What is the legal definition of stalking in Oklahoma?
Stalking is when an adult or minor who is at least 13 years old1 willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly harasses you or follows you, including with a tracking device, in a way that:
- would cause a “reasonable person” or a member of his/her immediate family to feel frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or bothered (molested); and
- actually causes that person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or bothered (molested).2
It is important to understand the legal definitions of the terms in bold:
“Harasses” is defined as a pattern or course of conduct that includes, but is not limited to:
- repeated or continuing unconsented contact that would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress, and that actually causes emotional distress to the victim;
- making obscene, threatening or harassing calls or other electronic communications; or
- committing malicious intimidation or harassment because of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin or disability.3
A “course of conduct” is defined as a series of two or more separate acts that includes any of the following:
- following you or appearing within your sight;
- approaching or confronting you in a public place or on private property;
- appearing at your workplace or home;
- entering onto or remaining on property that you own, lease, or occupy;
- contacting you by telephone, text message, mail, electronic message, e-mail, or other electronic communications;
- placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property that you own, lease or occupy;
- tracking you with a GPS tracker or other device;
- causing your phone or electronic device, or the phone or electronic device of any other person, to ring or generate notifications repeatedly or continuously;
- photographing, videotaping, audiotaping, or, through any other electronic means, monitoring or recording your activities;
- sending you any physical or electronic material;
- contacting you by any means, including any message, comment, or other content posted on any Internet site or web application;
- sending your family/household member, your friend, or your current or former employer or coworker any physical or electronic material or contacting such person by any means, including any message, comment, or other content posted on any Internet site or web application, for the purpose of getting information about you, communicating with you, or spreading information about you;
- delivering an object to your family/household member, your friend, or your current or former employer or coworker, or placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased, or occupied by such a person with the intent that the object be delivered to you;
- contacting your employer, coworkers, or your neighbors; or
- causing someone else to do any of the acts described above.4
Unconsented contact means any contact by the stalker that is made without your consent or after you specifically asked that the contact stop. It includes, but is not limited to, the acts listed above in numbers 1 through 7.5
1 22 O.S. § 60.1(9)
2 21 O.S. § 1173(A)(1), (A)(2)
3 21 O.S. § 1173(F)(1)
4 21 O.S. § 1173(F)(2), (F)(6)
5 21 O.S. § 1173(F)(4)
What types of orders are there? How long do they last?
There are two types of stalking protective orders available.
An emergency ex parte protective order is a short-term protection order that is granted because a judge decides it is necessary to protect you from immediate and present danger of stalking. It is granted after a hearing the same day you file the petition. This can be done without the stalker’s knowledge or presence at the hearing. This protective order will remain in effect until after a full hearing is conducted for the final order of protection, which usually takes place within 14 days.1
A final protection order order can be issued only after a court hearing in which you and the stalker both have the right to be present and the right to present evidence. A final order can either:
- last up to five years (Note: any time that the stalker was incarcerated during those five years do not count in calculating the five-year period); or
- be a continuous order with no specific end date if the judge finds that any of the following are true:
- the stalker has a history of violating the orders of any court or governmental entity;
- the stalker has previously been convicted of any violent felony offense or felony stalking (see (B) of the statute);
- a court order for a final victim protection order has previously been issued against the stalker in any state; or
- the victim provides proof that a continuous protective order is necessary for his/her protection.2
When determining the length of the order, the judge can take into consideration the fact that the stalker has a history of domestic violence or a history of other violent acts.2
An order that lasts up to five years can be extended. For more information, see How do I change or extend the protective order?
You may want to have a lawyer present at your hearing, especially if you believe the stalker will have one. For free and paid legal referrals, go to our OK Finding a Lawyer page.
1 22 O.S. §§ 60.3(A); 60.4(B)(1)
2 22 O.S. § 60.4(G)(1)
What is a stalking protective order? What steps must I take before filing for the order?
A stalking protection order is a civil court order that is designed to protect you from a stalker by ordering him/her to stop following you and threatening you. Even though you use the same petition as a protective order for domestic abuse to file for a stalking order, you do not need to have a “family or household member” relationship with the stalker in order to file for a protection order against him/her – although if you do have that type of relationship, you could still apply for this order.1
However, if you are applying against someone who is not a family/household member or a dating partner, you must first file a complaint against the stalker with law enforcement before filing for the order in district court. You must provide a copy of that complaint at the full hearing. If you do not provide a copy of the complaint that you filed with the law enforcement agency, your petition can be considered “frivolous” and the judge can order you to pay attorney fees and court costs.2
Note: When you report stalking to law enforcement, if they believe that it did occur, law enforcement is required to send a “Stalking Warning Letter” to the accused. This letter serves as a “formal warning” that any future similar conduct could result in an arrest. If you do not want this letter to be given to the stalker, you must specifically ask law enforcement to not serve this letter to the accused.3
1 22 O.S. § 60.2(A)
2 22 O.S. § 60.2(A)(1)
3 21 O.S. § 1173.1
What protections can I get in a stalking protective order?
The following is a list of things that a judge can include in a protection order. Some of these may not apply to you if you do not live with the stalker or have children in common with the stalker.
The law says that a judge can issue “any” emergency ex parte order that the judge believes is necessary to protect you from immediate and present danger of domestic abuse, stalking, or harassment.1 Specifically, in an emergency ex parte order of protection, the judge can order that the abuser:
- have no contact with you - in person, by phone, mail, electronically, or by any other means;
- stop abusing, sexually assaulting, harassing, stalking, or threatening you – and stop “otherwise interfering” with you;
- not use, attempt to use, or threaten to use physical force against you that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury;
- stop doing anything that would make you afraid that the abuser is going to physically injure you, a relative, or a household member;
- stay away from your home and allow the abuser to remove any clothing and other personal items from the home with a police officer there;
- allow you to get your clothing and personal items from the home with a police officer present if you will not be returning to live in the home that you shared with the abuser;
- move out of the home if you live together and take no action to change utilities or telephone service;
- stop seeing your children if s/he has visitation rights or make the visits supervised; however, the order will generally not create an order of child custody, visitation, or child support if one does not already exist;
- stay away from, have no contact with, and be prohibited from taking, giving away, harassing, threatening, or attacking any animal owned or kept by you, the defendant, or a child living in the either of your homes – and the judge can give you sole possession of the animal;
- turn in all firearms and dangerous weapons; and
- do anything else the judge thinks is necessary for your protection.2
A final protective order can do the following:
- include everything listed above in numbers 1 through 11;
- order that your cell phone provider or public utility provider transfer to you the billing responsibility for, and rights to, any wireless telephone numbers for you or your children and any household utility accounts;
- order that the abuser attend domestic abuse counseling or treatment; (Note: Although you cannot be ordered to go to counseling or treatment, if you choose to do so, the judge can order the abuser to pay for some/all of the costs if the judge thinks it is appropriate);
- order the abuser to use a 24-hour, real-time, GPS monitoring device; and
- pay your attorney’s fees and court costs.3
All ex parte and final orders will include the following additional warnings regardless of what the judge includes in each order:
- “The defendant must avoid the residence of the petitioner or any premises temporarily occupied by the petitioner;
- The defendant must avoid contact that harasses or intimidates the petitioner. Contact includes, but is not limited to, contact at the home, work, or school of the petitioner, public places, in person, by phone, in writing, by electronic communication or device, or in any other manner;
- The defendant shall not impersonate or adopt the personification of the petitioner by pretending to be the petitioner, ordering items, posting information or making inquiries, or publishing photographs of the petitioner, by use of social media, or by use of computer, telephone, texting, emailing, or by use of any electronic means;
- The defendant must refrain from removing, hiding, damaging, harming, mistreating, or disposing of a household pet;
- The defendant must allow the petitioner or a family member or household member of the petitioner acting on his or her behalf to retrieve a household pet;
- The defendant must avoid contacting the petitioner or causing any person other than an attorney for the petitioner or law enforcement officer to contact the petitioner unless the petitioner consents in writing.”4
1 22 O.S. § 60.3(A)
2 See Emergency Order of Protection on the Oklahoma Courts website
3 22 O.S. §§ 60.4, 60.17, 60.2(C)(1),(E); see also Final Order of Protection on the Oklahoma Courts website
4 22 O.S. § 60.11(7)-(12)
If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?
When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.
There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:
- The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
- One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
- If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.
However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.
You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.
Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.