How to File a Restraining Order in Houston Texas

By Rebecca Rogge
Restraining orders are issued to protect victims from violence.
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In Houston, Texas, a city in Harris County, there are two types of restraining orders available. Family Violence Protective Orders protect against actual, intended, or threatened physical harm or sexual assault by a family or household member or someone with whom you are in a dating relationship. Sexual Assault Protective Orders are similar, but protect against anyone who has committed sexual assault---a sexual act committed without your consent. Restraining orders are issued by judges, typically following a hearing at which both you and the alleged abuser have an opportunity to present your cases.

File an application for a restraining order. In Houston, Texas, you can file at the Harris County District Attorney's Office (Family Criminal Law Division), Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m.to 3:00 p.m. You can also go to the Houston Police Department (Family Violence Unit). You or the alleged abuser (respondent) must live in Harris County.

You will need to include: your name and county of residence; the name, address, and county of residence of the respondent; the relationship between you and the respondent; and a request for a protective orders.

The court will give you a hearing date within 14 days of application. A judge may also review your information and grant an immediate, temporary restraining order to protect you until your full hearing.

Terms of orders can include no-contact, custody grants, relinquishment of firearms, mandated counseling, vacation of a shared domicile, and any other terms a judge deems necessary to protect the plaintiff.

Wait for the respondent to be served with the notice of hearing. The court clerk will issue a Notice of Application for a Protective Order, and deliver it to the abuser. This notice informs the respondent of the allegations, the hearing date, and his right to an attorney. If you have a temporary restraining order, it is not effective until it has been properly served.

Prepare to present your case to the judge at the full hearing. You will need to explain your story and adequately demonstrate your need for protection. Evidence can include police or medical reports, dated photographs of injuries or damaged property, email or other written communication, or witness testimony. It can be helpful to practice telling your story to someone else, to help you present your case clearly and descriptively in front of the judge. Legal assistance can also be helpful, but is not required.

Attend the hearing and present your case to the judge. If you cannot be at the hearing, call the court in advance and ask to reschedule. If you do not appear, your temporary restraining order will expire and you will be left unprotected; it may also damage your credibility and make it more difficult for you to get a restraining order in the future. If the respondent does not appear, the judge may automatically grant your request, or may decide to reschedule the hearing.

Final protective orders are typically effective for two years.