Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale explains the process in Oklahoma Victim Protective Order (VPO) matters. The law changes from time to time. So seek the advice of an attorney.
First Things First | Never Consent To A VPO
I*ve been in court countless times and a judge will ask the defendant if he contests the VPO petition or agrees to it. A lot of people will agree to it without fully understanding the consequences. I*ve handled a lot of these cases. Sometimes I get them dismissed or lessen their impact.
Who Can File For A Protective Order
Under Oklahoma*s Protection from Domestic Abuse Act, only a certain category of people can file for a protective order. I*ve broken it down into three groups or categories.
For the first group or category, it has to be someone who alleges that they are a victim of domestic abuse, stocking, harassment, and/or rape.
The second group deals with someone who is filing on behalf of another person. Under the law, any adult household member can file on behalf of any of other family or household member who is a minor or incompetent and is a victim of domestic abuse, stocking, harassment, and/or rape. An example of an incompetent person could be somebody that has dementia or some kind of developmental delay.
The third group is any minor who is 16 or 17 years old and alleges to be a victim of domestic abuse, stocking, harassment, and/or rape. So, if a person does not fall within at least one of those categories, and he or she is not eligible to file for a petition for protective order.
Where a Victim*s Protective Order (VPO) Petition Can Be Filed
A petition for victim*s protective order can*t be filed in just any court. The law states that there are three areas or places where the petition can be filed. It can be filed in the District Court of the county in which: 1) the alleged victim resides; 2) the defendant resides; or 3) the alleged domestic violence occurred.
What Happens After Filing The VPO Petition
What typically happens after the victim*s protective order petition is filed is what*s called an ex parte hearing. Ex parte is a Latin term meaning from or by a party. Ex parte hearings are hearings where just one party to the case is heard. If any order comes out a hearing it is a temporary order because the other side has not had an opportunity to be heard.
At the ex parte hearing, the judge can either grant or deny relief. If granted, an emergency protective order (EPO) will be issued this is a temporary protective order. A full hearing to allow both sides to be heard must be set within 14 days from when the petition was filed.
Service of the EPO and Petition Upon the Defendant
Next, the temporary Emergency Protective Order and the Petition for Protective Order must be served to the defendant. There will also be a notice of hearing showing the date, time, and location of the full hearing. Service is usually done by a sheriff*s deputy.
If you get served with an EPO and Petition, I suggest three things:
1) don*t say anything to the deputy;
2) don*t talk about the situation with anyone except a lawyer; and
3) Call an experienced criminal defense or VPO attorney.
What Happens at the Full Hearing
The next step is to have a full hearing. The defendant can agree to a victim*s protective order being granted. Don*t do this! There are serious consequences to having a victim*s protective order granted against you.
A hearing will be held if both sides show up, and the defendant contests the petition for protective order. After hearing testimony and receiving evidence, the judge will either dismiss the petition for protective order, in which case nothing happens to the defendant, or grant the petition for protective order and issue an order of protection. Within the order for protection there will be additional orders and restrictions on the defendant.
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