Having a victim protective order (VPO) on your record can often carry as much weight for your reputation as having a criminal conviction. If a background check reveals a "restraining order" in your past, you could be passed over for jobs or rejected in personal relationships. However, in many cases, a VPO was filed quickly as an emergency ex parte order, and the order was dismissed and no permanent protective order was filed. Even if a permanent order was granted, the defendant may no longer be perceived as a threat to the plaintiff. Although the VPO is vacated, it remains on a person's court record.
Fortunately, just as a person can obtain expungement of a misdemeanor or non-violent felony conviction, a person may be able to get the record of a protective order expunged.
Expunging a Protective Order from Your Record
Oklahoma's protective order expungement process is stipulated in 22 O.S. § 60.18. This statute lists four specific circumstances which allow a defendant to file for the expungement of a VPO:
- An ex parte order was issued to the plaintiff but later terminated due to dismissal of the petition before the full hearing, or denial of the petition upon full hearing, or failure of the plaintiff to appear for full hearing, and at least ninety (90) days have passed since the date set for full hearing;
- The plaintiff filed an application for a victim protective order and failed to appear for the full hearing and at least ninety (90) days have passed since the date last set by the court for the full hearing, including the last date set for any continuance, postponement or rescheduling of the hearing;
- The plaintiff or defendant has had the order vacated and three (3) years have passed since the order to vacate was entered; or
- The plaintiff or defendant is deceased.
The defendant named in a VPO must file for expungement in the district court where the protective order was filed. When a defendant files a petition for expungement of the protective order, the plaintiff, or the person who sought the original order, is given the opportunity to object to the expungement. The plaintiff may provide a written answer or objection within 30 days of receiving notice of the petition for expungement.
The court then schedules a hearing, giving 30-days' notice to involved parties, including the district attorney and all parties named in the protective order. If there is no objection to the expungement, or if the court finds that the adverse consequences of retaining the records outweigh the risks of expungement, the court will order the sealing of the record.
Because the person who filed the initial protective order has the right to object to the expungement petition, it is particularly important to contact a lawyer for help in receiving VPO expungement. Call 405-778-4800 to learn more.