Victim Protective Orders, commonly known as VPOs in Oklahoma, are a critical legal recourse for individuals facing dangers such as domestic violence, harassment, stalking, and other forms of abuse. Although a VPO is rightfully intended to protect a vulnerable and fearful person, there can be cases when a person files for a VPO to get revenge on someone or even gain leverage in ongoing legal situations like a custody dispute.

This makes understanding the process of obtaining — and responding — to a VPO essential for anyone involved in such matters.

What Exactly is a VPO?

A Victim Protective Order is a court-issued document designed to shield victims of domestic abuse, harassment, or stalking from further harm. These orders establish enforceable provisions meant to prevent contact or proximity between the victim and the alleged perpetrator. 

VPOs can include various restrictions, such as prohibiting communication, barring physical proximity, or mandating the surrender of firearms.

How to Obtain a VPO

Obtaining a VPO involves several steps, beginning with filing a petition with the appropriate court. In Oklahoma, individuals seeking a VPO typically file their petition in the district court of the county where they reside or where the alleged abuse occurred. The petition should outline the specific incidents of abuse or harassment and the need for protection.

Once the petition is filed, the court will review the allegations and may issue a temporary emergency order if immediate protection is warranted. A hearing will then be scheduled, during which both the petitioner and the respondent have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony. If the court finds sufficient evidence of abuse or harassment, it may grant a final VPO with appropriate provisions to safeguard the petitioner.

Responding to a VPO

If you’re served with a VPO, taking immediate and deliberate action is essential. But know this first: Ignoring or disregarding the order can have serious legal consequences. Do not attempt to contact the person who has filed against you — whether in person or through text, email, social media, etc. Instead, individuals should carefully review the terms of the VPO and seek legal counsel to understand their rights and options.

Respondents to a VPO have the right to contest the allegations and present their defense at the scheduled hearing. This may involve providing evidence to refute the petitioner’s claims or demonstrating that the requested protections are unwarranted. An experienced attorney can guide respondents through the legal process, advocate on their behalf, and work to achieve a fair resolution.

Penalties for violating a VPO in Oklahoma

Penalties for violating a VPO depend on if it’s a first offense (misdemeanor) or subsequent offense (felony):

  • First offense –  A maximum of one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, if the offender injures the person protected by the order, there is a minimum sentence of 20 days in jail in addition to any sentence stemming from a conviction from the assault.
  • Subsequent offense – 1 to 3 years in prison and a $2,000 to $10,000 fine. If injury is involved, a maximum of 5 years in prison and a fine of $3,000 to $10,000.

Your Choice of Legal Representation Matters

The right attorney can make all the difference in your VPO case and its unique circumstances. Overman Legal Group’s dedicated and award-winning attorneys will utilize every legal resource on your behalf until your matter is settled. 

While the majority of VPOs are legitimate and necessary, we understand the difficulties an unjustified VPO can inflict on aspects such as employment, community standing, and personal relationships. Our team has years of experience fighting unwarranted VPOs and defending those wrongfully accused of violating them. We can also aid you in obtaining an expungement from your record if the VPO has been dismissed or expired.

Contact us today for a free consultation.