Family Criminal Law
Where are you located and what are your hours?
- We are located in the Criminal Justice Center (Criminal Courthouse), 1201 Franklin, 2nd floor, Suite 2160.
- Our interviewing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. However, we work on a first-come, first-served basis. To have the best chance of being seen, please arrive as early as possible.
I am coming to your office to speak with a caseworker about a criminal case and/or applying for a protective order. What information do I need to bring with me?
Here are some things you can bring with you, if they are available:
- Your picture I.D.
- Pictures of any injuries.
- Names and contact information for any witnesses.
- Address for the Respondent for a protective order.
- Any evidence that you may think is important for us to know.
- Medical records of injuries you received from assaults.
What is a protective order and how can the District Attorney’s Office help me obtain one?
- A protective order is a lawsuit that is filed in family court (like a divorce).
- A protective order can tell the Respondent to stay away from your home, workplace, and your children’s school/daycare. It can tell the Respondent not to harass, stalk, or threaten you. If the Respondent does these things in violation of the order, the Respondent can be charged with a criminal offense and arrested.
- Generally, once granted, a protective order is valid for two years.
- You can apply for a protective order through the District Attorney’s Office, or if you have already filed for a divorce, you can ask your attorney to file one on your behalf.
- When you come to our office to apply for a protective order, you can meet with a specially trained family violence caseworker or social worker and she will review your case.
- If you initially qualify for the order, the caseworker will type your statement and a file will be prepared for review by a prosecutor.
- After the prosecutor approves the filing of the order, the application is filed in family court.
- You will then receive a letter about your court date.
- There are several things that must be proved or happen to obtain a protective order:
- The District Attorney’s Office must have jurisdiction. That means that either you or the Respondent (abuser) lives in Harris County. Note: It does not count if one of you only works but does not live in Harris County.
- You must have had a dating, family, or household relationship with the Respondent. That includes current spouses, former spouses, blood relatives, people related by marriage, household members, or people who dated.
- We have to be able to personally serve (give notice) to the Respondent about the protective order hearing. This is why we must have an address to serve the Respondent. The Respondent can be served at home, at work, at a probation or parole appointment, or during a court date.
- We must be able to prove that family violence occurred. Family violence means that you were assaulted (includes hitting, kicking, punching, hair pulling, slapping, punching, strangulation, shooting, stabbing, forcing to have sex, etc) and/or that you were threatened with bodily injury (the Respondent said they would kill you, hit you, pointed a gun at you, etc).
- We have to show that family violence is likely to continue in the future. This means that based on the Respondent’s past behavior, we think that he won’t stop threatening or hurting you.
- A divorce cannot be pending. That means that no divorce is actually filed. If you have already filed a divorce, you can ask your attorney to file a protective order for you.
What is the difference between a restraining order and a protective order?
A protective order is only available for people who have experienced dating or family violence and it can lead to criminal penalties (the Respondent/violator can be arrested) if violated. A restraining order can be ordered by a court for many different types of situations and only has civil penalties if violated.
I dated someone for six months and ended the relationship. Now the person keeps calling me and begging me to come back; can I get a protective order to make her stop?
- Unless there has been family violence, then no, you will not qualify for a protective order.
- You can make a police report about the harassment and your ex-partner can be investigated for harassing you.
If I apply for a protective order, will I leave your office with one?
No. Since a protective order is a lawsuit that is filed in family court; we cannot issue one immediately. However, we will give you safety information and work on other options to help keep you and your family safe.
What is a temporary protective (ex-parte) order?
A family court judge issues a temporary (ex-parte) protective order when we file your application for the protective order. It goes into effect when the Respondent is served and expires after a certain amount of time. Police may not arrest someone for violation of a temporary ex parte order. They may be able to make an arrest for criminal trespass if the facts support that.
How can I file charges for a family violence criminal offense?
- If you need help right away, call 911.
- If you want to report a crime that has already occurred, or if you want to follow-up on filing charges, you must contact the law enforcement agency that responds to the area where the alleged crime occurred. (For instance, if you were assaulted in the City of Houston, contact the Houston Police Department.)
- Contact the law enforcement agency listed below for case investigation and, if appropriate, filing charges.
- Baytown Police Department 281-425-1050 or 281-425-1051
- Harris County Constable 713-755-5000 (main Harris County Number – can refer you to appropriate constable precinct)
- Harris County Sheriff’s Office – 713-967-5743
- Houston Police Department – 713-308-1100
- Humble Police Department – 281-446-7127
- Pasadena Police Department – 713-477-1221
- Other – There are many other police agencies in Harris County. Call the District Attorney’s Office if you need help determining which agency responds to your incident – 713-755-5888.
I want to bring my friend to apply for a protective order, but she doesn’t speak English. Does your office provide interpreters?
- We will make every effort to communicate with victims/survivors in family violence cases.
- We have caseworkers who speak Spanish and Vietnamese.
- We have written information available in several other languages.
- If your friend can bring an interpreter, that would be helpful.
- If your friend cannot bring an interpreter, we can use a special language line to communicate in almost any language.
- If your friend can bring an interpreter, that would be helpful.
I have an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accommodation request; what can be done and who can assist me?
- The office is wheel-chair accessible.
- For hearing impaired complainants, contact us and we can arrange for a sign interpreter at no charge to you. You can contact us via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or you can call via Relay Texas (1-800-735-2988).
- For other accommodations, e-mail or call us for information.