Yes. Sexual assault by a stranger, relative, spouse or friend are all situations in which you may apply for a sexual assault protective order.
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- You can start by contacting your local county and district attorney’s office. They may apply on your behalf.
- Note: You may also contact the county or district attorney’s offices in the county in which the respondent lives or where the assault occurred. You are eligible to apply for a protective order in any one of these counties.
- You can also contact free legal aid organizations listed in our Legal Help directory they can apply for you as well.
- You can hire a private attorney to apply for a sexual assault protective order for you.
- You can also apply for a sexual assault protective order on your own with the forms included in this packet (this is called applying “pro se”).
- Yes. You can request that your home, work, school and daycare addresses and phone numbers be kept confidential. However, your county of residence will be disclosed through the application process.
- To make your information confidential, you should file a document called “Confidential Information Not to be Disclosed” and list the information you want kept confidential. This document is included in the Sexual Assault Protective Order Kit.
By law, you cannot be charged any court fees associated with applying for a protective order. This includes filing fees and court costs.
Note: If you hire a private attorney to represent you in a protective order application, you will have to pay that attorney their attorney’s fees.
The protective order is a civil lawsuit and criminal charges are separate, criminal court actions. Each case has different requirements and one does not affect the other, except that if a record is made in the protective order hearing, the criminal court can introduceyour previous sworn testimony into evidence.
For this reason, it is important to contact an attorney before filing a protective order. It is also important to review your statements before court and make sure you are consistent with each one. Court can be stressful, especially is your abuser is present. The more you review your statement before court, the better prepared you will be.
Also note, it is OK to say you don’t remember something if you really don’t remember it. Attorneys in court may ask you for many details that you cannot remember. It is better to say you don’t remember than to try and guess.
- It is best to keep a copy of the order with you at all times
- It is best that you bring a copy of the order to law enforcement in Texas so they can enter it into the state database.
- The terms of an out of state order are enforceable even if they are not exactly the conditions you would have gotten in Texas.
- Whether you have your order with you or have registered it with law enforcement or not: the order is still fully enforceable.
Under Texas law, it is sexual assault if anyone, male or female, made you have sex by using force or threatening to hurt you or someone close to you. Specifically, this can mean:
- Someone put their penis, finger or other object in your vagina or anus by using force or harm;
- Someone put their penis in your mouth by using force or threat of harm;
- Someone put your penis or vagina in contact with the mouth, anus, penis or vagina of any other person, by using force or threat of harm.
It is also sexual assault if anyone ever made you do any of these things while you were unconscious, drunk or otherwise incapacitated.
Furthermore, it is sexual assault if any adult (a person older than 18) had sexual contact with you when you were under the age of 17.
Texas law requires anyone who suspects that a child or other vulnerable individual is being abused or neglected must report such incidents. Texas Family Code Section 261.101(a) states “A person having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report…” Abuse or neglect can be reported at (800) 252-5400 or online at TxAbuseHotline.org. Not all calls to the hotline result in DFPS opening an investigation. If a call to the DFPS hotline leads to an investigation being opened, the following information is helpful.
One type of removal hearing in the immigration context is an individual hearing. During an individual hearing, your case is the only one scheduled. Before the hearing, you (or your lawyer) will submit evidence (in the form of documents) that you want the judge to consider when reviewing your application.
The judge will allot several hours to consider your application for relief (that is, the benefit that you think you qualify for that would let you stay in the U.S., if granted). During the hearing, witnesses may testify for you. The witnesses’ testimony and the type of evidence you submit depend on what kind of application you submitted (that is, the benefit you are seeking).
Several things can happen at the end of the individual hearing. If the judge needs more evidence or testimony, another individual hearing or a later master calendar hearing may be scheduled. If the judge needs time to consider the evidence and testimony, they might issue a written decision later, rather than announce their decision at the end of the hearing.
Finally, if the judge decides, they may announce the decision at the end of the individual hearing. If the judge announces a decision at the end of the hearing, you should get a one-page “Summary Oral Decision.” But, if the judge plans to decide later, that decision will likely be several pages long, with the reasoning behind the decision explained in detail.
There are two types of hearings in removal proceedings: master calendar hearings and individual hearings.
Master calendar hearing
Your first hearing will always be a master calendar hearing. You might have several master calendar hearings. Master calendar hearings are status conference hearings, or chances to share preliminary information with the judge so that the judge can decide how your case will move forward. During the first master calendar hearing, the judge will explain the charges brought against you, and tell you your rights. The judge will ask whether you agree or disagree with each allegation and charge in the NTA.
You have the right to a lawyer throughout removal proceedings—but the government won’t provide you with a lawyer, or pay for one. If, at your first master calendar hearing, you still haven’t been able to hire a lawyer, ask the judge for more time to find one.
The following people are classified as immediate relatives, and are not subject to the waiting period referenced here. They can apply for adjustment of status as soon as USCIS approves the I-130. They might even be able to file the I-130 and application for adjustment of status simultaneously.
- Spouses of U.S. citizens
- Parents of U.S. citizens
- Children of U.S. citizens who are unmarried and under 21 when the I-130 is filed
If you don’t fall into one of the categories mentioned immediately above, then you can’t apply for adjustment of status until your priority date is current—that is, until the government starts working on petitions filed on or before the date your petition was filed. Your priority date will be on your I-130 Approval Notice (Form I-797).
The second part of the process: Once the I-130 has been approved, you can apply for adjustment of status by filing Form I-485.
If you need help finding a shelter or other services, see TexasLawHelp's Domestic Violence. Free Legal Help for Victims and Survivors page.
There are several Texas-wide free, confidential resources that remain open and available to assist victims ofand sexual assault, such as:
- Texas Advocacy Project, 800-374-HOPE (4673)
- Texas Legal Services Center Crime Victims, (844) 303-SAFE (7233) (or contact them online through this form). Can file applications and assist with safety planning for victims who are not able to leave a dangerous living situation.
- The Network continues to provide legal assistance to sexual survivors. for Survivors of Sexual Assault
Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, which serves the Houston area, offers these resources.
- Surviving Domestic Abuse During “Stay Home” Orders: Tips on Staying Safe
- Resources for Survivors of During This Health Crisis
This video was created by . It addresses of Northwest Texas issues that come up during the COVID-19 crisis.
Any person who has standing to file a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship (“SAPCR”), Modification, or Enforcement can file a Motion for TRO. For information on standing, you can refer back to the Original SAPCR, Modification or Enforcement kits on TexasLawHelp.
Every case is different, but in general, the person filing the Motion for TRO is also the person who wants to have managing conservatorship of the child and who plans to keep them safe from the other parent or both parents.
There are several situations where a temporary restraining order can be filed, but the Temporary Restraining Orders, Temporary Injunctions, and Temporary Orders in Child Custody Emergencies toolkit is intended ONLY for an emergency situation where a child has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed and a protective order is not more suitable to protect the child.
A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is a court order that tells a person not to do certain things such as harming a child, leaving the state with a child, or being around a child.
The TRO kit could be useful in an emergency situation when you need a court order to protect a child quickly, but the child does not qualify for a protective order.
Note: If a child has been a victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or family violence, and is in fear of being harmed again or likely to be harmed again, a protective order may be another available legal option. A protective order may provide better protection than a TRO because it is criminally enforceable. However, a judge may not always be willing to grant a protective order to keep a child safe from a parent. This is because conservatorship (including TROs) can provide a lot of protection without completely cutting the parent out of the child's life. A protective order may not be appropriate for many situations where a child is in danger, such as where a parent has a substance addiction,lives in an unsafe environment, or is not providing for the child's basic needs.
But not all child abuse or child neglect situations meet all the requirements where a court is allowed to grant a protective order. If you have questions about whether a protective order is more appropriate to protect a child, please consult an attorney. Call the Family Helpline at 844-888-6565 with your CPS-related questions. Look for help at Domestic Violence: Free Legal Help for Victims and Survivors.
While most other family law issues require you to serve (give legal notice to) all other parents or conservators before you can set a hearing and talk to a judge, a TRO can be granted “ex parte”—meaning the other parent does not have to be given advance notice that you are asking the judge for a TRO. This means that a TRO can be granted by a judge very quickly—often on the same day that you ask for it.
A TRO is only good for 14 days, so it can work as a quick fix to address an emergency situation, and gives you some more time to serve the parents or other conservators, collect additional evidence, and set another hearing to talk to a judge.
The next hearing should be set within 14 days of when the judge grants your TRO, and will be your chance to ask the judge to convert the TRO into a temporary injunction, and to enter additional temporary orders for custody, visitation, and child support. This next hearing is also the other parent or conservator’s chance to come to court and tell the judge their side of the story and ask for something different.
According to Texas Family Code chapter 85.001, a court can grant a final protective order if the judge concludes that:
Family violence is likely to occur again in the future.
Family violence has occurred.
Family violence is defined as an act against a family member or household member against another family member or household member that does any of the following:
Intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault; or
Makes a threat that reasonably places the person in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault.
Based on the above, a threat is family violence as long as the threat reasonably places the person in fear of harm. A threat without any other supporting evidence may not be enough on its own for a protective order. It is completely dependent on the particular facts of each case.