Victim Protective Order (VPO):
A Victim Protective Order (VPO) is a civil remedy that is available to people who are victims of violent or harassing behavior in order to keep such persons away from the victim. The victim, known as the Petitioner, in a VPO case must file for a Protection Order with the court. There are two parties in a VPO, the Petitioner and the Defendant. There can be multiple Petitioners and/or multiple Defendants.
I have represented both victims and defendants in VPO hearings and secured favorable outcomes for my clients.
Who is eligible for a VPO?
Under the following circumstances a Petitioner may seek a VPO from the Court:
- Victim of Domestic Violence/Abuse
- Victim of Harassment
- Victim of Stalking
- Victim of Rape
- Family or Household Member of the Minor Child/Children listed above
- First Degree Murder – Petitioner is an immediate family member of a victim of First-Degree Murder, and Defendant has been charged and convicted of that crime.
There must be some sort of relationship that exists between the parties, otherwise certain acts must have already occurred in order for the Court to grant a VPO.
Where to File?
When filing a VPO jurisdiction must be correct. This means that the court must have legal authority over the matter. There are three circumstances for jurisdiction:
- Petitioner is a resident of the county wherein the Petition is filed
- Defendant is a resident of the County wherein the Petition is filed
- The domestic abuse occurred in the county wherein the Petition is filed
The definition of Stalking is found in 22 O.S. §60.1(9). Stalking means the malicious, and repeated following or harassment of a person by an adult, emancipated minor, or minor thirteen (13) years of age or older, in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to feel frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested and actually causes the a reasonable person to feel frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested and actually causes the person being followed or harassed to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested.
Stalking also means a course of conduct composed of a series of two or more separate acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose or unconsented contact with a person that is initiated or continued without the consent of the individual or in disregard of the expressed desire of the individual that the contact be avoided or discontinued. Unconsented contact or course of conduct includes, but is not limited to:
- following or appearing within the sight of that individual,
- approaching or confronting that individual in a public place or on private property,
- appearing at the workplace or residence of that individual,
- entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or occupied by that individual,
- contacting that individual by telephone,
- sending mail or electronic communications to that individual, or
- placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased or occupied by that individual.
** If the Petitioner is not a family or household member, or in a dating relationship with Defendant, the Petition must have filed a stalking complaint against the Defendant before filing a petition.
Harassment is a knowing and willful course or pattern of conduct by a family or household member or an individual who is or has been involved in a dating relationship with the person, directed at a specific person that seriously alarms or annoys the person, and which serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress, and must actually cause substantial distress to the person. Harassment shall include, but not be limited to, harassing or obscene telephone calls, and fear of death by bodily injury.
How to Get a VPO:
There are essentially two ways to get a VPO put in a place against a Defendant
- Emergency temporary ex parte order -22 O.S. §40.3 – this is put in place when a courthouse is closed and the Petitioner is the victim of stalking, harassment, rape, forcible sodomy, a sex offense, kidnapping, or assault and battery with a deadly weapon or member of the immediate family of a victim of first-degree murder may request a petition for an emergency temporary order of protection.
The Peace officer making the preliminary investigation shall provide the victim or member of the immediate family of a victim of first-degree murder with a petition for an emergency temporary order of protection, and may even assist in filling out the petition form. The peace officer will then immediately notify, by telephone or otherwise, a judge of the district court and describe the circumstances. The judge will then decide whether or not to grant the emergency temporary order, and the victim or family member will then be informed of the decision. If granted, the subject of the emergency temporary order will then be notified of the order and the conditions. A copy of the petition and statement of the officer attesting to the order of the judge will then be made available to the person. Emergency temporary ex parte orders shall be heard within fourteen (14) days after issuance.
- Emergency ex parte order – 22 O.S. §60.3 – the court shall hold an ex parte hearing on the same day that a petition is filed, if the court finds sufficient grounds within the scope of the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act stated in the petition to hold such a hearing. The court may, for good cause shown at the hearing, issue any emergency ex parte order that it finds necessary to protect the victim from immediate and present danger of domestic abuse, stalking, or harassment. The emergency ex parte order shall be in effect until after the full hearing is conducted. Provided, if the defendant, after having been served, does not appear at the hearing, the emergency ex parte order shall remain in effect until the defendant is served with the permanent order. If the terms of the permanent order are the same as those in the emergency order, or are less restrictive, then it is not necessary to serve the defendant with the permanent order.