A Victim Protective Order, commonly called a restraining order, is a court document designed to protect victims of domestic violence, stalking, harassment, and rape by prohibiting contact between the petitioner and the defendant.
While the intent of a protective order is to keep an abuser from harming his or her victim, a VPO can unfortunately be used as a tool to embarrass, humiliate, or punish a person in a custody dispute or a failed relationship.
Protective orders are relatively easy to obtain, and many times, a person does not know that he or she has been named in a restraining order until the county sheriff's department serves him or her with the order. Often, an emergency order is granted in an ex parte hearing that the defendant is not allowed to attend, nor has any knowledge of until being served with the protective order.
An emergency ex parte protective order prevents the defendant from telling his or her side of the story, and it is often granted with no other evidence than the petitioner's testimony. If you have been served with a protective order, call a lawyer immediately for help.
While we provide representation to those who have been unfairly served with a VPO, we also understand that the protective order is a valuable and necessary tool for documenting harassment and violence and serving as to protect those who are at risk of harm from an abuser. Through our family law practice, we also help victims of domestic violence or those who have been threatened with harm to file a protective order against those who may seek to hurt them.
Primarily, protective orders are issued for adults and children who are the victims of domestic violence; however, domestic abuse is not the only grounds for obtaining a VPO. Harassment and stalking may also be grounds for a protective order in Oklahoma. If a person's intentional contact actions put another person in fear of danger, the victim of the harassment may be able to file a protective order against the stalker.
The VPO is a no-contact order issued by a judge that prevents the abuser or harasser from contacting the victim in any form - physical, verbal, written, telephonic, or electronic. Additionally, the subject of the protective order is often barred from carrying firearms or from coming within a specified distance of the victim.
If you are the victim of domestic violence, a law enforcement officer can issue an emergency temporary protective order if the courthouse is closed at the time of the incident. This temporary order may be issued without the knowledge of the subject, and it is only valid until the court is open. After that, a person may seek an emergency ex parte order at the courthouse. The emergency ex parte protective order provides a victim with the no-contact order until a hearing for the final protection order.
A person has the right to petition the court for a protective order without representation from an attorney. However, your chance of obtaining an order against your abuser is maximized if you have legal representation from an experienced family lawyer. Your attorney can help demonstrate an abuser's pattern of violent or threatening behavior, and he or she can provide adequate evidence of the risk you face if your abuser is allowed to contact you. Having an attorney to file the order for you and to represent you at the final protective order hearing is particularly important when the subject of the order has a defense attorney challenging your claims.
If you were served with a VPO, you may believe that you were wrongfully accused. Your first instinct may be to contact the "victim" and explain your actions, or to try to convince him or her to get the order lifted. However, a VPO generally forbids both direct and indirect contact, and by ignoring the order, you could find yourself in significant legal trouble.
Instead, call a lawyer who can help you understand all of the terms of the order, and make sure you carefully comply. Meanwhile, your lawyer can help you work to get an unfair order lifted or can help build your case for the final protection order hearing that will take place within about three weeks from the service of the emergency order.
In generally, if you have been served with a Victim Protective Order, you will be barred contact with any petitioners named on the order. You may be prevented from coming within a certain distance of the petitioner. You may be ordered to temporarily vacate your own home. You will likely not be allowed any form of verbal or written communication, including phone calls, texts, email, or Facebook messages.
If someone has taken out a protective order against you, you may also be facing criminal charges for domestic assault, stalking, harassment, or other crimes. Violating the order will result in criminal penalties additional to any associated with conviction of the offense that precipitated the order.
A first offense of violating a protective order is a misdemeanor. As such, the penalty of conviction is a maximum of one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
However, if you are accused of violating a Victim Protective Order a second or subsequent time, you will be charged with a felony that carries a potential sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Penalties are enhanced if the person who violates the order causes injury to the victim.
If you are accused of violating a protective order, prosecutors and judges will not likely care that you believe the order was unfair or unwarranted. It is critical that you adhere to the terms of the order while your attorney works diligently to protect your name and to get the order lifted.
Just as a criminal record can hinder employment opportunities, the record of a protective order - even one that was quickly rescinded - can jeopardize your rights, privileges, and job prospects. A VPO may suspend your firearm rights, damage your reputation, and make you look like a violent predator. Fortunately, Oklahoma law allows for the expungement of a protective order, clearing that blemish from your record. Even if you did not rely on us to help in fighting a VPO, we can help you remove a protective order from your record. Call (405) 608-4990 to speak with an expungement lawyer at the Law Firm of Oklahoma.
As a full-service law firm, the Law Firm of Oklahoma offers legal representation in several areas, including criminal defense and family law. If you need help filing a restraining order against an abuser or a stalker, we can help protect your family by ensuring that the petition is filed appropriately, and we can help you stand up to the abuser at a final protective order hearing.
On the other hand, if you have had an emergency order wrongfully filed against you, our skillful defense attorneys can help ensure that you successfully adhere to the order while working aggressively to get an unjust order rescinded.
For a confidential, free review of your case, submit the online form or call (405) 608-4990 today.