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Emergency Protective Orders

How EPOs (Emergency Protective Orders) Work

Attorneys contact victims of family violence within hours of their offenders' arrests to discuss their legal options and rights and provide them with safety planning and other resources.

First, an attorney conducts a "lethality assessment" with the victim.  A lethality assessment is a way to determine if a victim is in immediate danger.

After that, an attorney may recommend an Emergency Protective Order

Attorneys then take care of the entire legal process for getting the Emergency Protective Order in place.  They communicate requests for EPOs to the judges in charge, prepare the Orders, and advocate for the granting of the Orders. Attorneys follow up with the victims in answering questions about the Emergency Protective Orders.  They also help with any other legal problems the victim may be facing.

Attorneys train law-enforcement, victim services personnel, and shelter employees on the use of Emergency Protective Orders and the dynamics of domestic violence. Past trainings have included the Texas Sheriff's Conference and the Attorney General's Winter Conference, as well as year-round trainings with local law-enforcement and judiciary.

What is an Emergency Protective Order?

An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) is a criminally enforceable court order that can be issued to the abuser following an arrest on a family violence offense. The victim is not required to be present in court when the order is issued and there is no separate application process required of the victim.

How long does an Emergency Protective Order last?

The length of time the EPO lasts will vary depending on the circumstances. The magistrate may issue the order for a minimum of 31 days and a maximum of 91 days. When a deadly weapon has been displayed, the order must be issued for a minimum of 61 days.

How can I request an Emergency Protective Order?

An emergency protective order (EPO) is available only at the time of an arrest for a crime involving family violence or sexual assault. It is temporary and emergency in nature, and cannot be extended.

The EPO can be requested in the following ways: 

  • By the victim of the alleged family violence offense;
  • By a guardian of the victim;
  • By an attorney representing the state and 
  • By a peace officer.
  • The court may also issue the order on its own motion and, in certain circumstances, the order will be mandated by law.

To learn about other types of Protective Orders, please contact the Family Violence Legal Line at 800-374-4673.

Is there ever a time when the court says an Emergency Protective Order must be given?

An EPO is mandatory if the offender is arrested for an offense that involved either:

  • serious bodily injury as defined by the Texas Penal Code, or
  • the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon during the commission of an assault.

What does an Emergency Protective Order prohibit an offender from doing?

Committing family violence or an act in furtherance of an offense under 42.07(a)(7) of the Texas Penal Code (stalking)

  • Communicating directly with the victim or with a member of the victim’s family or household in a threatening or harassing manner; and/or communicating a threat through any other person to the victim or member of the victim’s family/household.

Going within a minimum distance (usually 200 yards) of the victim’s or member of the victim’s family’s:

  • Residence 
  • Place of Employment 
  • Child care facility and/or School and Residence if different than above.

Click the link below for more information on this topic

CLICK HERE To visit the Texas Advocacy Project Website

Frequently Asked Questions