If you have had a protective order issued against you in Texas, your name may appear in an online database if a recently filed bill becomes law.
State Rep. Brooks Landgraf filed House Bill 2315, known as Monica’s Law, which would allow the creation of a statewide, searchable public database of people who have had protective orders filed against them. It would work like the state sex offender registry.
The bill was filed in response to the death of Monica Deming, who was shot several times in a murder-suicide by a man who had two protective orders filed against him by different women. If a protective order database existed at that time, Landgraf argues, Deming could have looked up the man online before agreeing to a date with him.
The Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Association spoke out against such a database because it could bring unintended consequences. Because protective orders come from civil courts, not criminal courts, the burden of proof to obtain one is lower. Protective orders are sometimes recommended out of an abundance of caution. This means that a person can be the subject of a protective order even if they pose no risk to the person seeking one. The database could also be misused out of spite.
What do you think? Is a protective order database a useful tool to protect people from danger? Or is the potential for misuse too great to allow for something like this? The Texas House will likely vote on this bill within the next two weeks. We’ll see then how lawmakers feel.