In an attempt to protect victims of domestic violence from their abusers or to stop acts of harassment and stalking, Oklahoma courts allow those who claim to be victims of such abuse or intimidation to obtain a Victim Protective Order (VPO). A VPO, often referred to as a restraining order, places restrictions on the subject that prevent him or her from contacting, communicating with, or entering the presence of the alleged victim who requests the order.
While a mere piece of paper cannot prevent a senseless act of violence, it can, however, provide documentation of serious allegations of abuse, and it can levy stiff penalties on anyone accused of violating a protective order.
Unfortunately, in some situations, a VPO is not used for its intended purpose to protect a victim, but instead is used as a tool to punish a person against whom the accuser has a grudge. Ex-boyfriends or girlfriends may be accused of stalking or harassment by a vindictive former partner. Divorcing spouses may use an allegation of abuse to gain an advantage in a custody dispute.
If you are subject to an emergency protective order or a permanent VPO, it is important to seek qualified legal counsel at once. An attorney may be able to prevent an order from being filed in the first place or may be able to have an existing order dismissed.
When you are placed under restriction by a VPO filed against you, it is imperative that you do not violate the VPO in any way, even if you feel it is an unfair order. Abide by the order while your attorney challenges the VPO. Otherwise, you face additional criminal penalties.
Violating a Victim's Protective Order
A VPO prevents an accused stalker or abuser from contacting the victim in any way. Often, this does not merely represent the person's inability to come within a designated distance of the victim, but also includes phone calls, written communication, email, leaving gifts or other objects for the victim, and any other form of contact.
If someone has taken out a restraining order against you, even a simple phone call to try to clear things up can lead to a criminal charge for violating a protective order.
The penalties for violation of a protective order are outlined in 22 O.S. § 60.6:
- First offense - misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000
- Second or subsequent offense – felony punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison and a fine ranging from $2,000 to $10,000
- If the subject injures the victim in violation of a protective order, he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor that carries a minimum sentence of 20 days in jail with a maximum of one year and a fine of up to $1,000
- A second or subsequent offense of injuring a victim in violating a protective order is a felony punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison and fines from $3,000 to $10,000.
The penalties for causing injury or physical impairment while violating a protective order are in addition to any penalties associated with the assault that inflicted the injury.
Furthermore, anyone convicted of violating a protective order must undergo court-ordered counseling or treatment designed to end the domestic abuse, stalking, or harassment.
If someone has filed a VPO against you, do not attempt to handle the situation on your own. Call a lawyer who can represent your interests and work to have any order against you lifted. If you are criminally charged for violating such an order, get legal counsel and defense representation immediately.
Expunging the Record of a VPO
A criminal history report shows not only records of arrests, convictions, and court proceedings, but also record of a Victim Protective Order filed against you. Just as a criminal record of conviction can show up in a background check and inhibit your employment opportunities and smear your reputation, so can record of a VPO. Fortunately, for those who have been subject to a VPO in the past, it is possible to have record of that order expunged. A VPO expungement can help you put the past behind you, whether that record was the result of your personal mistakes or the false accusations of a vengeful person. Call (405) 418-8888 to find out how you can have your VPO expunged or for representation in any matter pertaining to a Victim Protective Order.
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