Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the nation. It ranks highly in the number or women killed by men. It also has the country's highest incarceration rate of women, many of whom are victims of domestic violence punished for "allowing" the actions of their abusive partners. With high numbers of cases of domestic violence, stalking, and harassment, Victim's Protective Orders, sometimes referred to as "restraining orders," have an important place in protecting those who are threatened with violence.
What is a Victim's Protective Order?
A Victim's Protective Order (VPO) is a court order that requires the subject of the VPO to avoid contact with the petitioner or petitioners. If you have a VPO against you, you will not be allowed to come within a specified distance of the person who requested the order, you will not be allowed to call or contact the person, you will not be allowed to have others contact the person on your behalf, and so forth.
Types of VPO in Oklahoma
There are two types of protective orders in Oklahoma: an emergency ex parte order of protection and a final or permanent order of protection.
Emergency ex parte orders can be filed without the knowledge of the alleged abuser, and it offers the petitioner protection until the hearing for a final order of protection. At the hearing, the person against whom the VPO is to be applied has the opportunity to challenge the VPO. At the hearing, the district court judge will either issue a final protective order or will dismiss the VPO. Sometimes the protective order is dismissed because the complainant failed to show for the hearing; other times, it may dismissed if a judge finds that the request for a protective order is without merit.
For further details see our post on the requirements for filing a protective order.
Penalties for Violating a Victim's Protective Order
Oklahoma law outlines the penalties for violating a VPO in 22 § 60.6. The consequences range in severity depending on whether the violation is a first offense or subsequent violation of the protective order and whether the violation resulted in physical injury:
- 1st offense: misdemeanor, up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
- 1st offense resulting in injury: misdemeanor, 20 days to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
- 2nd offense: felony, 1 to 3 years in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $10,000
- 2nd offense resulting in injury: felony, 1 to 5 years in prison and a fine of $3,000 to $10,000
The above penalties are in addition to those for any other crime which occurs during the violation of the protective order, such as assault and battery.
Challenging a VPO in Oklahoma
If there is a VPO against you, it is important to respect the order and contact an attorney to help you challenge it. Violating a VPO--even if you think the protective order was filed unjustly--is a crime, and it carries serious consequences. It can also jeopardize your case as you fight the VPO at the hearing for a final order of protection.
While Victim's Protective Orders are necessary to document a history of abuse and to offer protection to victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault, there are times in which a VPO may be wrongfully requested. A person may request a VPO after a domestic altercation in an attempt to portray himself or herself as a victim rather than an instigator, or someone may make a false accusation of abuse in order to gain an edge in a divorce proceeding or custody dispute. Anyone who has been named in a VPO has a right to defend against the allegations.