Whether it is referred to as an EPO (Emergency Protective Order), a VPO (Victims Protective Order), or simply a PO (Protective Order), the theme and purpose is the same: court intervention to protect one individual from another.
There are certain requisite showings that must be made prior to getting a VPO in Oklahoma, and rightfully so. A Protective Order is a public record that can easily be accessible to employers, family, friends, and strangers alike. As such, courts are required to weigh and balance both the rights of the person seeking the order and those of the person contesting such.
First and foremost, you have to know the name of the person, and a location where he or she can be served. A judge may enter an Emergency Order on your behalf until the individual in question can be located, but before a permanent Order can be put in place, the person who you are trying to protect yourself from still has due process rights regarding notice and an opportunity to be heard. As such, the person has to be served with the notice and given an opportunity to show up to court and contest the allegations if he or she wishes.
Once the person is served with a copy of the petition and notice, then he or she has the opportunity to go to court and contest the allegations. If the person against whom the VPO is filed does not show up to court after being served, he or she will forfeit the right to contest the allegations, and a default order will be entered for the person requesting the Protective Order.
Demonstrating the Need for a Protective Order
If the person served with the petition and notice does show up to contest the allegations, then the person seeking the VPO will have to show the court evidence that the Protective Order is necessary. In order to show that the Protective Order is necessary, the requesting party must show the other person has engaged in one of the following behaviors: 1) threatening imminent physical harm, 2) harassment, or 3) stalking.
In order to show that someone has threatened you with imminent physical harm, you have to prove the threat, the imminent harm, and that a relationship exists with the other that is either familial, household, or dating in nature.
To show harassment, you have to prove that the same relationship exists (familial, household, or dating in nature), and that the harassing conduct seriously alarms or annoys you and serves no legitimate purpose. The harassing conduct must be such that it would cause a reasonable person to suffer "substantial emotional distress." You must also be able to prove that you actually suffered such distress as well.
Stalking is the only avenue available to get a VPO against someone who you do not share either a familial, household, or dating relationship with. If the person who is stalking you does not share such a relationship with you, you much file a report with local law enforcement prior to petitioning for a VPO, and you have to attach the police report to the petition. If you share such a relationship with someone who is stalking you, you can petition for a VPO without filing a police report.
To learn more about VPOs and restraining orders, click here.