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Texas

Local Resources

Stalking often occurs along with other crimes, like domestic violence and sexual assault. While there are no state coalitions for victims of stalking, many domestic violence and sexual assault programs are able to provide assistance. Many of the resources can be confusing to navigate, victim advocates are available to talk to you about address confidentiality and your states criminal and civil stalking laws. Victim advocates can also assist you with safety planning, keeping a log of stalking incidents, and how to be safe when using technology. Find services and/or an advocate in your county using the following links:

Address Confidentiality

Address confidentiality programs allow victims of stalking, sexual assault, domestic violence, or other types of crime to receive mail at a substitute address, which keeps their actual address private and prevents offenders from locating the victim through public records. Mail is sent to the legal substitute address, often a post office box, and then forwarded to the victim’s actual address. The substitute address can be provided whenever the victim’s address is required by a public agency.

Click here for more information on the Address Confidentiality Program in Texas.

Protection Orders

A protective order is a legal order issued by a state court that requires one person to stop harming and/or contacting another. Each state may have several types of protective orders: civil protective orders, criminal protective orders, or restraining orders, and they may have different names (for example, in Pennsylvania, there are “protection from abuse” orders). Some protective orders are specific to domestic and interfamilial violence, while others are broader, covering stalking, harassment, sexual assault, and other types of misconduct. An individual can get a protection order when the perpetrator is proven to have acted with intent to cause the victim emotional distress or fear for his/her safety, even when the perpetrator has not been charged or convicted. They permit the victim to call the police to have the abuser arrested if the abuser violates any part of the order.

Click here for more information on protection orders in Texas.

Criminal Stalking Laws

Criminal stalking laws define when a perpetrator may be charged with the crime of stalking, and what infractions are required to bring such a charge. The laws usually define various misdemeanor and felony offenses that correlate with the severity of the transgression. Based on police investigation, a state prosecutor will determine what charges to bring against an offender, and will then file charges against the perpetrator (formally known as an indictment). A trial typically follows, and the defendant may be offered a plea agreement. The criminal statute will also delineate potential punishments, if the perpetrator is convicted, which may include probation, house arrest, and incarceration, among others. Restitution may be requested and awarded to the victim by court order following a conviction, usually at a sentencing hearing.

Click here for more information on criminal stalking laws in Texas.

Civil Stalking Laws

Civil stalking laws allow victims of stalking to initiate a lawsuit to recover compensation from the perpetrator and any third party that may be responsible for the crime. In a civil lawsuit, there is no possibility of a criminal punishment; instead, the victim plaintiff is suing for actual harm (known as actual damages), punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs. Civil statutes also often provide for victims to obtain protective orders against the perpetrator.

Click here for more information on civil stalking laws in Texas.

National Resources

  • VictimConnect Resource Center - Confidential information, support and referrals for victims of crime via telephone, chat and text including safety planning and crime reporting.
  • WomensLaw.org - State-specific legal information related regarding protection orders, custody, divorce, state gun laws and more. WomensLaw.org also operates an email hotline where victims, their family/friends and advocates can write to ask legal questions.

Address Confidentiality

The Texas State Address Confidentiality Program assists crime victims who have relocated. Click here to find help with your application in your county. Click here to learn more about what the program in your state covers.

Contact Information

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Protection Orders

Art. 7A.01. Application for Protective Order.

(a) The following persons may file an application for a protective order under this chapter without regard to the relationship between the applicant and the alleged offender:

(1) a person who is the victim of an offense under Section 21.02, 21.11, 22.011, 22.021, or 42.072 (Stalking), Penal Code;

(2) a person who is the victim of an offense under Section 20A.02, 20A.03, or 43.05, Penal Code;

(3) a parent or guardian acting on behalf of a person younger than 17 years of age who is the victim of an offense listed in Subdivision (1);

(4) a parent or guardian acting on behalf of a person younger than 18 years of age who is the victim of an offense listed in Subdivision (2); or

(5) a prosecuting attorney acting on behalf of a person described by Subdivision (1), (2), (3), or (4).

(b) An application for a protective order under this chapter may be filed in:

(1) a district court, juvenile court having the jurisdiction of a district court, statutory county court, or constitutional county court in:

(A) the county in which the applicant resides;

(B) the county in which the alleged offender resides; or

(C) any county in which an element of the alleged offense occurred; or

(2) any court with jurisdiction over a protective order under Title 4, Family Code, involving the same parties named in the application.

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Criminal Stalking Laws

Tex. Penal Code § 42.072. Stalking. (2014)

(a) A person commits an offense if the person, on more than one occasion and pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engages in conduct that:

(1) constitutes an offense under Section 42.07, or that the actor knows or reasonably should know the other person will regard as threatening:

(A) bodily injury or death for the other person;

(B) bodily injury or death for a member of the other person's family or household or for an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship; or

(C) that an offense will be committed against the other person's property;


(2)  causes the other person, a member of the other person’s family or household, or an individual with whom the other person has a dating relationship to be placed in fear of bodily injury or death or in fear that an offense will be committed against the other person’s property, or to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended; and


(3) would cause a reasonable person to fear:


(A) fear bodily injury or death for himself or herself;

(B) fear bodily injury or death for a member of the person's family or household or for an individual with whom the person has a dating relationship; or

(C) fear that an offense will be committed against the person's property; or

 

(D) feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended.

 

(b)  An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree, except that the offense is a felony of the second degree if the actor has previously been convicted of an offense under this section or of an offense under any of the following laws that contains elements that are substantially similar to the elements of an offense under this section:


 (1) the laws of another state;

 (2) the laws of a federally recognized Indian tribe;

 (3) the laws of a territory of the United States; or

 (4) federal law.


(c)  For purposes of this section, a trier of fact may find that different types of conduct described by Subsection (a), if engaged in on more than one occasion, constitute conduct that is engaged in pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct. 

(d) In this section:

(1)“Dating relationship,” “family,” “household,” and “member of a household” have the meanings assigned by Chapter 71, Family Code.

(2)  “Property” includes a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal, as defined by Section 121.002, Human Resources Code.

SECTION 2. Chapter 13, Code of Criminal Procedure, is amended by adding Article 13.36 to read as follows:

ART. 13.36. Stalking. The offense of stalking may be prosecuted in any county in which an element of the offense occurred.


SECTION 3. Chapter 38, Code of Criminal Procedure, is amended by adding Article 38.46 to read as follows:

ART. 38.46. Evidence in prosecutions for stalking.


 (A) in a prosecution for stalking, each party may offer testimony as to all relevant facts and circumstances that would aid the trier of fact in determining whether the actor's conduct would cause a reasonable person to experience a fear described by section 42.072(A)(3)(A), (B), or (C), penal code, including the facts and circumstances surrounding any existing or previous relationship between the actor and the alleged victim, a member of the alleged victim's family or household, or an individual with whom the alleged victim has a dating relationship.


 (B) This article does not permit the presentation of character evidence that would otherwise be inadmissible under the Texas rules of evidence or other applicable law.


SECTION 4. The change in law made by this Act applies only to an offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act. An offense committed before the effective date of this Act is covered by the law in effect when the offense was committed, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose. For purposes of this section, an offense was committed before the effective date of this Act if any element of the offense occurred before that date.

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Civil Stalking Laws

Texas Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 85.001. Definitions. (2003)
In this chapter:

(1)  "Claimant" means a party seeking to recover damages under this chapter, including a plaintiff, counterclaimant, cross-claimant, or third-party plaintiff. In an action in which a party seeks recovery of damages under this chapter on behalf of another person, "claimant" includes both that other person and the party seeking recovery of damages.

(2)  "Defendant" includes any party from whom a claimant seeks recovery of damages under this chapter.

(3)  "Family" has the meaning assigned by § 71.003, Family Code.

(4)  "Harassing behavior" means conduct by the defendant directed specifically toward the claimant, including following the claimant, that is reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass the claimant.

Texas Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 85.002. Liability. (1997)
A defendant is liable, as provided by this chapter, to a claimant for damages arising from stalking of the claimant by the defendant.

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 85.003. Proof. (1997)
(a)  A claimant proves stalking against a defendant by showing:

(1)  on more than one occasion the defendant engaged in harassing behavior;

(2)  as a result of the harassing behavior, the claimant reasonably feared for the claimant's safety or the safety of a member of the claimant's family; and

(3)  the defendant violated a restraining order prohibiting harassing behavior or:

(A) the defendant, while engaged in harassing behavior, by acts or words threatened to inflict bodily injury on the claimant or to commit an offense against the claimant, a member of the claimant's family, or the claimant's property;

(B) the defendant had the apparent ability to carry out the threat;

(C) the defendant's apparent ability to carry out the threat caused the claimant to reasonably fear for the claimant's safety or the safety of a family member;

(D) the claimant at least once clearly demanded that the defendant stop the defendant's harassing behavior;

(E) after the demand to stop by the claimant, the defendant continued the harassing behavior; and

(F) the harassing behavior has been reported to the police as a stalking offense.

(b)  The claimant must, as part of the proof of the behavior described by Subsection (a)(1), submit evidence other than evidence based on the claimant's own perceptions and beliefs.

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 85.004. Damages. (1997)
A claimant who prevails in a suit under this chapter may recover actual damages and, subject to Chapter 41, exemplary damages.

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 85.005. Defense. (1997)
It is a defense to an action brought under this chapter that the defendant was engaged in conduct that consisted of activity in support of constitutionally or statutorily protected rights.

Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 85.006. Cause of Action Cumulative. (1997)
The cause of action created by this chapter is cumulative of any other remedy provided by common law or statute.

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