What is a Victim Protective Order?
A VPO is a court order issued by a judge after a hearing or by default if the defendant fails to appear after being given notice of the hearing. The effect of the court order is to make it a crime for the defendant to do anything forbidden by the terms of the order. Typically that means no communicating (or only communicating by certain means such as text message or about certain topics such as the children of the relationship), no stalking, no harassing, and no assaulting the petitioner (the person who requested the VPO).
What happens if I violate a VPO in Oklahoma?
The penalties for violating a VPO are set out in 22 O.S. §60.6. A first offense in violation of this statute carries 1 year in jail and a $1000.00 fine. A second offense is a felony carrying up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $5000. If the defendant has injured the protected party during the violation of the VPO then the penalty is enhanced, more years in prison and more fines.
If you find yourself in the position of having a VPO entered against you, you should do two things:
- Read the VPO very carefully and understand what it forbids you to do
Follow the terms of the VPO strictly
Does the VPO keep her (or him) from talking to me?
No. The VPO doesn't, by itself, keep a protected party from contacting the person who is the subject of the VPO, but the defendant of a VPO cannot respond. Yes, I know this is stupid, but I didn't write the statute. If you are contacted by someone who you know has a VPO against you, you should hang up and call your lawyer. If they have texted or emailed you, you should not respond. You should collect and save the communications and see your lawyer. Your lawyer can communicate with her (or her counsel if she is represented) and see about whether or not the VPO needs to be modified or vacated, although they cannot call her as a merely a backdoor means of transmitting any communication from you to her.
If the intention of the communication is to bait you into violating the VPO many judges will vacate the VPO, but such bait will not generally deter the district attorney from prosecuting you criminally. If you decide to communicate back, you run the risk of being arrested. Don't do that, talking to her is not worth getting arrested or being on probation or possibly even going to prison over.
When you have a VPO against you, you need to be very careful and strictly follow the rules. Also, keep in mind generally that you may not possess firearms or ammunition. That can land you in federal court and they don't play.