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A protective order is a civil document that was designed to keep a victim of family violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking safe from their abuser. It is a criminally enforceable court order, which means that the abuser can be arrested and charged with a criminal offense for violating the order.
The Family Code defines family violence as an act committed against a family member, household member, or individual involved in a dating relationship. The act is intended to cause physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault. It also includes threats that place the individual in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault. Mental and emotional abuse are not included as a part of the definition of family violence.
To qualify you must be a victim of family violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking. In order to file through the Williamson County Attorney’s Office, you must be a resident of Williamson County; or the respondent must be a resident of Williamson County; or the incidents leading to the protective order had to occur in Williamson County.
The Penal Code defines stalking as a course of conduct or scheme directed specifically at another person that occurs on more than one occasion. The conduct must be threatening bodily injury or death, threatening damage to the person’s property, or engaging in the criminal offense of Harassment. Harassment is defined as making obscene comments or proposals, threatening the individual, causing the telephone of another to ring repeatedly, or sending repeated electronic communications.
There are several terms and conditions that can be included in a protective order and not all orders look the same. Typically, the order includes no contact or communication with the applicant, the respondent must stay away from the applicant’s home and place of employment, and the respondent cannot possess a firearm.
An applicant seeking a family violence protective order must meet the definition of family in the Family Code. This includes spouses, ex-spouse, current or previous dating relationships, family members by blood or marriage, individuals that have a child together, and individuals that currently or previously have lived together. A victim of sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking can get a protective order against any abuser regardless of the relationship, even acquaintances.
While the County Attorney’s Office does recommend that you report any criminal offense to law enforcement, we do not require Applicants to have made any police reports or want to press charges to obtain a protective order.
There is no cost to Applicants to obtain a protective order and all necessary legal services are provided free of charge.
A Temporary Ex-Parte Protective Order is obtained without service to the respondent. It can last for a maximum of 20 days. To obtain a Final Protective Order the respondent must be served and must have the opportunity to appear in court. Typically, the Temporary Ex-Parte Protective Order and the Final Protective Order contain the same provisions. Both orders are criminally enforceable if violated.
Each case is different, but the application process can take as little as a day or up to a few weeks depending on the facts and required documentation. Once a protective order is filed it will take a minimum of two weeks. However, it can take longer if we are unable to locate and serve the respondent or if the court date is reset.
Yes, to obtain a protective order the Applicant will have to appear in court. Staff members can talk further with you about what that looks like and safety precautions we take to ensure your safety.
Typically, a Final Protective Order in a family violence case is two years. However, in certain situations it can be issued for up to a lifetime. Final Protective Orders for sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking can also be issued up to a lifetime.
If you are interested in applying for a protective order or have additional questions please contact the Williamson County Attorney's Office during normal business hours on weekdays, 8 am to 5 pm, excluding county holidays. Please note that intake process can take up to 3 hours.
Williamson County Attorney's Office405 M.L.K. Street2nd Floor, Courthouse Annex BuildingGeorgetown, Texas 78626
Email Victim Services.