If You Violate a Protective Order You Are Committing A Crime.
Okay, so what does it mean to violate a protective order? When somebody files for a protective order, it is effective when it’s served on the defendant. So from that moment, they’re on notice that any violation of it is not just contempt of court like in any other order violation, it is actually a separate criminal offense.
That means that it is prosecuted not by the plaintiff, but by the district attorney. If it were a contempt, that would be prosecuted by the plaintiff. The onus would be on them to file the paperwork, draft it, set it for hearing, all of that. That is not the case here. Since 1982, protective orders have been available in Oklahoma and the whole purpose is to have an enforcement mechanism separate from contempt.
Okay. What happens if you violate a protective order? If a protective order is in place and then it is served, it then becomes effective. It has terms listed in that order. It could say that you have to vacate the house. It could say you have to stay away from the person, stay away from the child, whoever is on the protective order. It could have all of these various terms.
If they’re not complied with, then the other party does not file with the court; the other party calls the police. It’s reported as a crime. The police investigate it. They make a report, they send it to the district attorney. The district attorney then, can file an information and then based on the information, the judge could issue a warrant for arrest. The person’s picked up, goes to jail, and it’s a criminal case.
Okay. So what is the punishment? So for a first offense in Oklahoma, violation of protective order, it is a misdemeanor. It has a possibility up to one year in jail and $1,000 fine. With proper representation, most of the time for a first offense, they don’t do one year in jail, but that is the range of punishment. If you have a prior, if the defendant has a prior conviction for violating a protective order and they get another one, now it’s a felony. It can be charged as a felony with up to three years in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. So it becomes more serious at that point because it could be a felony conviction that haunts you for a very long period of time.
What you want to do is if you are served with a protective order is you want to comply with the protective order. You want to go into court and you want to deal with it in court. You want to be very sure that you don’t violate it and risk the prosecution there. If you’re the plaintiff on a protective order and there’s a violation, big or small, you need to call it in. You cannot give the other side permission to violate a protective order.
Any kind of violation you need to report to the police. Not every violation is prosecuted. It’s ultimately up to the discretion of the officer what they do with it and then the district attorney on whether to file.
But if you’re the plaintiff, it’s important that you not violate your own protective order and undermine it and it’s important to report all violations because even though one violation may not be serious, it could be an incremental step to a more serious one. So you need to report them all.
But don’t take my general advice and my word for it here. For your specific circumstances, talk to an attorney that can talk about your specifics. If you want to talk with me, give me a call, 918-879-1681 or you can reach me through my website, wirthlawoffice.com.