DA’s office taking protective order applications by phone

The shelter-in-place order implemented to mitigate the spread of  COVID-19 is intended to protect the community, but there’s one vulnerable segment of the population that could face greater danger by staying at home for a prolonged period of time: domestic violence victims.

Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez, however, wants people who may be in this vulnerable position to know that law enforcement is working and will respond to calls for service.

“We want them to know that if there’s any kind of false information out there, that either we’re shut down and you can’t seek help anywhere, that’s totally false,” Rodriguez said. “We’re going to keep pushing and tell possible victims of domestic violence to please find a way to contact us. Please find a way to contact law enforcement.”

In response to COVID-19, Rodriguez said that people who need a protective order from an alleged abuser can now start that process by simply calling (956) 292-7613. A DA’s office employee will be there to help people fill out a protective order application.

And if someone has an emergency, they should call 9-1-1.

Previously, people seeking protective orders had to show up in person to the DA’s office or at several locations throughout the county to fill out the application.

Emergency orders from the Texas Supreme Court and the Hidalgo County Board of Judges have allowed people to begin the protective order process by simply calling (956) 292-7613.

“What we want them to know is we are still operating the same way,” Rodriguez said. “The same service is still provided. The only difference is one can’t come in person to apply for the protective order.”

But if someone does show up to the DA’s office, Rodriguez said the phone number to call is posted on the front of the building.

“We want everyone to know that they can still call us,” Rodriguez said.

He also emphasized that information about beginning the protective order application process is available in Spanish and English on the county’s website.