Who can get a victim protection order, often known as a VPO, is outlined in 22 OS § 60.2. This includes a victim of domestic abuse, a victim of stalking, a victim of harassment, a victim of rape, any adult or emancipated minor, household member on behalf of any other family member or household member who is a minor or incompetent or any minor aged 16 or 17 years. There has to be a relationship between the two individuals or certain acts need to have occurred. The person filing the VPO is called the Petitioner, the person against whom the VPO is filed is the Defendant.
The actions of the defendant must include either 1) causing or attempting to cause physical harm, 2) threatening imminent physical harm, 3) harassment, or 4) stalking. For all but stalking, the two individuals must have a certain relationship. The following qualifies as a “relationship” for these purposes: married, parent & child, persons related by marriage, persons living in the same household, biological parents of the same child, victim of rape, divorced, persons related by blood, present spouse of an ex-spouse, formerly living in same household, or persons in a previous dating relationship. For stalking, the petitioner must have filed the complaint against the defendant with the proper law enforcement agency before filing a petition.
22 OS § 60.1 defines stalking as the willful, malicious, and repeated following or harassment of a person by an adult, emancipated minor, or minor 13 years or older, in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to feel frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested and actually causes the person being followed or harassed to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested. Stalking also means a course of conduct composed of a series of two or more separate acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose or unconsented contact with a person that is initiated or continued without the consent of the individual or in disregard of the expressed desire of the individual that the contact be avoided or discontinued. Unconsented contact or course of conduct includes, but is not limited to:
- following or appearing within the sight of that individual,
- approaching or confronting that individual in a public place or on private property,
- appearing at the workplace or residence of that individual,
- entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or occupied by that individual,
- contacting that individual by telephone,
- sending mail or electronic communications to that individual, or
- placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased or occupied by that individual.
Harassment means a knowing and willful course or pattern of conduct by a family or household member or an individual who is or has been involved in a dating relationship with the person, directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys the person, and which serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and must actually cause substantial distress to the person. Harassment includes, but is not limited to, harassing or obscene telephone calls and fear of death or bodily injury.
Jurisdiction must exist, as well. At least one of the following jurisdictional requirements must be met: 1) the petitioner must be a resident of the county where the petition is filed, 2) the defendant is a resident of the county where the petition is filed, or 3) the domestic abuse must have occurred in the county where the petition is filed.
For more information on Victim Protection Orders, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 633-3420 today.
Current as of May 10, 2017.