Leading Community Efforts Against Domestic Violence Through Prosecution, Protective Orders, and Outreach
"Love Isn't Supposed to Leave Bruises."
For Protective Order Information: Click Here
Available Resources For Domestic Violence Victims: Click Here
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREVENTION
Our nation is finally beginning to realize the huge toll that domestic violence takes on our families, our communities, and our economy. The County Attorney aids in the prevention of domestic violence through legal representation of qualified applicants for protective orders, prosecution of domestic violence crimes, and community outreach. Domestic violence has gone on behind closed doors for too long. Our society can no longer tolerate the actions of those who would turn against their own families through violence.
Our goal is a team approach to combat domestic violence by making victims aware of the services available to them, pursuing protective orders to safeguard victims and their families, and using all of our resources and skills to prosecute defendants charged with family violence crimes.
FAMILY VIOLENCE PROSECUTION
Once law enforcement becomes aware of a possible criminal offense such as an assault, terrorist threat, or violation of a protective order, it becomes the duty of the prosecutor to go forward with the charges to see that justice is done. The victim of an offense cannot choose whether to “press charges” since the defendant is accused of committing a crime against the State. Only the State can dismiss a criminal charge. This office routinely prosecutes cases where the victim is unwilling to testify or cooperate with the trial.
If you have been a victim of domestic violence or any other criminal offense and you would like to contact the County Attorney’s office concerning the case, please call the Victim/Witness coordinator at 943-1111. A victim who wishes to file an affidavit of non-prosecution asking for the charges against a defendant to be dropped or lowered must come in person to our office and meet with the Victim/Witness Coordinator. Affidavits, of non prosecution, may be considered by the prosecutor, but there is no guarantee that such affidavits will affect the outcome of the case. Our prosecutors will not consider affidavits of non-prosecution submitted by the defendant or defense attorneys.
This Office handles a huge variety domestic violence cases. Assistant County Attorneys will look at the facts of each case, the prior criminal history of the defendant, the impact of the crime on the defendant’s family, and other factors when determining a plea bargain offer or a requested punishment at trial. Plea bargains and punishments in these types of cases can vary from voluntary counseling and dismissal of the charges all the way up to one year in jail. Community supervision or probation through the Williamson County Community Supervision and Corrections Department can offer the defendant a chance for rehabilitation while ensuring the safety of the victim. Effective prosecution of domestic violence cases requires frequent and early communication between the State and the victim as well as others affected by the crime. Please help us in our efforts to stop domestic violence in Williamson County.
YOU SHOULD NOT DELAY IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING A PROTECTIVE ORDER SINCE A LONG DELAY BETWEEN AN INCIDENT OF VIOLENCE AND THE PROTECTIVE ORDER APPLICATION MAY HURT THE CHANCES OF IT BEING GRANTED BY THE COURT.
What is a protective order?
A protective order is a civil court order issued against a person who has committed family violence. A protective order’s primary purpose is to prevent family violence from occurring again in the future.
Who is entitled to protection?
The applicant must be one of the following:
- A person who is related to the offender by blood or marriage
(including a former spouse);
- A person who is currently living in the same household as the offender, or has lived in the same household as the offender at some point in the past;
- A person who has had a child with the offender; or
- A person who has or has had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the offender.
Where can a protective order be filed?
A protective order can be filed in the county where the applicant resides or in the county where the offender (respondent) resides. An applicant can apply for a protective order through the County Attorney ’s office, a private attorney, through legal aid, or with a pro se packet, which is when a person files on their own.
Protective order process
If you or your child have been the victim of family violence the Williamson County Attorney’s Office may be able to help you file an application for protective order and represent you in court at the hearing. The hearing will normally be held two weeks after filing your application for protective order. The Court may issue a temporary protective order during the two week period before the hearing. The Respondent (the person you are seeking protection from) will be served with a copy of your application for protective order, your affidavit describing the family violence, and notice of the hearing. You will be required to testify at the hearing. After the hearing, the court will issue a final protective order if the Court finds that family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again in the future. A final protective order may be in effect for up to two years. If you have children, a final protective order may include orders regarding access to and possession of your children and child support. However, those orders will expire when the protective order expires.
AVAILABLE RESOURCES FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS
CRIME VICTIMS COMPENSATION:
You may be eligible for compensation of medical, hospital, or physical therapy bills, psychiatric care or counseling, loss of earnings or support, loss of wages due to the prosecutorial process, and care of a child, among others. You may also be eligible for one-time relocation expenses. The Attorney General’s Office decides whether or not you are eligible, and you must use their forms.
To find out more, contact the Texas Attorney General’s Office CVC Division at 1-800-983-9933 or 1-512-936-1200.
The Hope Alliance (formerly the Williamson County Crisis Center) offers emergency shelter, individual and family counseling, support groups, accompaniment to court and to law enforcement agencies, transitional housing, professional training, a thrift store, and more.
To make an appointment with Hope Alliance, call 512-255-1212.
TEXAS HOUSING RIGHTS:
A Protective Order may allow you to legally break your lease, if you need to move in order to stay safe. Information about Texas Property Code Section 92.016 which covers this can be found at the following websites: www.legalmomentum.org under “Violence Against Women” then “Employment and Housing Rights for Victims of Domestic Violence” or www.capital.state.tx.us under “Statutes” and then “Property Code”.
TEXAS UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE RIGHTS:
If you feel you must find another job in order to stay safe, you may be able to file for unemployment benefits. Information regarding Texas Labor Code Sections 207.045 and 207.046 can be found on the following websites: www.legalmomentum.org under “Violence Against Women” then “Employment and Housing Rights for Victims of Domestic Violence”, or www.twc.state.tx.us then use the “Search” feature and type “207.046”. You can also contact your local Texas Workforce Commission office.
The Political Asylum Project of Austin (PAPA) provides free and low-cost legal services for immigrants in Central Texas. They can provide information on U-Visas, which provides a specific avenue for immigrant crime victims to avoid deportation and obtain lawful immigration status, and can help with referrals to social and legal service agencies.
To contact PAPA, call 512-478-0546.