Bond Conditions and Protective Orders
As a condition of release, the judge can place any condition to ensure the safety of the community, or to secure the return to court. A good attorney will work to tailor the conditions as narrowly as possible, but depending on the situation, they cannot always be avoided entirely. Some common conditions are discussed below.
1. Stay Away Order. A Stay Away Order means that you cannot come within a certain distance – like 200 yards – of a person – usually the CW. The Stay Away Order can also specify no communication between parties, but not always. Unlike an emergency Protective Order (discussed below), the Stay Away order as a bond condition does not expire unless the judge orders it or the case is disposed. However, your attorney can request that the judge remove the order. Usually this requires the cooperation of the CW.
It is extremely important to note here that it is the responsibility of the subject of the Stay Away order to maintain distance. If the CW has changed their mind and they want to be back together, this does not terminate the order. The CW cannot consent to waive the order. If you are found together, you will be in violation of the stay away order whether the CW wants you to be charged or not. If you want to get the order removed and you both agree, talk to your attorney. Only a Judge can remove the order.
2. Ankle Monitor. This is a device that locks around your ankle and monitors your location by GPS. It’s very invasive, but fortunately, many judges are willing to have it removed if you’re able to have no violations over a certain amount of time – often 60-90 days. If you do have violations, like gaps where the device was not kept charged, or a visit to the CW’s residence, the monitor may stay on while the case is pending.
3. “Cooling Off Period”. The judge may sign a bond, but require you to stay in custody for a few days. This allows the situation to cool down, and sometimes gives the CW a chance to gather her things and settle somewhere else if they shared a residence.
4. Counseling. Almost every case will involve a requirement to go to DV counseling. An assessment determines which class will be assigned, and the number of hours can range from 8 to 30 or even 52 weekly sessions.
Emergency Protective Order
An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) can be requested by the CW or by the police. They don’t need the cooperation of the CW in all cases. However, the judge will sometimes take it into account when deciding whether to grant it. An EPO works almost exactly like a Stay Away Bond Condition, except that it expires in 90 days.
Protective Order Hearing
The EPO can be extended. Two years is common, but it can extend to be a lifetime PO. To transform the EPO into a more permanent Protective Order, the accused must be served notice and given a hearing.
You will not automatically be given a lawyer at the PO hearing, but you can hire one. It’s a good idea to hire a lawyer because, in addition to challenging the PO, it is possible to question the CW under oath. His/her answers will be recorded on a transcript and can be used in the criminal case.
There are several ways a CW can prove up the facts necessary for a PO. The most common way involves showing the Court enough evidence to make a finding that:
1. Domestic violence occurred, and
2. It will occur in the future.
Note here that it’s not enough just to prove up that an incident occurred. There must also be evidence that it might happen again in the future.
If you do not show to the hearing, usually a default judgment will be entered. The judge will typically grant the PO if the accused is not there to challenge it. For this reason, it is a very bad idea to ignore the hearing once you have received notice. Even if you have to take a day off of work or make other arrangements, make your best effort to show up to the hearing.
The hearing is often set in Travis County Court at Law #4, but may also be at the Civil Courthouse. Pay attention to details so that you don’t show up to the wrong court!
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