Can You Expunge a Protective Order in Oklahoma?
Having a victim protective order (VPO) filed against you is serious. It can be just as serious as a criminal conviction in terms of how it affects your life: It can damage your reputation, prevent you from getting a job, and hurt your relationships. Even when you’ve worked on improving yourself and you’re trying to move forward, a victim protective order can follow you as it shows up on background checks and in police records. That’s when you may need to expunge a VPO.
What Is a Victim Protective Order?
A VPO, also called a restraining order or a protective order, is a directive from the Oklahoma court system to stop harassment and violent or threatening behavior. It’s designed to protect a victim in one of two ways:
- Stop a particular behavior toward the victim, like calling, texting, stalking, harassing, assaulting, threatening, or destroying personal property.
- Keep a person away from the victim, including their home, workplace, vehicle, and their childrens’ schools or daycares. This also includes move-out orders, officially called residence exclusion orders.
Victims of any of these behaviors can seek a protective order against the perpetrator. They’re commonly used in cases of child abuse, assault and sexual assault, and domestic abuse. However, they are sometimes used as an inappropriate tool. For example, during a divorce when tensions are high, one party may take out a protective order against the other—even though no threats of violence have actually been made. They have also been used inappropriately to prevent one parent from gaining access to their children.
Can I Expunge a Protective Order in Oklahoma?
Yes, it is possible to expunge a protective order in Oklahoma and legally erase it from the public record—and expungement is often a good idea, because having this on your record can have a major impact on your life. However, the process involves complicated legal procedures, and the outcome isn’t always guaranteed.
Expunging a Protective Order vs. Criminal Case
Expunging a criminal case typically has certain requirements, like completing a probation period, demonstrating good behavior, and avoiding further legal trouble. Expunging a victim protective order is more complex because it involves another party: the protected individual. To expunge a VPO, the protected individual must be notified about the request, and they can oppose the expungement, which can lead to legal challenges or even keep it from happening.
Requirements to Expunge a Protective Order in Oklahoma
According to Oklahoma Statutes Title 22 Section 60.13, you can file to expunge a victim protective order if:
- An ex parte order was issued and at least 90 days have passed since the date that was set for the full hearing
- The protected individual failed to appear for the hearing and at least 90 days have passed since the date last set for the hearing
- The order has been vacated and three years have passed since the order was entered
- Either the petitioner or the defendant has died
You cannot expunge a VPO that’s still in effect. The judge assesses the specific details of your case to determine the length of time that the victim protective order will be in effect, but many judges in Oklahoma opt for the maximum amount of time, which is five years.
In some cases, if the protective order was granted indefinitely over a decade ago, it might also be eligible for expungement. That’s because the law used to allow this, but now requires them to have a specific time frame. Still, this exception isn’t granted very often. It typically applies to those cases where the protective order was granted before the law changed.
How to Expunge a Protective Order in Oklahoma
Once your protective order is dismissed and you’ve waited the required amount of time, you’ll follow this process:
- Prepare the appropriate legal documents and file a petition in court to expunge the protective order.
- Notify the other party and the county’s District Attorney’s Office. Both have a right to file a written objection within 30 days.
- The court will schedule a hearing 30 days or more after both arguments have been filed.
- Interested parties can appear at the hearing, including the district attorney. You’ll also have the chance to argue your case before the judge.
From there, the judge can grant the expungement or deny it. Their decision is based on the merits of the case, the circumstances surrounding the original protective order, and the perceived current risk to the protected party.
Notification Requirements to Expunge a Victim Protective Order
To expunge a VPO, you must notify the other party of your expungement request so they have the opportunity to oppose it. Notification can be a complicated and challenging process, especially if the victim protective order requires no contact between the protected individual and the defendant. It can even be hard to find the other party in order to notify them, which can make the entire process take longer, especially compared to a criminal case.
How an Oklahoma Attorney Can Help Expunge a Protective Order
The process to expunge a protective order in Oklahoma can be time-consuming and complex. An experienced expungement lawyer can help you correctly file the paperwork, communicate with the court, figure out how to notify the other party, and make a good argument at your hearing. A protective order against you is serious business, and hiring a lawyer can also help to show that you also take it seriously.
The Bottom Line
You can expunge a VPO in Oklahoma, but you’ll need to understand the legal requirements and be considerate of the other party’s rights. If you’re ready to prioritize expunging your record, it’s smart to get legal advice and help navigating the process. Contact the Tulsa Expungement Guy for the professional guidance you need and the best chance of having a victim protective order expunged.