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Under current law a magistrate may prohibit the subject of an emergency protective order from committing certain criminal acts against the protectee, from communicating directly in a threatening or harassing manner with the protectee or a member of the family or household of the protectee, or for making a threat through any third party to the protectee or their family or household member. This is designed to prevent the subject of the emergency order from further assaulting, threatening, or intimidating the victim or the victim's family or household directly or indirectly through another person.
HB 1076 would add to the above protections by allowing a magistrate, if the magistrate finds good cause, to communicate in any manner whatsoever with the person protected under the order or with a member of their family or household except through the party's attorney or a person appointed by the court.
Note: Companion Bill SB 112 cleared the Senate April 13, 2015, and is identical.
This is an excellent bill to help protect victims from further assault, abuse, or intimidation at the hands of their assailant. Under current statute a magistrate may issue an emergency protective order at the arraignment of a defendant who has been arrested for sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, or stalking as defined under the Texas Penal Code. The additional provisions that would be made by this bill would increase the victim's right to not suffer further at the hands of an abuser. Furthermore, these additional provisions would only be allowed if the magistrate "finds good cause" which is a significant legal threshold to prevent an unnecessary burden on a defendant's rights.
This legislation would take a step to further protect the individual liberty of victims and to enforce personal responsibility on defendants who demonstrate an unwillingness to take that responsibility for themselves and pose a continuing threat to their victims. This also affirms our limited government principle by better enabling the judicial branch of government to secure the rights of victims. For these reasons we support HB 1076 and encourage its unanimous adoption by the legislature.