You deserve to live freely, confidently, and without fear. But when someone is stalking you, it can turn your life into a frightening and stressful situation.
If you’re here, it’s possible you’re worried that someone is stalking you, or you’re looking for ways to help a loved one facing this daunting situation. Our Collin County defense lawyers understand how deeply unsettling stalking can be. This blog aims to provide a comprehensive guide to help you address this difficult issue. We will walk you through the necessary steps to protect yourself physically and legally. Remember, help is always available, and you have the right to feel safe and secure in your daily life.
Texas Stalking Laws
The Texas Penal Code defines stalking as the crime of engaging in a pattern of behavior that they know or reasonably should know would cause one of the following outcomes:
- The behavior causes someone emotional distress
- The behavior causes someone to fear for their safety
- The behavior causes someone to fear for another person’s safety
Crucially, the law says the offender’s actions must focus on a specific person. Furthermore, there must be a pattern of behavior, so the police cannot arrest someone for stalking after a one-time event. Some acts that might qualify as stalking under Texas law include:
- Following someone or their friends and family
- Repeatedly trying to contact someone over the phone, through email, or using other means when the victim does not want that contact
- Watching someone from a distance without their permission
- Repeatedly sending someone unwanted gifts
- Tracking someone using a GPS device or other means
- Vandalizing someone’s property
- Implied or explicit threats
Bear in mind that stalking takes many forms, and just because you don’t see what someone has done to you on this list doesn’t mean they did not commit a crime.
How to Get a Protective Order in Texas
One way to handle a stalker in Texas is to get a Protective Order against them. A Protective Order is a decree from a District Court judge that typically says the following:
- The person stalking you cannot physically harm you
- The person stalking you cannot come within a certain distance of you
- The person stalking you cannot communicate with you, including using electronic means, in any way you find harassing or threatening
- The person stalking you must refrain from harassing, threatening, abusing, or bothering you
- The person stalking you cannot commit any of the previously listed actions against any members of your household
In addition to these effects, another benefit of getting a Protective Order against a stalker is that they can face criminal charges if they break the order.
Here’s how to obtain a protective order in Texas:
- Gather any evidence you have to support your claim, such as messages from your stalker, photos, police reports, etc. You’ll also need a valid state ID of some kind.
- Bring your evidence and ID to your local District Court. Once you arrive, you’ll need to complete an application for a protective order, which requires you to show you have reasonable grounds to believe someone is stalking you. Many courthouses have Victim Advocates who can help you with your application. You will also need to sign a sworn affidavit stating the facts of your case.
- A prosecutor will review your application and affidavit, then decide whether a Protective Order is justified. If the prosecutor accepts your application, they’ll forward it to a judge, who will also review the evidence. The judge will issue a Temporary Ex-Parte Protective Order if they believe you have sufficient evidence to justify the order. They’ll also schedule a hearing for a permanent Protective Order.
- The temporary Protective Order lasts 20 days. During that time, the person stalking you must be served with the order and your application. They then have a chance to respond and appear at your hearing.
- If the person stalking you agrees to the order, a permanent Protective Order will go to the judge for approval. If they disagree, there will be another hearing, during which witnesses for both sides have the opportunity to testify. The judge will then decide whether to issue the order.
Other Tips for Dealing With a Stalker
While getting a protective order against a stalker can be a big help, the legal process takes time. Here’s what you can do in the meantime to protect yourself:
- Avoid going out in public by yourself.
- Call the police right away if you feel in immediate danger.
- Keep a record of your stalker’s actions against you, as it can help you obtain a protective order.
- Take advantage of local resources, such as those offered by the Collin County District Attorney’s Office or the Collin County Sheriff’s Office.
Our Lawyers Are Here to Help
Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian knows the terror stalkers can inflict and want to help you restore peace and safety to your life. Our firm can handle the legal work of obtaining a protective order against your stalker and connect you with other resources in the area. Call (972) 369-0577 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.