How Many Protective Orders are Granted in Travis County?
A Protective Order is a court order issued by a judge to protect victims of family violence. The judge decides, with the petitioner’s input, what rules the respondent has to follow during the period the order is in effect. If the respondent violates these rules they may be arrested. The order will command the abuser/respondent not to hurt, verbally threaten, go near the home or work of, or follow the victim. As part of the order, the respondent may be required to attend counseling, pay child support, or follow a child visitation plan.
Individuals seeking a protective order in Travis County have three options: 1) represent themselves, 2) hire a private attorney, or 3) seek a nonprofit agency that provides free representation.
In the past, backlogs at the Travis County Attorney’s Office have resulted in a waitlist of hundreds of domestic violence survivors seeking protective orders. Previously, backlogs have been about 25 order applications long, but since the Covid-19 pandemic, that number has grown at times to as long as 250.
In early 2022, it was taking over a month to screen applicants. Travis County responded by adding additional staff, which helped to shorten wait times. Additionally, CAO partnered with SAFE to conduct safety planning calls with applicants. As of January 2023, the wait time for such a call was 7 days. Most applicants are processed within three.
Unfortunately, COA can’t take on every case and therefore we need community legal partners such as the Austin Community Law Center. There is a much higher demand for protective order representation – particularly free legal representation through legal aid or through the county – than there are attorneys.
The core of ACLC’s mission is to make legal services radically more affordable, so that everyone can have access to justice. We charge sliding-scale fees based on our clients' income.