Tag Archives: Protective Orders

Protective Orders, Criminal Charges and Stalking: What You Should Know About the Legal Process

Texas law takes allegations of stalking seriously, and the consequences can affect your entire life. In Texas, stalking can be a third-degree felony. If convicted, you could face a sentence of between two and ten years in prison. You could also face a fine of up to $10,000.

Here’s what our experienced domestic violence defense attorneys want you to know.

How Is Stalking Defined Under Texas Law?

Texas Penal Code ยง 42.072 defines stalking as occurring when:

  • A person engages in a pattern of repeated behavior,
  • That behavior is directed at a specific person or their loved ones, and
  • That behavior would cause a reasonable person to feel afraid.

Given this broad definition, many different actions can be seen as stalking under the law. This includes threatening to hurt or kill someone, their family or their pets. This also includes asking someone else to make those threats for you.

Defending Against Stalking Allegations

As with all criminal charges in the United States, defendants are innocent until proven guilty. If you’ve been accused of stalking, you don’t need to prove anything. Instead, the prosecutor has the “burden of proof.” They must prove that your case satisfies all of the legal elements of the law to convict you.

Stalking cases can be difficult for prosecutors to prove unless they have physical evidence against you, like records of harassing texts and emails. One of the trickier elements of the case for them to prove is that a reasonable person would have been afraid.

If prosecutors fail to meet their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant may be found not guilty.

The Protective Order Process

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 7B allows people who believe they’re being stalked to seek a protective order against the alleged stalker. Unlike with domestic violence cases, there’s no relationship necessary.

Any person can seek a stalking-related order for protection against you, even if you’ve never dated, lived together, gotten married or had a police report filed against you. You can even have a protective order filed against you by someone you’ve never met face-to-face.

People who believe they have been stalked are often represented by legal aid offices or private attorneys, but some represent themselves. To obtain a protective order, they fill out an application and a supporting affidavit, a temporary ex parte order and a notice of a hearing.

These documents are then filed with a court clerk. They must also be served on you to be effective. If you are served, don’t ignore these papers. Violating a protective order, even accidentally, can mean serious trouble.

Accused of Stalking? Get Legal Help.

If you’re accused of stalking, you can always turn to our attorneys for help. Call our Fort Worth lawyers at 817-678-6771 or email us to set up a free and confidential consultation to discuss the situation.