Oklahoma Stalking Laws and Violating a Protective Order

An Oklahoma City woman is accused of stalking and violating a protective order filed against her by her ex-boyfriend in December. Court records show an emergency order of protection was served to Lisa Lynn Harris, 51, on December 10, and two days later, an Oklahoma County judge granted a Victim Protective Order (VPO) barring the woman from contact with the petitioner and his family until December 12, 2019. However, Harris's ex-boyfriend says that since the order was issued, the woman has continued to harass him and his family, sending at least 920 text messages, calling him at work, threatening him, and even leaving a Molotov cocktail in his yard. A misdemeanor charge of stalking was filed against the woman earlier this month for acts dating back to the issuance of the VPO. However, as the acts of alleged stalking have escalated, the district attorney has dismissed the misdemeanor charge and refiled it as a felony. Since the protective order was granted in December, the overwhelming majority of Harris's Facebook updates involve her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend. In fact, in the last 21 hours prior to the writing of this article, the woman made no fewer than 22 posts directly referencing the man or his new girlfriend. While some people use Facebook as the place to air their dirty laundry, it is important to remember that prosecutors can and will use a defendant's social media posts against him or her. If a district attorney wants to make the case that you are obsessed with someone and is seeking a stalking conviction, filling your social media feed with comments about the person is not a good way to disprove the point. State statutes define the Oklahoma stalking law in 21 O.S.§ 1173. Stalking is defined as willful, malicious, and repeated following or acts of harassment that place a person in fear of harm or that would cause a reasonable person to feel "terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested." In general, stalking is a misdemeanor, but if stalking occurs in violation of a protective order or the terms of probation or parole, it becomes a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. A second conviction for stalking within 10 years of the first carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.  A third conviction of stalking in general, or a second conviction of stalking in violation of a protective order carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. If you have been named in a protective order, it is imperative that you comply with the terms of the order and stay away from the petitioner(s). If a VPO is wrongfully filed against you, contact an attorney who can work to dismiss the VPO. Do not try to speak with the petitioner to explain the situation, and do not try to reason with a person who is angry enough to take out a protective order against you. This can only be construed as violation of the protective order and evidence of its need. Call a lawyer as quickly as possible.

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