A Victim Protective Order, commonly known as a VPO, is a court order issued by a judge that prevents contact between two or more persons. In Oklahoma, a VPO may impose a variety of restrictions on the person it’s placed against. Most commonly the VPO prohibits a person from having contact of any kind (in-person, telephone, e-mail, texting, etc.) with the person who requested the VPO (called the petitioner). In Oklahoma, the judge has flexibility to impose a variety of restrictions to stop harassment, stalking, or domestic abuse complained-of by the petitioner. For example, if the harassment endangers an animal, the VPO may order the petitioner to take temporary custody of the animal and limit or deny the defendant’s access to the pet. Also serious, the judge hearing the VPO may require the defendant to wear a GPS-monitoring device and allow the petitioner to track the defendant’s whereabouts. The VPO can last a total of five (5) years before the petitioner has to return to court to renew it.Who Can Get a VPO in Oklahoma?
Any victim of domestic abuse, stalking, harassment, or rape can apply for a VPO. Additionally, any adult or emancipated minor household member on behalf of any other family or household member who is a minor or incompetent may seek a VPO. Victims of harassment must be a family or household member, or been in a dating relationship with the defendant in order to obtain a VPO. By contrast, victims of stalking do not have to be a family or household member or been in a dating relationship with the defendant to obtain a VPO. But if a person complaining of harassment does not have such a relationship with the defendant, they must file a police report before filing a VPO petition.When Does an Emergency VPO Begin?
The judge may issue a temporary, emergency VPO before the defendant is served and a hearing is held. This emergency VPO remains in place until a hearing is held (it could last several weeks). If you become aware that a VPO has been filed against you, it is imperative that you determine whether or not the temporary emergency order went into place against you. Violating a temporary order is considered very serious and a violation of criminal law. Call today to schedule a consult with a criminal defense lawyer at Duncan & Hill Law Firm to help uncover this information and go over your rights to a hearing.Do I Need an Attorney if I Have a VPO Filed Against Me?
The short answer is—yes. Being represented at your VPO hearing is crucial so that you can properly admit evidence and give your testimony effectively. If the VPO is granted, it has serious implications. An attorney can help explain what actions are allowed under the VPO and what constitutes a violation. For example, many clients with VPOs believe they are free to respond to the person who obtained the VPO against them if that person initiates the contact. This is not true, and a defendant who makes this mistake can quickly find themselves being arrested. A lawyer can help both prevention of a VPO, and advise how to avoid future legal troubles.
In addition, you should absolutely hire an attorney to defend you at the VPO hearing and potentially prevent the VPO from being entered. If a VPO is entered, it is a matter of public record and can subject a person to arrest if he or she violates the VPO (or is suspected of violating the VPO).
Even if a VPO is not entered, the fact that it was ever filed is still a matter of public record, which can prevent you from access to jobs, higher education and many other opportunities. If a VPO is filed but not granted, it can be expunged by an attorney. Call us at Duncan & Hill Law Firm today to consult with a criminal defense lawyer about whether your VPO filing is eligible for expungement.