• July 5, 2017

New Laws in Texas to Prevent Domestic Violence

New Laws in Texas to Prevent Domestic Violence

New Laws in Texas to Prevent Domestic Violence 150 150 Elect Todd Hunter

New Laws in Texas to Prevent Domestic Violence

Prior to the 85th Legislative Session, the frequency of domestic violence cases increased in the Coastal Bend. Several local organizations and my office worked diligently to create new laws to help protect victims and end domestic violence. The Texas Legislature passed some new laws. The following three laws will be highlighted.

One issue addressed was the duration of protective orders for victims of domestic violence. Currently, the longest protective order a victim can obtain lasts up to two years. To receive this protection, the offender that the victim is seeking protection from must have two prior protective orders or if the offender caused serious bodily injury to the victim. We amended the current statute to allow judges to extend the length of protective orders and changed the requirements, as well. Beginning September 1, 2017, a victim may receive a protective order if their attacker committed a felony offense involving family violence (like aggravated assault or destruction of property) against the person applying (victims’) family or household, regardless of whether the attacker has been charged with or convicted of the offense at the time of the application. This law helps protect the victims of domestic violence as they are going through the court process. If you are interested in more information on this bill, visit Senate Bill 712.

Protecting the victims of domestic violence involves physical protection and protection of their information. Until this bill was passed, victims’ home addresses were not required to be classified as confidential, causing victims’ information to be published in public records (like property tax appraisal records or voter registration rolls). This loophole enabled offenders to track down, stalk, or even harm their victims again. To address this loophole, the Address Confidentially Program was created. Beginning September 1st, 2017, the home address of any person eligible for a protective order for family violence, sexual assault, trafficking, or stalking can be classified as confidential within tax appraisal and voter registration records. To learn more about this legislation, visit Senate Bill 256.

Domestic violence, also known as family violence, affects not only adults, but children, too. For example, violence can occur during child custody exchanges. To protect the children and prevent further victimization, we increased the number of hours of family education in the fields of: family dynamics, child development, and family law. If these courses are completed, a person may be appointed as an impartial third party caregiver during custody cases where the parent-child relationship is in question. This legislation will take effect on September 1st, 2017. To learn more about this bill, please visit Senate Bill 539.

The upcoming Special Session will give the Texas Legislature the ability and time to address the twenty distinctive issues the Governor has identified. Within those thirty days, we will work diligently to ensure the State is taken care of and protected. If you would like to stay informed on what occurs during the Special Session beginning July 18th, please visit Texas Legislature Online.

If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).

– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32

Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at todd.hunter@house.texas.gov or at 512-463-0672