Do Not Go To Court Without an Attorney
Video Transcribed: What are some of the pitfalls that you face if you have a protective order out against you? My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am a Tulsa Father’s Rights Attorney with the fourth law office at dads.law.
And today, I want to talk to you guys about some pitfalls that you face if there is an emergency protective order out against you. Some things I see happen from time to time, a big one is you will get situations where the person who filed the protective order, will attempt to contact the subject of the protective order.
Either they’ll text or they’ll call or they’ll try to go by their house. And a lot of guys take this as, “Oh well, they’re violating their own protective order. So there should be some consequence to them or that means it’s okay for me to communicate with them.” Here’s the thing to understand about that situation.
The person filing the protective order cannot violate their own protective order. However, if you interact with that person, you can still be criminally charged. In fact, you could be criminally charged even if that person doesn’t want you criminally charged because it’s not their call, it’ll be up to the district attorney’s office.
So the long and short of it is, do not fall for that trap. Make sure that you do not interact with someone who has filed a protective order against you, no matter what, even if they make an overture to you. Another pitfall I see people falling into a lot is showing up to court without a lawyer and thinking they’re going to defend themselves. Bad idea.
There are a variety of ways that can go really, really badly for you. And although protective order hearings may seem like simple proceedings and you may be thinking, “Well, I’ll just go tell the truth and the judge will see this is bullshit.”
Here’s the problem you run into. Unless you are very familiar with the grounds, the statutory grounds under which a protective order can issue, you really don’t know it is you’re actually trying to defend against. It’s a low burden of proof. This isn’t a criminal court.
This is basically a civil court and it’s a preponderance standard, not beyond a reasonable doubt. And you can think of a preponderance standard as basically a shorthand way of saying, if there’s a 51% chance that one side is right, then the court can rule in that person’s favor.
So it’s a much lower burden of proof than criminal court. And you’re dealing with a judge and not a jury. And you’re dealing with a judge who, number one, these are busy dockets, which means the judge is in a hurry.
And number two, they see a lot of horror stories and they get jaded. And there’s a tendency sometimes if you don’t know how to present your case correctly, to assume the worst and rubber stamp that protective order.
So you really, really, really don’t want to try to defend yourself without a lawyer. Also, another thing I see happening more often than I would like is situations where you’ll have specific facts pled into court. But then in the course of the hearing, something comes out that wasn’t brought up in the pleadings. And if you don’t know to object to that, then it comes into evidence and it becomes fair game for the court to consider.
When you’re on defense in these cases, they have to be played very, very strategically, and if you don’t know exactly how the statutes interact with each other and how the judge is likely to handle a given situation and what the evidentiary rules are in a given situation, you can’t possibly expect to effectively defend yourself. So, that’s another pitfall.
Another pitfall that I see from time to time is, you’re out from under the emergency, you’ve won the protective order hearing, there’s no final protective order. And you get people who think, “Oh, well they have my kids, so now I can go reach out to them to see my kids, right?” Wrong, bad idea, bad, bad, bad, bad. If you have children involved in a situation like that, even after you’ve beaten a protective order, the correct way to get to see your kid’s issue is to go get a court order.
Now, if there is a visitation order already in place, that’s different. But if you’re dealing with a situation where there’s no visitation order in place, get a visitation order and make sure it spells out the time, place, and manner for pick up and drop off.
Don’t randomly contact this person. Just because you beat the protective order on whatever they alleged last time, doesn’t mean that if you reach out to them again, they can’t refile the protective order, and this time it may stick. So it’s a good rule even after the protective order is gone, stay the hell away from that person. Do not try to contact them.
The point in trying to beat the protective order isn’t so that you can go back and interact with that person, it’s so your rights aren’t constrained. That is your right to have a relationship with your children, if you have children with that person, or even if you don’t, if you have children with somebody else, it’s your right to possess a weapon and your reputation.
If someone files that kind of legal process against you, that person is not someone to be trusted and you definitely don’t want to interact with them, even if the protective order ultimately is dismissed or gets dropped. It’s a bad idea because they’ve already proven that they’re willing to file a legal process against you.
Another pitfall that I want to identify for you guys, is weapons, specifically firearms. If you get an emergency protective order in Oklahoma, most of the time, the order will include a provision that says you cannot be in possession of firearms or ammunition, or other weapons.
So, one thing to be aware of is if you like many Oklahomans possess firearms, even if it’s just an old deer rifle, if you have one of these served on you, you need to surrender those to law enforcement or get them out of your possession where you can’t get them back until after the PO is over with.
And this is again where you want to talk to a really good lawyer about this so they can advise you it’s the best way to do that and keep your right to get the weapon back later when the protective order’s gone. But while it’s active, even if it’s an emergency protective order, do not have weapons in your possession.
And my advice is even if the order doesn’t expressly prohibit it, you probably still don’t want to have weapons in your possession, because it just does not… The optics of that are bad. And if it comes out to your protective order court judge later, that you have weapons, that might scare them enough to make them want to enter that order.
And the final order will strip you of your right to possess a firearm under federal law, regardless of its terms. So you definitely don’t want to be in possession of weapons while there’s an emergency protective order out against you.
Another thing to be aware of is if you hear from the police for any reason, while you’re subject to a protective order, and this is generally a good rule anyway if you have an encounter with cops where you didn’t initiate it, shut your mouth, because you can assume they’re probably investigating you for a crime. Most of the grounds that would justify a protective order, would also constitute a crime pursuant to the Oklahoma Criminal Law.
So understand that and do not talk to the cops. And by the way, that includes the cop who serves you. Protective orders are served by the sheriff. Don’t talk to the deputy, shut it, accept the papers, go on about your business, shut your mouth, because you don’t know whether or not you’re being investigated for a crime.
And you should assume you are, and you do not want to take a bad situation and make it worse by jamming yourself up criminally. So shut your mouth. You’re not talking your way out of it. And the only thing you run the risk of doing is getting yourself into worse trouble.
And this goes to if you hear from the police, and they’re saying that they’re investigating whether or not you violated this protective order, shut it and lawyer up, ask for a lawyer, shut your mouth, don’t talk to them.
Because you’re not talking your way out of it, but you could definitely talk your way into trouble. And if you are facing an Oklahoma protective order, you need legal assistance immediately. One place you can get legal help is at dads.law where fathers are not disposable.