Protective orders are some of the least understood, most abused legal procedures in Oklahoma. One possible reason for this is that protective orders are very easy to obtain. Anyone who wants to file a protective order can go to a police station or the courthouse and, without the assistance of a lawyer, write out any accusation against anyone and obtain a protective order. Another possible reason that protective orders are misunderstood and abused is that there are generally no consequences for a person who files a false or exaggerated protective order. The law prohibits the judge from assessing attorney fees against the petitioner unless the judge finds that the protective order was "frivolous," which is a very rare finding.
Because protective orders are so easily obtained and there are almost no consequences for overstating or misstating facts, every day courtrooms are filled with protective order petitioners and defendants who are not represented by counsel. This is a mistake for each side. Even though the protective order is easy to get initially, at the hearing, courtroom rules of evidence and procedure apply. This means a petitioner who needs a protective order and is unrepresented may have difficulty obtaining a protective order due to being unprepared to present their evidence. It also means that a defendant who is unrepresented and falsely accused may end up with a life-changing permanent protective order against them, impacting their job, their hobbies, and their parental rights.
Federal law prohibits protective order defendants from possessing firearms or ammunition, even during the temporary stage before the defendant has ever had a chance to present his or her side of the case to the judge. Oklahoma law says that if a protective order has issued against someone who is a parent, that parent's time with his or her children must now be supervised -- even if the person who filed the protective order is not the other parent, and even if the allegations do not involve anything to do with children. Many professions do not permit their employees or licensees to work if a protective order shows up on a background check. Oklahoma law also makes it illegal for a parent to file for a protective order simply to obtain an advantage in their own custody case. Recently, Oklahoma law has developed to assure each side to a protective order the ability to request "discovery" from the other side to obtain information related to the allegations in the protective order case. For all these reasons and more, if you are involved in a protective order case, you need the advice and representation of a skilled courtroom trial lawyer.