final Protective Orders are court-issued orders intended to provide long-term protection to victims of family violence. Unlike temporary orders, final protective orders have an extended duration and can significantly impact the lives of both the victim and the alleged perpetrator. These orders aim to establish boundaries, prevent further harm, and promote the safety and well-being of the victim and any other affected family members.


To obtain a Final Protective Order, certain requirements must be met. The victim must provide evidence and convince the court that family violence has occurred, and there is a credible threat of future harm. Family violence offenses can include physical abuse, sexual assault, stalking, or other acts that pose a risk to the victim's safety.


Final Protective Orders typically remain in effect for a period of up to two years. However, in certain circumstances, the court may extend the duration of the order. This extension may occur if the judge finds that the alleged abuser committed a family violence offense, caused serious bodily injury, or if the victim has been subjected to two or more protective orders in the past. The court has the discretion to determine the appropriate duration based on the specific circumstances of the case.


Modifying or removing a Final Protective Order can be a complex process. Generally, the victim or the alleged perpetrator may petition the court to modify or terminate the order. However, the burden of proof lies with the requesting party to demonstrate that a change in circumstances justifies the modification or removal.


Distinction Between Protective Orders and Conditions of Bond


It is crucial to understand the distinction between Emergency Protective Orders (EPOs) and conditions of bond in family violence cases. While both serve to address safety concerns, they operate under different legal frameworks and have distinct implications.


Protective Orders are court-issued orders designed to provide immediate protection to victims of family violence. They are separate from conditions of bond, which are set by the court as a condition of pretrial release for the defendant. EPOs primarily focus on protecting the victim and establishing boundaries to prevent further harm, while conditions of bond are intended to ensure the defendant's compliance with legal obligations and appearance in court, but still routinely impose the same or similar conditions as a protective order


EPOs are typically sought by eligible individuals, such as victims, prosecuting attorneys, or peace officers, after an arrest has been made in connection with a family violence offense. On the other hand, conditions of bond are imposed by the court during the pretrial phase and may include requirements such as no-contact orders, mandatory counseling, or restricted access to firearms.


While both EPOs and conditions of bond aim to address safety concerns in family violence cases, it is important to recognize their separate legal aspects and implications. Violating an EPO can result in serious consequences, including additional charges and potential imprisonment. Violating conditions of bond can lead to the same consequences as violating an EPO but can also lead to the revocation of bond and potential re-arrest.


Family Violence Attorney Brad Thornton


San Antonio Family Violence Attorney

If you or a loved one are facing a family violence case and require guidance and representation, it is crucial to seek professional legal assistance. Navigating the complexities of protective orders and the legal implications surrounding them necessitates the expertise of an experienced criminal defense attorney. By securing dedicated legal counsel, you can protect your rights, understand your legal options, and work towards a favorable outcome.


As a seasoned criminal defense attorney in San Antonio, Texas, Brad Thornton offers his clients comprehensive legal support and advocacy. With a background as a former prosecutor and board certification in criminal law, he brings a unique perspective to the table. Brad Thornton's in-depth understanding of both sides of the legal system allows him to craft effective defense strategies and provide strategic counsel tailored to each client's specific needs.


To schedule a free consultation and learn more about how Brad Thornton can assist you with your family violence case and protective orders, please contact his office at 210-439-5627. The initial consultation provides an opportunity to discuss your situation, evaluate your options, and determine the best course of action moving forward.


Remember, protecting your rights and securing experienced legal representation is paramount in family violence cases. Reach out to Brad Thornton today to ensure your case is handled with the utmost care and expertise.

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Attorney Brad Thornton is a highly experienced and Board-Certified criminal defense lawyer. With his background as a former Chief Prosecutor, he has a unique understanding of the criminal justice system and is able to provide comprehensive and effective representation to his clients. He is also deeply committed to ensuring that all individuals receive fair treatment in court, regardless of their background or circumstances.

Brad Thornton is dedicated to helping his clients achieve the best possible outcome for their case, whether it is in San Antonio or elsewhere in South Texas. He recognizes the stress and anxiety that can come with being accused of a crime, and approaches his clients with compassion while keeping them informed at every step of the process. His knowledge and experience make him a strong advocate for his clients.

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Atascosa County Criminal Defense Attorney

San Antonio Office:

111 Soledad, Suite 401

San Antonio, Texas 78205

Tel: 210-439-5627

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Pleasanton, Texas 78064

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