Sabelhaus Lynch, PLLC

Should a protective order require a background check?

Hopefully you never need a protective order. Yet, there are times when you may need a legal deterrent for someone who has threatened to harm you or your family. There are times that these orders have made a difference in a dire domestic situation.

While protective orders can help, recent events have raised the question if process of obtaining one could be better.

Police arrested a Texas man for the murder of his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend in March 2019. The ex-girlfriend attempted to obtain a restraining order because she feared that her ex-boyfriend could cause her harm. Her verbal testimony made mention of her ex’s criminal history, but the judge denied the protective order because he was unaware of the ex-boyfriend’s background.

The couple’s families are now gathering signatures to pressure lawmakers to require background checks for protective orders. They believe the judge would have ruled in her favor if the judge had seen her ex’s criminal record first.

Under current Texas law, to get a protective order, a court must find that family violence has occurred and is likely to happen again without an order. This puts the onus on the petitioner of the protective order to, essentially, prove their case.

Proving the need for a protective order isn’t impossible but may be added duress in a difficult situation For instance, Texas courts recommend gathering photos, medical records and relevant witnesses for evidence. They also ask you to provide proof of income for both yourself and the other party. Some of these materials may not be readily available.

Considering protective orders come at times of emotional duress, asking you to compile substantial evidence and a crop of witnesses could add further stress. A background check could have the potential to take some pressure off you and provide a judge with more information for your case.

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