What Is an MOEP?
For those of you who don't know what an Magistrates Order of Emergency Protection (MOEP) is, it's an order from a Judge prohibiting an accused from, among other things, going near the residence or place of business of an alleged victim of family violence in Texas.
I know it seems like a reasonable order, if one were to assume the perfect case scenario of the violent spouse waiting on revenge. However, in its practice and use, it's usually nothing but bullsh*t.
Victims Do Not Ask for Protective Orders
First of all, out of every five cases I handle involving family violence, maybe one victimized spouse ever asked for the MOEP in the first place. The cop usually tells the “victim” that a MOEP will be issued, and then the prosecutor files a motion that states that the complainant requested one for her protection.
I am often hired by the “victim” to defend the person charged with family violence, who claims that nobody ever gave her an option to request a MOEP. In some cases, she specifically asked the cop when her husband would be available to bail out. I am often caught in the situation, where after my client bails out, the wife doesn't understand why her husband can't come home and I need to gather up all the witnesses in court to try and convince the Judge to rescind the MOEP.
The MOEP is a one of those cover your ass motions that helps prosecutors and Judges absolve themselves of responsibility if something happens after the accused bails out. But let me ask you this, if the prosecution actually thought that this heinous criminal would get out and abuse his loved one in a vengeful act, why in the hell wouldn't they be asking for a no-bond?
I often make this argument with bail conditions for DWI cases. Some Judge's order that the individual install an interlock device on their vehicles as a condition no matter the alleged facts of the crime. This turns out to be a pain in the ass, but does it really stop the defendant from driving drunk? If he really wants to, can't he just drive another car?
Protective Orders Are Not Harmless
The MOEP is not harmless. It is a violation of the Constitutional Rights of the accused, pure and simple. When a MOEP is requested, the accused has a no-bond by default, even if he is charged with a misdemeanor. He sits in jail until some Magistrate issues the MOEP. Somebody accused of Murder might be able to bail out as soon as his case hits the computer, but a person charged with the misdemeanor of Assault has to wait until some government agent decides to talk to him about his bail conditions.
I'm writing this as I'm staying up late waiting for a client of mine to see a magistrate. He is a physician. His wife came in to my office today and told me that she never requested the MOEP. He has been in jail for almost 48 hours now, with no bail attached to his case. He has missed two days at his Doctor's office. I went in to court today to see if there was some way I could expedite the bail question. He is still sitting in the City Jail, and there is not a g—damn thing I can do about it until he gets his precious MOEP. And then, what do you think the first thing I will do once it issues? Go in to get it removed. But the three days in hell that he has spent in jail can't be reclaimed. Nothing but bull sh*t.