Can You Go to Jail for Violating a Protective Order in Utah?

Sometimes, when interpersonal conflict becomes extreme between two people, one of them may feel the need to file for a restraining or protective order. Once a protective order has been filed against you, you are not permitted to have any contact with the individual in question. If you deliberately violate such an order, you can face serious potential consequences, including the possibility of jail time. At Overson & Bugden, our battle-tested Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys have years of experience successfully defending clients against protective orders at the initial hearing as well as defending them against charges of violating a protective order once one has been put in place. Below, we explain what some of the consequences of violating a protective order are, including whether you can go to jail, and how our skilled attorneys can help work to bring your matter to the most positive possible resolution.

When Can a Protective Order Be Imposed Against Someone in Utah?

The difference between a protective order and a restraining order is that a restraining order is attached to some sort of existing criminal complaint. For example, a restraining order might be put in place after a spouse is arrested for assaulting the other spouse. A protective order, on the other hand, can be requested through the court at any time, independent of a particular criminal case, when an individual covered under the statute commits or threatens to commit an act of domestic violence against another.

In order for a protective order to be granted by the courts, there must first be a qualifying relationship between the two individuals. Generally, individuals in Utah can file for a protective order against cohabitants, the definition of which includes folks who are or were married, live or used to live together, are or were in a consensual sexual relationship, are related as a parent, step-parent, child, step-child, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew, or have or had children together, or are expecting a child. You can also be granted a protective order against someone you are in a dating relationship with or were in a dating relationship with. There is also a civil stalking protective order, which can be issued when an individual’s activity meets the state’s definition of the crime of stalking.

When an individual request and is granted a protective order against you, it will initially be a temporary protective order and a hearing will be scheduled within 20 days for you to challenge it and prevent it from becoming a permanent protective order. As such, you should contact a skilled Utah protective order defense attorney like those at Overson & Bugden as soon as you learn that the order has been granted. We will work to prepare our case, tell your side of the story, and make the best arguments that a protective order is not warranted under the circumstances.

What Penalties Can I Face For Violating a Utah Protective Order?

If a temporary or permanent protective order is granted against you, the judge will list out a series of requirements, which will usually include, among other things, ceasing all contact with the person who applied for the order against you. If you violate this or any other requirement under the protective order, you can face very serious consequences, including being charged with another, entirely separate crime that carries additional penalties including potential jail time. In fact, if a violation of the order is reported to the authorities, according to Utah Code § 77-36-2 they are permitted to place you under arrest immediately without a court or judge-issued warrant. Once located and arrested, you will be charged with intentionally violating your protective order, which is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.

How Can an Attorney Help Defend Me Against a Charge of Violating a Protective Order in Utah?

After you have been arrested, you will be taken to the local police station for the booking process, and held there or at the local detention center until your initial appearance and bail hearing can be held, usually within 72 hours of booking at most. At your initial appearance, the judge will read the charges against you and ask you to enter an initial plea of guilty or not guilty, which is called your arraignment. An experienced Utah attorney for a criminal arraignment is likely to advise you to enter an initial not guilty plea while we collect all the evidence and try to get the charges dropped. At the bail hearing, the judge will decide if you can be released and, if so, on how much bail. Our battle-tested Utah bail hearing attorneys at Overson & Bugden know the best arguments to persuade the judge to release you on little to no bail.

After we have gotten you out of jail, we will turn our attention to trying to get the charges dismissed. In many cases, you may have unintentionally violated the order, like passing the other person in a crowded mall without knowing. In such as case, we can argue that you do not meet the element of intent needed for a conviction. In some cases where the prosecutor is not willing to outright dismiss the charge, we may be able to convince them to allow you into a pre-trial diversion program, where the charge is dismissed if you complete the program successfully. In other cases, the prosecutor may agree to downgrade the charge or recommend a lenient sentence to the judge, such as no jail time, in exchange for you entering a guilty plea. Of course, if you do not wish to take a deal, we are always ready and able to defend you at trial.

If You Have Been Arrested for Violating a Protective Order, Call our Skilled Defense Attorneys Today

Violating a protective order in Utah can lead to a separate charge with its own separate penalties, including potential jail time. To avoid the most serious consequences, the best thing you can do is reach out to an experienced Utah protective order defense attorney as soon as possible after you have been arrested for a violation. We will work to mitigate the damages, tell your side of the story, and bring the matter to the most positive possible resolution. Call our firm at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation today.