Criminal District Attorney, Stephen B. Tyler
DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE DIRECTORY
STEVE TYLER, CDA
JOHNA STALLINGS, 1st Asst.CDA
Barbara Agbu, ACDA
Jacquelyn Johnson, ACDA
Carole Arnold, Chief Clerk
Demetria Black, Asst. Cheif Clerk
Lori Delgado, Clerk III
Megan Frisby, Clerk III
Carmen Alvarez, Clerk III
E. H. Guterrez, Office Manager
Brendan Guy, ACDA-Appellate
Patrick Gurski, ACDA
Michael White, ACDA
Jesse Landes, ACDA
Brooks Richmond, ACDA
Kerry Pozzi, Chief Clerk
Theresa Garcia, Asst. Chief Clerk
Maridel Hernandez, Clerk III
Piper Summey, Clerk II
Virginia Garber, Chief Clerk
Pink Dickens, ACDA
Selena Ortiz, Asst. Chief Clerk
Pink Dickens, ACDA
Terry Hernandez, Clerk III
(Forfeitures & Siezures)
Gwen Sanford, VAC
Steve Allen, Inv.
Robert Bianchi, Inv.
Daniel Villarreal, Inv.
Roy Kuester, Inv.
Sara Bill, Felony
Gwen Sanford, Misdemeanor
Sandra Andrade, Receptionist
0 or Ext. 2101
Office Phone 575-0468
Felony Office Fax 576-4139
Misdemeanor Office ... 570-1041
This website has been expanded in an effort to inform you about the duties and happenings of the Victoria County Criminal District Attorney’s Office. You will find brief explanations about the services each department provides the general public. I am honored to represent the citizens of Victoria County and the State of Texas as Criminal District Attorney.
Since 2007, our office has diligently worked and continues to provide assistance to you in many ways. As you explore this site, you will be introduced to some of our accomplishments. I am looking forward in continuing to serve Victoria County and appreciate its trust in me to lead our county in maintaining high standards relative to the law, management, financial responsibility and technology. Through this site, I am reaching out to the entire community. I hope you enjoy it and find it friendly and informative. This is an on-going work in progress. Additional information and features will be available in the future. Please visit us often for the latest updates.
The Office of Criminal District Attorney Administration Section handles all matters ranging from prosecuting criminal cases at all levels, representing the interests of victims of violent crimes, obtaining protective orders, saving children from abusive households to personnel and finances including applications for employment, purchasing, and budget.
The main duty of the Criminal District Attorney is to represent the state in criminal cases. The District Attorney works with law enforcement officers in the investigation and preparation of cases to be held before the criminal courts. When requested in writing, the district attorney may provide legal counsel to county officers.
STEPHEN B. TYLER, CRIMINAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY,
Stephen B. Tyler is the chief administrator of the Criminal District Attorney’s Office. As your elected official, Mr. Tyler has a vision of serving the citizens of Victoria County with high standards of expectations as set out in our mission statement. He has intensified and brought forth a new level of professional standards between law enforcement, the judiciary and citizens of our community. Mr. Tyler is a felony prosecutor who establishes the principles for reviewing criminal cases for all other attorneys in this office and prosecutes felony offenders in District Court. These prosecuted cases have ranged from Capital Murder, Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, Aggravated Sexual Assault as well as many other major felony cases.
FIRST ASSISTANT CRIMINAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY, JOHNA M. STALLINGS
As First Assistant Criminal District Attorney, Ms. Stallings assists in carrying out administrative duties as needed. She works hand in hand with Mr. Tyler in assisting with management decisions and implementing those decisions. Ms. Stallings possesses the same high values, work ethics and views as Mr. Tyler in the operations and goals of the office. Ms. Stallings is a felony prosecutor and the section chief of the cases assigned to the 377th Judicial District Court in Victoria, Texas She works with all attorneys in not only felony section, but also with juvenile and misdemeanor departments as well.
OFFICE MANAGER, ERNEST H. "ERNIE" GUTERREZ JR.
Ernie Guterrez is the office manager. He manages the office's daily operations, accepts applications for employment and processes all purchase requisitions, reimbursements, and accounts payable.
CIVIL SECTION CHIEF, ASSISTANT CRIMINAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY, JAMES PINK DICKENS
The civil section chief is responsible for handling all cases involving the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. This department reviews cases involving child abuse, endangerment and neglect. This department represents the State in civil actions regarding child custody, protection and welfare. The section also has a prosecutor in charge of reviewing and filing protective orders to ensure that victims of family violence are protected from their abuser by court order. Another duty of the Civil Section prosecutors is to prosecute criminal cases filed in the Justice of the Peace Courts.
Child/Adult Protective Services Division
The mission of the Victoria County Criminal District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is to protect children, the elderly, and people with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and exploitation by involving clients, families and communities.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) offers a central location to report:
- child abuse and neglect,
- elderly or adults with disabilities abuse, neglect, or exploitation,
- abuse of children in licensed child-care facilities or treatment centers for the entire State of Texas,
- abuse of clients served by the Texas Department of State Health Service(DSHS) or Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) employees in State Hospitals or State Schools.
Assistant Criminal District Attorney, PINK DICKENS, with the assistance of legal secretary, SELENA ORTIZ, represents the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) in civil cases filed under the Texas Family Code protecting abused and neglected children as well as the elderly and people with disabilities in Victoria County. These cases can involve emergency removals from the home to protect them from abuse or neglect. Temporary orders can be issued by the court granting temporary custody to the Department or a relative who will protect the person while the case is pending. These civil suits can ultimately result in the termination of parental/guardianship rights. The court can also order parent(s)/guardians to do certain services to avoid the removal.
The law requires any person who believes that a child, or person 65 years or older, or an adult with disabilities is being abused, neglected, or exploited to report the circumstances to DFPS. A person making a report is immune from civil or criminal liability provided they make the report in good faith, and the name of the person making the report is kept confidential. Any person suspecting abuse and not reporting it can be held liable for a Class B misdemeanor. Time frames for investigating reports are based on severity of allegations. Reporting suspected child abuse makes it possible for a family to get help. Reports of suspected abuse can be made at www.txabusehotline.org or by calling the Texas Abuse Hotline 1-800-252-5400.
The Felony Section has responsibility over all felony cases prosecuted in Victoria County.
The Felony Process
When a law enforcement agency completes its criminal investigation, their felony case office is submitted to the Victoria County Criminal District Attorney’s Office for Felony Intake. Felony Intake is the process of reviewing the reports filed by the investigating agency including all supporting evidence. The file is reviewed to ensure the legal elements of a felony crime have been met and can be proven.
After the intake process has been completed, the case is submitted to a Grand Jury. A Grand Jury is composed of twelve (12) citizens of Victoria County. The Grand Jury then takes action to “True Bill” or “No Bill” the case. A “True Bill” means the grand jury has decided that the State has enough evidence to bring criminal charges against a person. The case is then filed in District Court and the prosecution of the case begins. A “No Bill” means the State does not have enough evidence to formally charge a person with the offense. A “No-Bill” ends the prosecution of the case.
After a “True Bill” the case is filed with District Court. Each District Court has at least two (2) felony prosecutors assigned to prosecute all cases filed with that District Court. These felony prosecutors handle all phases of the prosecution from intake to pre-trial hearings and jury trial. While prosecutors are not investigators, they review the files in preparation of court hearings. Preparation includes meeting with the investigating agencies, meeting with victims, meeting with witnesses, reviewing physical evidence and reviewing applicable legal precedents.
Felony Offense Classification and Ranges of Punishment
The Felony Offenses
In general, felony cases are divided into 5 categories.
State Jail Felonies
Punishment can range from:
6 months to 2 years of state jail incarceration and an optional fine up to $10,000 fine, Or Community Supervision (commonly referred to as “Probation”) for up to 5 years and the same optional fine. Includes offenses such as: Driving While Intoxicated with a Passenger under 15, Evading Arrest with a Motor Vehicle, Possession of a Controlled Substance listed in Penalty Group 1 that is under 1 gram of aggregate weight. Common controlled substances in this ground include: cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Possession of Marijuana over 4 ounces, but under 5 pounds. Recklessly Causing Bodily Injury to a Child under 15, Theft from $1,500 to $20,000 (including theft by check in these amounts), Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle,
3rd Degree Felonies
Punishment can range from:
2 – 10 years of incarceration in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and an optional fine up to $10,000, Or Community Supervision for up to 10 years and the same optional fine. Includes offenses such as: Assault on a Public Servant, Driving While Intoxicated Third Offense or More, Indecency with a Child by Exposure, Intoxication Assault, Possession of a Controlled Substance listed in Penalty Group 1 that is over 1 gram, but under 4 grams of aggregate weight Possession of Marijuana over 5 pounds, but under 50 pounds,
2nd Degree Felonies
Punishment can range from:
2 – 20 years of incarceration in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and an optional fine up to $10,000, Or Community Supervision for up to 10 years and the same optional fine. Includes offenses such as: Aggravated Assault, Burglary of a Habitation, Indecency with a Child by Contact, Intoxication Manslaughter Possession of a Controlled Substance listed in Penalty Group 1 that is over 4 grams, but under 200 grams of aggregate weight Possession of Marijuana over 50 pounds, but under 2,000 pounds, Robbery, Sexual Assault,
1st Degree Felonies
Punishment can range from:
5 – 99 years or life incarceration in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and an optional fine up to $10,000, Or Community Supervision for up to 10 years and the same optional fine. Includes offenses such as: Aggravated Assault on a Public Servant, Aggravated Robbery, Aggravated Sexual Assault, Intentionally or Knowingly Causing Serious Bodily Injury to a Child under 15, Murder, Possession of a Controlled Substance listed in Penalty Group 1 that is over 200 grams, but under 400 grams of aggregate weight Possession of Marijuana over 2,000 pounds,
Capital Murder Punish Range is Death or Life Imprisonment. Community Supervision is not available as a punishment option. Failure to Stop and Render Aid Possession of a Controlled Substance listed in Penalty Group 1 that is over 400 grams of aggregate weight Punishment can range from 10 – 99 years or life incarceration in the Texas Department of Criminal `Justice and an optional fine up to $100,000,
Or Community Supervision for up to 10 years and the same optional fine.
***Not all offenses are eligible for community supervision. Eligibility for community supervision depends on many factors not listed or discussed on this page.***
***This is a brief summary of offenses and available punishments. For a further explanation or analysis please consult an attorney ***
***This is not intended to provide legal or professional advice.***
Asset Forfeiture is a term used to describe the confiscation of assets, by the State, which are either:
- (a) Property that is used in the commission of a crime,
- (b) Proceeds gained from the commission of a crime,
- (c) Property acquired with proceeds gained from the commission of a crime, or
- (d) Property used to facilitate or intended to be used to facilitate the commission of a crime.
The Asset Forfeiture Section of the District Attorney's Office consists of an assistant criminal district attorney, a legal secretary and an investigator. The primary responsibility of the Asset Forfeiture Section is to prosecute seizure and forfeiture cases pursuant to Chapter 59 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Prior to the filing of a forfeiture lawsuit, our office assists law enforcement agencies in researching properties to be seized, advising the agencies on the legal requirements of prosecuting a forfeiture action, drafting and obtaining search and seizure warrants, and helps with other questions that might arise.
Once a forfeiture lawsuit has been filed, the assistant district attorney and the legal secretary prosecute the case to its conclusion and are responsible for obtaining service on the defendants, conducting civil discovery and presenting the evidence at trial. Once the case has concluded and a forfeiture judgment has been obtained, the investigator is responsible for seeing that the forfeited property is distributed pursuant to Texas law and in accordance with the local agreement in place between the seizing agency and the District Attorney's Office.
In addition to handling forfeiture lawsuits, this Section also is responsible for reviewing and appearing on behalf of the State in all Petitions for Expunction of Records that are filed in Victoria County. The main role of the Section on expunction cases is to certify that the applicant has met all the statutory requirements to be entitled to an expunction. In cases where the applicant is not entitled to expunction, the office files its written opposition to the petition with the court and appears in court to argue against the petition being granted.
The Section also assists individuals and private attorneys who have questions about expunctions or petitions for non-disclosure and provides guidance and assistance in preparing the proper documents to be filed in those cases.
Dear Victoria merchant:
One of the most prevalent and costly crimes that plague the local business community are Theft by Check. The purpose of this site is to alert you to some ways you can avoid taking hot checks, as well as to bring about some awareness as to procedures that will assist us in prosecuting the check writer if such crime is committed.
We want to help our businesses in Victoria County to succeed, and prevention of this crime is the ultimate goal. We will do everything legally possible to collect restitution due to you. Our services are free, and in addition to collecting restitution, we collect a $30 merchant fee for your trouble.
Remember… Crime Prevention begins with alert, knowledgeable citizens. Hot checks can be controlled with your help. If you have any questions, please call our Check Section. Chief Clerk, VIRGINIA GARBER, Assistant Clerk, TERRY HERNANDEZ, and Investigator, ROBERT BIANCHI, will be happy to assist you.
WHEN TO SUBMIT A HOT CHECK
- An individual or business writes a check and that check is returned by the bank as either “Insufficient Funds” (NSF) or “Account Closed.”
- The check was given in exchange for goods, services or cash.
- You or another employee can identify the check writer through their driver’s license or other method.
PROCEDURE WHEN TAKING A CHECK
Be thorough when accepting a check as payment for anything. Your business should set a policy for all customers, so no one will have a reason to feel that they are being treated unfairly. Ideally, you should post a “checklist” so each cashier can easily see it. It should include the following;
- IS IT DATED TODAY? Checks must be dated the same day they’re given. Post-dated checks cannot be prosecuted.
- IS THE SIGNATURE LEGIBLE? Do not accept previously signed checks. Have the check signed in your presence to compare with a driver’s license or other identification. If the signature is illegible, print the check writer’s name on the “memo” section of the check.
- IS THE ADDRESS COMPLETE? Require a permanent street address, not a P.O. Box number, unless you know the check writer.
- CAN YOU CONFIRM IDENTITY? Do not rely on pre-printed ID numbers on the check. Compare the photo DL or id with the check writer.
- DO THE WRITTEN AMOUNTS AND DOLLAR FIGURE CORRESPOND? Banks will not honor checks with discrepancies.
- DOES THE SIGNATURE MATCH THE NAME ON THE ACCOUNT? Banks will not honor checks with discrepancies. If the signature is illegible, print the check writer’s name on the “memo” section of the check.
- HAVE YOU RECORDED THE ID NUMBERS? Record, on the check, the ID/DL number, the issuing state of the identifier, ie. (TX DL# 00000000), as well as the clerk’s initial (the clerk who accepted the check.) This procedure allows to later prove the necessary element of identity. The preferred ID is a driver’s license or State Identification card. If the check writer does not have a driver’s license or State ID, get their date of birth, sex, and race, minimally
- BUSINESS CHECKS. We cannot prosecute a business. Be sure to document the ID/DL number of the person signing the check. (Do not accept a pre-signed check.)
- The check must be presented to the bank for payment or deposit within thirty (30) days of its date of issuance.
- The check must be stamped with the reason for the bank’s refusal to accept the check.
- Present the check to the criminal District Attorney’s Office within 30 days.
- Complete the Affidavit for Arrest Warrant and Detention and Merchant List of Checks then submit along with the returned check to the Criminal District Attorney's Hot Check Section located on the third floor at the Courthouse Annex Building at 205 N. Bridge St., Suite #301, Victoria, TX 77901.
- If the check is returned and marked “Account Closed,” there is no need to send a certified letter.
What to Bring to the DA’s Office
- 1. The original check as stamped by the bank, or a legible certified photocopy (of both the front and back) from the bank in lieu of the original.
- 2. If the check is for a Theft of Service, please provide a copy of the receipt detailing the services performed.
- 3. The completed (click on these links to download) Affidavit for Arrest Warrant and Detention and Merchant List of Checks;Preprinted forms are also provided at the District Attorney’s Office. Notary service is available for executing the above-mentioned affidavit.
- 4. In some instances, you may be required to provide a narrative affidavit of the events surrounding the transaction made on the tendered check or checks.
Once you have submitted a check to our office and we determine that it meets the above criteria, we will enter the check into our system and proceed to contact the check writer and process a case on the check. Once the District Attorney’s Office has accepted the check, do not attempt to collect on it. If a check writer makes a partial payment, the check will be returned to you by our office and will not be accepted again.
CHECKS WHICH CANNOT BE PROSECUTED:
The following types of checks usually cannot be prosecuted as Theft by Check. However, we will gladly send a courtesy notice for you.
- A check more than two (2) years old if it is under $1,500. If the check is over $1,500, it cannot be more than five (5) years old.
- A check that is lacking identifying information on the check writer such as their driver’s license number or street address.
The following types of checks cannot be prosecuted as Theft by Check.
- A check passed outside of Victoria County.
- A check that has not been submitted to the bank within thirty (30) days or is not marked by the bank as “NSF” or “Account Closed.” (If you present the check to the bank in person, the bank must stamp the reason for return and date it.)
- A check where partial payment has been made.
- A check given for a returned check.
RANGES OF PUNISHMENT:
Theft by check carries the following maximum penalties in Texas:
- $500 fine for checks written under $20.00
- $2,000.00 fine and 6 months in jail for checks written between $20.00-$500.00
- $4,000.00 fine and 1 year in jail for check written between $500.00 - $1,499.00
- Confinement in prison and $10,000.00 fine for checks written above $1,500.00
Investigators of the Victoria County Criminal District Attorney Office are Texas Peace Officers as defined by Texas Code of Criminal Procedure chapter 2.12 and each has a Master Peace Officer Certification awarded by the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement Standards and Education (TCLEOSE).
Their duties and responsibilities include, but are not limited to the following:
- Review and analyze incidence and prosecution case reports; perform follow up investigations
- Perform investigations for the Grand Jury
- Collect evidence of crimes; organize and prepare cases for prosecution;
- Collect, compile, provide for the preservation of, and analyze factual information
- Interview involved parties including suspects, witnesses and complainants; obtains and verifies official statements
- Assist prosecutors with all aspects of a trial, including juries, evidence, testimony, and progress of case
- Assist other law enforcement agencies in investigations, including reviewing cases, investigating crime scenes, performing surveillance functions, and serving warrants
- Perform hot check investigations, including locating check writers, setting up payment schedules, and arranging restitution payments to victims
- Serve as liaison with various law enforcement agencies, including requesting more information for cases and obtaining agency offense reports
- Participate in asset forfeitures with Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies
Prosecution of juvenile crimes in Victoria County is handled by all Assistant Criminal District Attorneys of the misdemeanor section. The ultimate objective in handling juvenile cases is the rehabilitation of the youth and assisting them in becoming law-abiding productive members of society. This objective is accomplished by coordinating with the Courts, the Juvenile Service Department and other local agencies to create a positive impact on Victoria’s youth.
In Texas, a juvenile case is one in which the offender is between 10-16 years of age. Once a child reaches the age of 17, they are considered adults and fall under the jurisdiction of the adult criminal system. Our office has several options for handling juvenile offenders.
In the most severe cases where the juvenile is at least fourteen years old, the State may petition the Court to certify the offender to stand trial as an adult. In such cases, the accused would face the same punishment as an adult offender, up to and including life in prison. Crimes committed by persons under the age of 17, however, are not eligible for the death penalty.
For other violent offenders and for habitual felony offenders, the State may seek a "determinate sentence." Under this sentencing scheme, for the more serious offenses, a juvenile could face up to a maximum of forty years confinement in the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) with a possible transfer to the adult prison system prior to reaching age nineteen. Juvenile offenders who are transferred from TYC to the adult prison system are required to serve the remainder of their sentence in adult prison.
For less serious offenses, a juvenile offender faces the possibility of being placed on probation or being committed to TYC for an “indeterminate” period of time. These offenders cannot be transferred to the adult criminal justice system. If the offender receives an indeterminate commitment to TYC, he or she must be discharged on or before reaching age nineteen. For an offender who receives probation, the term of probation must end on or before he or she reaches age eighteen.
During probation, a child may be required to perform community service, attend special classes, pay restitution, and regularly report to a juvenile probation officer. Failure to comply with the orders of the Juvenile Court and the rules of probation may result in the child’s probation being modified. Such modifications often result in stricter supervision, including placement in specialized treatment facilities or commitment to TYC.
When a misdemeanor offense is committed and reported to local law enforcement agencies, those agencies conduct the investigation, collect any evidence including witness statements, prepare reports and bring them to the Office of Criminal District Attorney, Misdemeanor Section. In our intake process, an attorney reviews the cases to ensure that the elements of the offense are met and, if they are, the case is filed by means of a document called a Complaint and Information.
The Misdemeanor Section consists of four prosecutors and three legal assistants. The prosecutors are assigned to the County Courts to prosecute misdemeanor criminal offenses that occur in Victoria County. In these courts, the prosecutors handle docket calls, pre-trial matters, pleas before the court, revocations, jury trials, court trials, post-trial habeas corpus matters and motions for new trial. When the attorneys are not in the courtroom, they review and prepare the cases for court by performing many duties, including locating witnesses and interviewing witnesses and reviewing evidence.
Misdemeanors are divided into three categories according to their level of seriousness:
- Class A Misdemeanors carry a punishment of a fine not to exceed $4,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year, or by both.
- Class B Misdemeanors carry a punishment of a fine not to exceed $2,000, confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or by both.
- Class C Misdemeanors carry a punishment of a fine not to exceed $500.
Penalties may be increased for repeat offenders.
Family violence is a serious danger and threat to society and its members. Victims of family violence are entitled to the maximum protection from harm, abuse or threats of harm or abuse, as permitted by law.
Family Violence is defined as any act by one member of a family or household intended to physically harm another member, a serious threat of physical harm, the abuse of a child or dating violence.
Dating Violence is defined as any act by an individual intended to physically harm another individual with whom that person has or has had a dating relationship, or a serious threat of physical harm. A dating relationships defined as a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.
What Is A Protective Order?
A Protective Order is a civil court order issued to prevent continuing acts of family violence.
HOW CAN A PROTECTIVE ORDER HELP?
A protective order may prohibit a person from…
- Committing further acts of family violence;
- Harassing or threatening the protected person directly or communicating the threat indirectly through another person;
- Going to or near a protected person’s residence or place of employment;
- Going to or near a school or daycare center attended by a child protected under the order;
- Possessing a firearm.
WHO IS ENTITLED TO A PROTECTIVE ORDER?
A protective order may be issued to:
- victim of family violence or dating violence who is..:
- 1. Someone with whom the victim is related by blood or marriage;
- 2. Someone with whom the victim has had a child; or
- 3. Someone with whom the victim has or has had a continuing dating relationship of a romantic or intimate nature
- a victim sexual assault who has been threatened with future harm.
HOW TO APPLY
You can apply for a protective order in person, with the assistance of GWEN SANFORD or Assistant Criminal District Attorney, PINK DICKENS. You or the Respondent must reside in Victoria County. The person requesting a protective order (the applicant) will be required to complete an application providing us information about the parties involved. An attorney will review the application and may request an interview to gather additional facts and information regarding the case.
Download Packet for Applying for a Protective Order.
WHAT INFORMATION DO WE NEED?
When you apply for a protective order, you must provide the following:
- The name and address of each applicant;
- State the relationship between the applicant and alleged offender;
- The police report number and name of investigating agency if there is one;
- A statement from the applicant describing detailed recent acts of family violence; and
For faster service, please download the application, fill in the information and bring to our office as soon as possible.
The applicant should file for the protective order as soon as possible after family violence has occurred. If there are past incidents of family violence, the applicant needs to provide this information in the application form.
Once the application is approved by an assistant district attorney, court documents are prepared. The applicant will be contacted to review and sign the forms before filing with a District Court. A hearing on the application for a protective order will be held within fourteen (14) days from the filing date. This will give the Sheriff's Office time to serve the respondent with Citation and Notice of Setting. However, if the respondent has not been served before the initial hearing, the case will be reset for an additional two (2) weeks.
The Sheriff's Office will hand-deliver the paperwork to the respondent. The documents consists of an Application for a Protective Order with a sworn affidavit signed by the applicant detailing the recent acts of violence, and a Temporary Ex Parte Protective Order.
If the respondent has been served, the court will hear the case. If the respondent has not served, the judge cannot hear the case. Assistant District Attorney, PINK DICKENS will go with the applicant to court, present the case to the judge and to talk to the respondent or the respondent’s attorney.
If the respondent agrees to the conditions of the protective order, an Agreed Protective Order will be issued. If the respondent does not appear in court after being served, the applicant automatically gets a protective order by default. If the respondent denies the charges, a hearing will be held in front of a Judge who will decide if the applicant should get the protective order. Once granted, the protective order will be in effect for two (2) years
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE PROTECTIVE ORDER IS VIOLATED?
Call the police immediately!! Remember, protective orders do not offer complete protection. No piece of paper can protect you from all instances of violence.
If a person violates the order and law enforcement is notified, officials will act to arrest the person and seek to have charges filed. If the violation is in the presence of law enforcement, he or she must be arrested immediately.
WHAT ARE OTHER OPTIONS AVAILABLE?
A Magistrate’s Order for Emergency protection may be issued when a defendant appears before a magistrate after arrest for an offense involving family violence or a sexual assault. The order may be issued on the magistrates own motion or at the request of the victim, the victim’s guardian, a peace office or the attorney representing the State.
- A Magistrates Order for Emergency Protection prohibits the alleged offender from the same acts as stated above.
- The victim does not have to be present in court when the order is issued.
- Once granted, the Magistrates Order for Emergency Protection will be in effect for up to sixty-one (61) days.
Remember, if someone has physically assaulted or threatened you, contact the police department or sheriff’s office to press charges. Even if you are ineligible for a protective order, you may be able to have the person arrested for assault, criminal trespass or stalking.
The heart of this prosecutor’s office resides within its victim services department. The Victoria County Criminal District Attorney’s Office has made victim services a priority in this office, with our colleagues from other agencies and in our community. The Victim Assistance Coordinator, SARA A. BILL, along with her assistant GWEN SANFORD, have the duty and responsibility to ensure that every victim, guardian of a victim, or close relative of a deceased victim is afforded their rights granted by Article 56.02 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
Ms. Bill and Ms. Sanford work closely with appropriate law enforcement agencies, prosecuting attorneys, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and the judiciary to carry out this duty. In addition, they assist victims of property crime and provide crisis intervention for individuals needing protective orders.
Crime Victims’ are provided, but not limited to, the following basic services:
- Guidance throughout the judicial system;
- Ensure every victim understand their rights;
- Information about the case status and outcome;
- Assistance with filing applications for Crime Victim Compensation and answers to general questions;
- Information of and registration with the VINE program (Victim Information and Notification Everyday);
- Information about and referrals to local social service agencies in addition, work with various social service agencies to meet crime victims' needs;
- Crisis intervention and legal assistance with Protective Orders;
- Available for call-out duty 24 hours a day;
- Information and assistance with Victim Impact Statements;
- Assist and accompany prosecutors with pre-trial conferences;
- Provide restitution assistance to crime victims and information to appropriate criminal justice personnel;
- Coordinate witness appearances to include making hotel and travel arrangements;
- Provide information about the Right of Elocution to address the defendant & court after sentencing;
- Forwarding Victim Impact Statements to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice System;
- Communicate with prosecutors to answer any questions crime victims may have;
- Accompany crime victims to trials, court proceedings, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, meetings with attorneys or other appointments;
- Provide information and legal assistance to victims of domestic violence to obtain protective orders;
- Collaborate with the Crime Victim Liaisons at the Victoria County Sheriff's Office and the Victoria Police Department to coordinate efforts on improving services to crime victims;
- Assist crime victims with questions and addressing needs that may arise after their case is disposed;
- Provide information and assist with registering with TDJC victim services for parole notification and actual parole dates; and
- Work to educate the public and various agencies about victims' services.