How To Lift an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) Associated with a Texas Domestic Violence Case?
If you were arrested for Assault (Family Violence), chances are that you also received an Emergency Protective Order prohibiting you from going within 500 yards (or similar distance) from the “victim’s” home or workplace, along with other conditions for a period of 31, 61, or 91 days depending on the nature of the alleged assault. Protective Orders can cause big problems, especially when the two parties live together in the same house and share childcare and other family responsibilities.
Can I Lift The Emergency Protective Order So That I Can Go Home?
Yes, you can (in most cases). We are asked this question on a daily basis. A spouse that was arrested for Domestic Violence has been forced to leave the family home because of the EPO. EPOs, however, do not relieve people of their daily responsibilities to take care of children, go to work, or provide for their families. An EPO can certainly throw a wrench into a family dynamic.
We help families modify protective orders to allow a defendant to return home. We do not typically request that the entire EPO be lifted completely, only amended.
Amending an EPO is Not the Same Thing as Lifting an EPO.
So what’s the big difference in lifting an EPO versus amending an EPO. Most judges will not agree to completely lift an EPO, because, as they see it, there was likely a good reason for the imposition of the EPO in the first place. Additionally, in almost every scenario, the District Attorney’s office will oppose lifting the EPO. However, many judges will agree to amend or modify an EPO and change some of the conditions. Usually, if the victim requests it, a judge will amend the protective order to allow the defendant to return home or resume contact with the complainant and the family. However, the remaining conditions, usually involving not committing family violence or threatening the victim, remain in place for the duration of the protective order.
What are the Steps to Amending a Protective Order in Fort Worth?
First, it is important to know that all jurisdictions handle protective orders differently. For instance, the Fort Worth Municipal Court handles protective orders differently from Tarrant County Criminal Court #5. Some courts prefer to hold a formal hearing and others do not. However, in all cases, we request the following:
- An Affidavit from the Victim Requesting a Change of the Protective Order: This can be drafted and signed in our office, but the victim must be present and indicate that this is what he/she wants. In our experience, if the complaining witness does not want the EPO changed, then the judge is not going to change it.
- A Motion to Modify the Protective Order: We draft and file the motion with the court having jurisdiction over the EPO. Texas law requires that we allege 3 things in our motion and that the judge find those 3 things to be true before he/she can modify the EPO:
- (1) The current EPO is unworkable;
- (2) Modification of the EPO will not place the victim in a greater risk of harm; and
- (3) Modification of the EPO will not result in harm to any person protected under the order.
- An Affidavit of Non-Prosecution: This is not a required document, but we allow victims to sign an ANP in our office if they request it. They may end up having to sign another ANP with the prosecutor, but we like to give them the opportunity.
- Formal or Informal Hearing with the Presiding Judge: Some courts will require an actual hearing with witnesses before deciding whether to modify an EPO. Other courts simply prefer the verified documentation and an informal meeting with the state and the defense.
- Filing the Amended Order with the Arresting Agency and Sheriff’s Office: If the judge agrees to amend the protective order, we send a copy of the signed order to the defendant, the complainant, the arresting police agency, and the local sheriff’s office. We also advise our clients to keep a copy of the order near the front door in case a nosy neighbor decides to call the police believing that the EPO is being violated.
I Have an Emergency Protective Order. How Do I Get Started in Amending the Order?
If you have an EPO that was issued against you in response to an allegation of Assault (Family Violence), give us a call today to see if we can assist you in getting the order amended so that you can return home to your family. Every case is different, so we want to speak with you and learn more about your situation. This article will not apply to every case, so call us today at (817) 993-9249. We offer Free Consultations in every case with no obligation.