Tulsa Restraining Order Lawyer
Victims of crimes like domestic violence, stalking, or harassment can sometimes feel like they have nowhere to turn for help. Fortunately, Oklahoma law does have a pathway to protection for these victims. Restraining orders, also known as victim protective orders, require the perpetrators of these kinds of behavior to stay away from their victims. Violations of these orders result in very serious consequences, and they are almost always an effective deterrent.
If you think that you may need a protective order, then you’re in a situation where you can’t leave anything up to chance. You need to know that you’re putting forth the strongest argument you can for your protection. To do that, you’ll need to work with a skilled, experienced lawyer like those you’ll find at Stange Law Firm.
What a Restraining Order Does
A restraining order lists certain activities that are prohibited for an individual to engage in on the basis of their treatment of another person. This is typically because of domestic violence, although it could also be the result of stalking or harassment. Violations of these orders can often have very serious consequences. The orders given to the defendant by a judge will depend upon the particulars of each case, though they may include:
- Prohibit any kind of contact with the individual who petitioned for the protective order.
- If the parties live together, then the defendant will be made to vacate the residence.
- If there are children involved, contact with them may also be prohibited, and custody will be given to the petitioner.
- The defendant could be ordered to pay the court costs, attorney fees, and other expenses incurred by the petitioner.
- Counseling sessions or therapy sessions may be ordered for the defendant.
- The defendant will be required to turn over any firearms or other dangerous weapons and be prohibited from possessing any.
- The defendant may be asked to give a shared pet up to the petitioner or child of the petitioner. They will be prohibited from having contact with the pet and told not to injure or harm the pet.
- Billing responsibilities may be transferred to the petitioner.
Three Kinds of Protective Orders
There are three different kinds of protective orders in Oklahoma, each addressing a different part of the protective order process:
- Emergency Temporary Protective Order – This kind of order exists only for occasions when courts are closed and an emergency protective order is needed. It only lasts until the courts are open again and the standard process can be followed
- Emergency Ex-Parte Protective Order – These are initial protective orders that are given by the court until a full hearing can be had.
- Final Protective Order – These are the full protective orders. They last for years, and if requested, another hearing can be held before they come to an end so that they can be extended.
Who Can Apply for a Protective Order?
Protective orders are meant to protect individuals who are victims of three different kinds of behaviors:
This offense involves a defined relationship between abuser and victim, but it is the act of:
- Causing physical harm to another
- Attempting to cause physical harm
- Threatening imminent physical harm
Harassment is behavior and conduct that targets another individual and serves no legitimate purpose. In other words, it’s behavior done solely for the purpose of causing fear on the part of the victim or for the perverse pleasure of the perpetrator. Things like obscene telephone calls and threatening messages generally fall into this category. Except for very rare occasions, harassment is typically not an isolated incident but rather a consistent pattern of conduct.
A lawyer can help establish for the court that it is a pattern. The standard of harassment is that the conduct must cause emotional distress in the victim. However, to be fair to the accused, it must also meet the standard of being something that would lead a “reasonable person” to feel emotional distress.
Unlike domestic violence or harassment, stalking does not require a particular category of relationship between the petitioner and the defendant. Stalking is defined by repeated behavior of following or harassing in a willful, malicious, and repeated manner. The behavior must be behavior that would make a reasonable person feel:
For conduct to be stalking, it must also be multiple separate acts of a person initiating contact with the petitioner that is either not consented to or in disregard of their expressed desire to not interact with the defendant. The interval between the multiple acts does not need to be a long period of time, but the acts must establish that the defendant was purposeful and appeared to be likely to continue the behavior. Some possible examples of unconsented contact or conduct include:
- Confrontation with or approaching the petitioner, either on private property or a public place
- Showing up either where the petitioner lives or where they work
- Following the petitioner or appearing within their sight
- Calling the petitioner
- Contacting the petitioner through mail or electronic means, including text messages
- Coming onto a property that is owned, leased, or occupied by the petitioner
- Remaining on the petitioner’s property after being asked to leave
- Leaving an object on the property of the petitioner
Relationships Involving Protective Orders
The petition for a protective order must typically be directed toward an adult, an emancipated minor, or a minor of 13 years of age or older. In the case of stalking, there are no requirements regarding the relationship between the two parties. However, in cases of domestic violence or harassment, there are specified relationships that can be considered:
- Dating relationships (This is hard to define, but it must be more than a casual acquaintance.)
- An ex-spouse’s current spouse
- Parents, grandparents, stepparents, adoptive parents, and foster parents
- Children, grandchildren, stepchildren, adoptive children, and foster children
- Other relationships by blood or marriage
- People living in the same household or who used to live in the same household
- Biological parents of the same child, regardless of relationship history
Additionally, an immediate family member of a first-degree murder victim may seek a victim protective order against:
- The person who was charged and convicted of first-degree murder
- The person who was charged and convicted of being an accessory to a first-degree murder
How to Get a Protective Order
The first step to getting a protective order is understanding where the petition can be filed. There are three jurisdictions where this can be done:
- The county where the petitioner is a resident
- The county where the defendant is a resident
- The county where domestic abuse has occurred
An emergency temporary protective order is gotten when the court is not open. This process is initiated by contacting law enforcement and explaining the need for the order. The officer will then likely reach out to a judge, who will either approve or disapprove the order. The officer will then first inform the petitioner of the claim, then serve the order to the individual who is subject to the order.
An emergency ex-parte protective order can be sought when the courthouse is open. The petitioner will need to fill out a “Petition for Protective Order” form. The court will, on the same day, hold an ex-parte hearing, which is meant to determine if a full hearing needs to occur. If the court does find that there is enough evidence to warrant a full hearing, then they will issue an emergency ex-parte protective order, which will take effect until a full hearing can be held.
The burden of proof for a temporary order is not as high as for a full protective order. However, the chances of a petition being approved depend on how clearly and concisely it expresses the necessity for the order.
Working with a lawyer from Stange Law Firm could better the odds of your petition being approved. We have experience understanding what will make for a concise petition without the excess that might distract from the need. To put together this petition, we will need a variety of information regarding the abuser, including their:
- Phone number
- License plate number
- The make and model of their car
- Any gun ownership information or drug abuse history
We will also need to discuss the recent abuse, stalking, or harassment that you’ve experienced.
Penalties for Violating a Protective Order
A violation of a protective order is charged as a criminal act. An initial violation is treated as a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year in jail, a maximum $1000 fine, or both the fine and jail sentence. Subsequent violations are upgraded to felony charges. These result in imprisonment for at least one year and up to three, a minimum fine of $2000 up to $10,000, or both the prison sentence and fine.
If the violation of the order results in physical injury to the petitioner, the consequences are enhanced. In these cases, a first offense is generally still a misdemeanor but carries a penalty of at least twenty days in jail and up to a year, a fine as high as $5000, or both the jail time and fine. Any subsequent violations that cause an injury to the petitioner are penalized with a prison sentence of between one and five years, a fine of between $3000 and $10,000, or both the fine and prison sentence.
Violations of protective orders are not eligible for deferment, suspended sentencing, or probation. In some cases, the court may order the defendant to attend counseling or even wear a 24-hour GPS device.
Other Consequences of Violating a Protective Order
Beyond just the legal consequences, these violations create a criminal record, which comes with its own set of extralegal consequences. A criminal record can make many of the elements of normal life difficult, if not impossible. The criminal record appears on background checks. This can make things like getting employment, finding a place to rent, getting into a university, and getting a line of credit very difficult. Furthermore, it can disqualify you from things like certain student loan programs and professional licenses.
Protective Order Hearings
A full victim protective order hearing is scheduled within 14 days of your filing a petition for a protective order. However, the hearing could be scheduled for as soon as 72 hours if the emergency ex-parte order suspended child visitation rights. This may happen in the case of physical violence or threats of abuse. At a hearing, the petitioner will have the opportunity to present a fuller case for a protective order. The defendant, though, can also cross-examine and present their side as well.
Working with an attorney to prove your case can significantly boost your odds of approval for a court order. They can help you gather evidence. To prove a case, a variety of evidence can be helpful, including:
- Police reports
- Photographic or video evidence of things like injuries or household damage that occurred as a result of domestic violence
- 911 records and call audio
- Audio recordings of incidents and telephone calls
- Witness testimony
- Anything else that might be pertinent to the case
Your lawyer can use this evidence, along with any notes and details of the abuse, stalking, or harassment that you can provide. We can put together a clear picture of your need for a protective order and represent your case before the judge. It’s our goal to see that you get protection and freedom from these abuses.
Let Us Help You Seek the Protection You Need
If you need a restraining order, then you’re in an already tremendously stressful and frightening situation. The last thing you need is extra stress trying to figure out how to get the protection that you’re seeking. Oklahoma law offers the protection of restraining, or protective, orders. The process of getting them, though, is not always as straightforward as we might wish.
At Stange Law Firm, we can help you request the protection you need. We understand how difficult the situation you are in must be, and we want to make the process as little a burden on you as we can while still helping you get the security that you need. If you need help seeking protective orders, contact us today.
Tulsa County (Tulsa), Oklahoma Office (918-723-2008) | 6660 S. Sheridan Road, Suite 240, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74133