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Under Oklahoma law, victims of specified crimes are offered protection from an alleged abuser or offender through a protective order (PO) or victim protection order (VPO). These orders, commonly called restraining orders, are intended to prevent harassment, intimidation, or harm by an individual accused of domestic abuse and other serious crimes against another person.
Although a court order cannot physically prevent a person from contacting or harming another, there are stiff penalties associated with violating these orders. For those already facing criminal prosecution, the additional charges for violating a PO can complicate the defense.
There are three types of protective orders in Oklahoma: an emergency temporary order, an emergency ex parte order, and a final order of protection.
Temporary orders are typically issued at the scene of a violent situation to which police respond. These emergency temporary orders are given when a person is perceived to be in immediate need of protection, but the court is closed. A responding police officer should have the petition available for a person seeking protection to complete. A judge then typically gives verbal approval for the emergency temporary order. This order is only valid until the end of the first business day following the incident.
In order to extend the temporary order into an emergency order, a person must petition for emergency orders in the county courthouse where either the plaintiff or the defendant resides or where the alleged incident(s) occurred. The Oklahoma State Courts Network makes these forms available online, but it is important to understand your eligibility and the court’s requirements for completing the forms and submitting them appropriately.
If a judge issues emergency POs, a hearing for final orders will be scheduled within 14 days. At that point, the judge may issue a final order of protection or may dismiss the petition. In some cases, it may not be necessary to file a petition for emergency orders prior to filing a petition. Emergency orders are issued when a person has reasonable evidence that he or she is in immediate danger.
Protective Orders in domestic abuse situations are granted under the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act (22 O.S. §§ 60-60.20).
Victim protection orders in cases of rape, forcible sodomy, a sex offense, kidnapping or assault and battery with a deadly weapon are granted under 22 O.S. § 40.2. Likewise, immediate family members of someone killed in an act of first-degree murder may be granted a VPO against anyone charged with the murder or as an accessory to first-degree murder. By law, a VPO must be “substantially similar” to a PO issued in a domestic abuse case.
Both types of orders are intended to prevent the person accused of abuse or assault from having contact with the alleged victim of the crime. Essentially it is a court order issued by a judge that bars the person named from physical contact, verbal contact, written or electronic communication, and being in the presence of the person seeking protection. A person may be ordered to leave his or her own home for the duration of the order and to relinquish all firearms.
Under 22 O.S. § 60.6, violating a restraining order is a misdemeanor on the first offense and a felony for a second or subsequent offense. Misdemeanor violation is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of one year in county jail. A felony conviction for second or subsequent violation of a PO is punishable by one to three years in prison and a $2,000 to $10,000 fine.
The penalties increase significantly if a person is harmed during the violation of a restraining order. When this occurs, the defendant can face up to 5 years in prison in addition to any penalties the person faces for the underlying assault and battery.
In general, there is no cost to get a restraining order in Oklahoma. However, if a petitioner fails to appear in court, then the order will likely be dismissed and the petitioner will be assessed court costs. Additionally, if a judge finds the petition to be frivolous—for example, a person wrongfully claiming abuse or harassment in an attempt to gain an edge in a divorce or to get revenge on another person—the petitioner will be ordered to pay court costs and most likely attorney’s fees for the opposing party.
According to Oklahoma law:
Except as otherwise provided by this section, no filing fee, service of process fee, attorney fees or any other fee or costs shall be charged the plaintiff or victim at any time for filing a petition for a protective order whether a protective order is granted or not granted. The court may assess court costs, service of process fees, attorney fees, other fees and filing fees against the defendant at the hearing on the petition, if a protective order is granted against the defendant; provided, the court shall have authority to waive the costs and fees if the court finds that the party does not have the ability to pay the costs and fees.
If the court makes specific findings that a petition for a protective order has been filed frivolously and no victim exists, the court may assess attorney fees and court costs against the plaintiff.
There is no requirement that a person seeking or defending against a restraining order hire legal representation. However, having a lawyer on your side is critical for presenting evidence to support or defend against claims of violence, abuse, or harassment. This is especially true if the opposing party has retained counsel. Just like any other situation, if you have to appear in court, you should have an attorney present with you to best protect yourself and your property.
Temporary restraining orders last only until the courthouse closes the first day following the incident that prompted the emergency temporary order.
Emergency orders of protection last until the hearing for the final order of protection. In most cases, that is within 14 days.
A final order of protection is issued only after both sides—the petitioner and the alleged abuser—have had the opportunity to present evidence at a court hearing. At that point, a judge will determine whether to dismiss the order or to issue a final protection order.
Final protection orders either last up to five years (not counting any time the alleged abuser is incarcerated) or they are continuous orders, which have no specific end date.
If an order has an expiration date within five years, the order may be extended through another hearing.
Continuous orders, with no specific end date, are typically issued in cases where the person named in the order has a history of violating court orders, has prior violent felony convictions or felony stalking convictions, or has had a previous final protective order issued against him or her in another state.
If a protective order is in place, the petitioner may attempt to have it vacated; however, it is important to speak to an attorney about the best way to do this.
A person who has had a restraining order issued against him or her may have a number of options for getting it dismissed. The first opportunity comes at the hearing for the final order of protection, during which a defendant and his or her lawyer present evidence that he or she is not a threat and that it is unnecessary for the protection of the plaintiff.
If a protective order has been issued, it is possible to have the record of the VPO expunged after the expiration of the order. Learn more here.
If you have been served with emergency orders or received notice of a protective order hearing, it is important to speak with a lawyer about your case. With proper defense, you may be able to get the order dismissed and prevent final orders being issued against you. If you have a prior restraining order on your record, contact us to find out how to have the record cleared.
If you or a loved one is facing a restraining order in Oklahoma or have questions about removing a restraining order from your record, call the Law Offices of Adam R. Banner, P.C. at (405) 778-4800 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights and any potential consequences that may arise. They can affect your life in many ways, so it is extremely important to contact a lawyer who can guide you through the process and help you achieve the best possible resolution.