Don’t Escalate The Situation
Video Transcribed: I am a Tulsa father’s rights attorney. Today I want to talk to you guys about how to respond to a threat. And I think you can boil threats down, from an attorney standpoint, down to two types of threats. There are legal threats, and then there are any other kinds of threats.
Legal threats are exactly that. It’s a threat to take some kind of legal action, whether it’s, “I’m going to call the cops, I’m going to call DHS, I’m going to file an emergency motion. I’m going to get a writ. I’m going to sue you.” Those are legal threats. And legal threats, generally speaking, if someone makes a legal threat, you should take it seriously. And the initial first self-help thing is whatever led to the legal threat, you should make sure you fully understand, okay, this is what led to this legal threat.
Now, doesn’t necessarily mean you cease and desist. It really is very, very fact-specific whether you cease and desist or not because just because they make a legal threat, doesn’t mean they’re in a really good position to follow through. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re looking at negative consequences. It really depends. And that brings me to where you do want to talk to a lawyer about legal threats.
What about non-legal threats? And non-legal threats can be anything from the threat to withhold visitation or withhold child support all the way up to violence. Non-legal threats, typically the way you respond are somewhat dependent on the threat. But it is important not to make a threat back.
If a legal threat needs to occur in response to a non-legal threat, this is where you really want to get a lawyer involved and have them do it. Because what you don’t want is to create a situation where she can argue that you threatened her in a way that is non-legal and use it to predicate a protective order. It’s very important that you keep that in mind.
I think the correct response, anytime you receive a threat of any kind, is to cease and desist communications with the individual who threatened you until such a time as you can consult with legal help. Don’t threaten back. Never threaten back. If a threat needs to be made that is a legal threat, that’s why you get a lawyer. But threatening back yourself is risky. I’ve seen clients that get jammed up on protective orders because of making legal threats. So the best thing you can do in that situation is to get help.
Also, if you’re dealing with a situation where somebody’s made a serious threat that threatens your safety, get law enforcement involved immediately. Somebody threatens you with violence, you should call law enforcement right away.
You always take that seriously, whether you think that they’re really going to follow or not. Because if it’s a one in a hundred chance that they will follow through, you don’t want to be the one that loses that bad.
So if it’s a serious non-legal threat like violence, or, “I’m going to take something,” or whatever, you may want to get law enforcement involved. Certainly a threat of violence. You may also want to look at a protective order. And those are things… You can go file a petition for a protective order on your own. You generally want to get a lawyer involved to prosecute, but the forms are simple enough.
They’re designed to be done by pro se litigants. So it is theoretically possible to draw it up on your own. And if you feel your physical safety is being jeopardized, that may be what you want to do. Although, understand that the protective order is really only as good as your willingness to enforce it.
Also, understand that this is not a tool to use to get custody of children or a tool to use to get revenge because somebody pissed you off. What I’m talking about here is if someone makes a serious threat of violence against you, Those are some things you can do, and this is kind of how you want to respond to threats. Definitely don’t escalate back. Don’t make a threat back. If the person’s threatened you, it’s time to end the conversation. It’s time to leave. If you’re physically present leave. And that includes a legal threat. Leave immediately and don’t say anything. If it’s a threat made by telephone, end the call.
If it’s the threat by text message, save the text message, but don’t respond. Same with any threatening email. Save it, don’t respond. If you come across a threat on social media, again, save it, don’t respond. If a response needs to occur, this is where you want counsel. And if you do ever find yourself in a situation you’ve been threatened in any way, then you should go to dads.law and talk to us. At dads.law, fathers are not disposable.