Navigating Your First Protective Order Hearing
So, you’ve been served with the protective order, and you’re about to go to court for the first time. What can you expect? My name is Brian L. Jackson. I’m a Tulsa dads’ rights lawyer here with Dads.Law, where fathers are not disposable, and we’re going to talk about what to expect from the first hearing.
Now, statutorily speaking, if a PO court enters, an emergency PO, they’re required to have a hearing on, and the statute says a full hearing on the PO within so many days. However, in interpreting that statute, the appellate courts of Oklahoma have determined that full doesn’t mean final.
So the hearing could consist of, you know, the court calls the docket, they call your name, you stand up. The court gives you a date for a trial in the merits, or it could be you stand up and say, I want time to get a lawyer, I want time to do discovery, etc. So in other words, your first appearance may very well not be trial in the merits, although you should certainly show up prepared with an idea of what you want to do when you get there.
Why You Shouldn’t Just Agree to the Protective Order
What you probably don’t want to do is just say, yeah, fine, enter the PO, I don’t care, without consulting with a lawyer first. One thing to understand about these POs is they have more, a final PO has more serious consequences than a lot of criminal misdemeanors.
If you get convicted, I’ll give you an example. If you take a conviction for a petty theft crime, let’s say you were shoplifted, and assuming that the value of whatever it is you stole wasn’t high enough to get you into felony territory, you still have your voting right, well, I should say you still have, having been convicted, your gun rights are intact, and it wouldn’t have a serious impact on your right to your children.
If you’re the subject of a final protective order, you are prohibited under federal and state law from having a firearm, you can’t have a carry permit either, by the way, and it will negatively impact your right to have unsupervised contact with your children because of some provisions under Title 43. So it’s a big deal, and it should be taken seriously, so getting back to that first hearing, don’t just say, sure, fine, I don’t care, because the consequences later could be something you regret.
Seeking Legal Counsel and the Importance of Discovery
If you’re not represented, ask for time to get counsel. At the very least, you want to talk to a lawyer before you make a decision about what to do. If you are represented, your attorney is more than likely going to ask for time to do discovery, and they’ll set it out for a trial on the merits with enough time to do discovery, and discovery is important in protective orders.
You do have the right to do it, and you generally want to get all the evidence on the table ahead of that trial on the merits so that you don’t get blindsided with something that you weren’t expecting. Also, that’s a good way to prevent one of the most common tactics that I see in protective order court, which is sling as much shit at the wall as you can in the hopes that something sticks.
One of the things you can do with discovery is you can compel the other side to spell out every single reason why they think they are entitled to a protective order. You can also ask them things like, you can ask them to admit or deny that the pleadings they filed in the P.O. are a complete recitation of all the grounds and facts they would cite for why they think they’re entitled to a P.O.
One of the things to be aware of is that P.O.s are an example of what’s called a fact-pled cause of action, and what that means in layman’s terms is you actually have to spell out in detail why you think you’re entitled to that relief, specifically, why should I give you a P.O.? Spell it out here.
Preparing for the Hearing and the Importance of Legal Representation
That’s important because there is a way to make sure that they don’t get to sling shit at the wall randomly based on those pleadings and based on what you do with discovery. You want to do that so you don’t get blindsided. You don’t want to just concede, and you probably don’t want to put a hearing on at the first court appearance.
You want that time to get counsel, or if you have counsel, you want them to put it off long enough to do discovery and get all your ducks in a row before you go to trial on the merits. That’s kind of what you can expect. You may be there for a while. P.O. dockets are usually pretty busy, so you may end up pulling your heels for a while, especially if you’re there without a lawyer, because they usually will call the lawyers first, and they’ll usually come in there. There’s like six, eight lawyers or more there with cases, so you can expect, certainly in Tulsa County it’s like that, you can expect to be there for a little while.
Get a Free Consultation Today
And it goes without saying, but don’t miss your court date, because you will get defaulted. So you don’t want that. Don’t miss your court date. If you are served with a P.O. and you’re looking at having to go to a hearing, you need a good lawyer, one place you can find a good protective order attorney in Oklahoma is at Dads.Law, where fathers are not disposable.