Violating a protective order is a Class A misdemeanor in Utah subject to fines of up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail. However, the government must show that the violation was deliberate or intentional. With a skilled attorney at your side, you can defend your rights and establish that you didn’t intend to violate the protective order.
Overson Law PLLC is a full-service criminal defense practice dedicated to helping Salt Lake City residents. If you or someone you know was accused of violating a protective order in Salt Lake City, Utah, you need an attorney prepared to handle all repercussions proactively and effectively. Call Overson Law today at (801) 823-6678 to schedule a free and prompt consultation.
Types of Protective Orders in Utah
There are four types of protective orders in Utah:
- Cohabitant abuse order (Co-habitant Abuse Act)
- Child protective order
- Dating Violence Protection Act
- Civil stalking injunction (when there is no relationship between petitioners)
Someone who files a petition for a protective order must show concerns about a threat to their safety either due to harassment or actual threats. A request is filed with a petition, and a temporary protective order is granted until there is a hearing scheduled — usually within a few weeks.
At the hearing, the judge can upgrade the order to a final protective order that can be in force for years until dismissed by the court. Some orders can be dismissed after two years if the petitioner is no longer in fear or after a year if the petitioner violated the order and tried to get you to violate it as well. If you need help lifting a protective order or you have been accused of violating a protective order, call our Salt Lake City violation of protective order attorney.
How Long Protective Orders Last in Utah
Protective orders are usually temporary, but their duration may last for a long time. When a protective order is first granted, it will only be enforced until the hearing for that protective order. If at the hearing the judge finalizes the protective order, it usually becomes enforceable for three years.
It is possible that you could have a protective order lifted before this three-year time limit expires. To do so, you will need to show the court that the protective order is no longer necessary. For example, if the parties have reconciled, they may ask the court to lift the protective order.
On the other hand, the party that requested the order can ask the court to extend the order’s time limit if they are still in fear for their safety. This request must be made before the date of the order’s expiration. For help with your protective order, contact our Salt Lake City violation of protective order lawyer.
Civil and Criminal Parts to Protective Orders in Utah
All protective orders will have criminal and civil components. The criminal aspects of a protective order include staying away from the other person, having no contact with the other person, and restrictions on weapons. Civil elements of a protective order can consist of custody arrangements of any children, monetary support of the protected spouse, or retrieving any personal property from a shared home.
A violation of the criminal components of the order may result in criminal charges and penalties. If you are reported to be near the other person, you may be arrested. A violation of any civil components has somewhat different results. A civil violation means the non-violating party can ask the court to enforce the order against you. For example, if you fail to pay spousal support pursuant to the protective order, you will not be arrested, but the court might force you to pay. If you have been charged with violating a protective order, call our Salt Lake City violation of protective order lawyer for help with your case.
When Protective Orders Are Issued in Utah
Protective orders are typically issued in cases of domestic violence or abuse. They are intended to protect victims of abuse from their abusers as the trial plays out in court. However, a protective order can also be issued to protect people from total strangers, such as with a civil stalking injunction as mentioned above. A protective order can feel like a punishment. It prevents a person from going anywhere near their spouse, partner, or children. Protective orders are often implemented before a verdict is reached and before a defendant is sentenced. If the alleged victim claims to fear for their life or safety, a protective order may be in order.
A protective order may be given effect before there is even a hearing on the matter. This is done for the benefit of the alleged victim. It could be weeks before a judge is able to hold a hearing on whether a protective order should be issued. During that time, the defendant could attempt to harm the victim.
Protective orders can also be made a part of the final sentence. If a defendant is found guilty, the judge could hand down a sentence that includes a protective order and prevents the defendant from being near the victim. Protective orders are generally temporary but may last for months or years at a time.
Protective Order Hearings in Utah
The person who requests that a protective order be granted is known as the petitioner. The person whom the protective order is issued against is known as the respondent. A protective order is initiated when the petitioner files the appropriate paperwork with the court. Exactly what needs to be filed will vary depending on the type of protective order being sought. Once the request is filed, the court will review it and either grant or deny the request.
If granted, the judge signs something called an “ex parte” protective order. This is a temporary protective order that will only last until the scheduled hearing for the order, usually within 20 days. At the hearing, both the petitioner and the respondent will have an opportunity to argue whether a more extended protective order should be granted. This order will last up to three years. If the respondent does not appear at this hearing, the judge can grant the order without hearing any argument from the respondent. If the petitioner does not appear at the hearing, the judge will dismiss the protective order.
Penalties for Violating a Protective Order in Salt Lake City
In addition to facing a charge for a Class A misdemeanor, there are many serious repercussions for violating a protective order. Repeated violations — within five years — are considered a third-degree felony, which can lead to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000. Each violation is considered a separate offense, which means you can face multiple charges for each accusation.
Moreover, if you are under probation or on parole, an accusation of violating a protective order can have devastating consequences. You can lose your freedom if a condition of your probation or parole is to avoid legal troubles. Also, if you’re facing a third-degree felony accusation due to violating a protective order and your potential jail sentence can exceed a year in jail, you can also face disqualification for certain jobs and be prohibited from carrying a gun.
If you are facing an accusation of violating a protective order, you can face an immediate arrest, and no warrant is necessary as provided under Utah Code Section 77-36-24 if there is probable cause to believe the protective order was violated. Contact our Salt Lake City violation of protective order lawyer for help.
Challenging the Terms of a Protective Order in Utah
The terms of a protective order can be extremely harsh, especially in the cases of people who live together. Protective orders can prevent you from seeing your spouse or children and any friends or family of your spouse or children. It can also prevent you from going to certain places where your spouse or partner is likely to be, such as their place of work. Regardless of the conditions, don’t ignore the order and violate it. An attorney can file a court motion asking for a modification or to dismiss the protective order. Utah courts have broad discretion in the event of allegations that a protective order was violated. The following factors must be taken into consideration:
- If you complied with treatment recommendations included with the protective order
- If the order was in force at the time it was violated
- If there were other claims of abuse, harassment, or violence by either party when the order was in force
- If either party sought counseling
- If there are minors involved and what the impact on them may be
- The severity of past abuse
The factors above are intended to assist the judge in determining whether there is a reasonable fear of harm. Your attorney can provide a more thorough explanation of how these factors can impact your case. If you wish to challenge the terms of a protective order, call our Salt Lake City violation of protective order lawyer for assistance.
Challenging a Court’s Decision on a Protective Order in Utah
After a protective order is granted, you may challenge the court’s decision. However, the process for challenging the decision depends on whether a judge or a commissioner made the decision. If a commissioner made the decision on your protective order, you must file your objection within 10 days of the date the commissioner recommended the order. A judge will then hold a hearing regarding your objection.
If a judge made the final decision on your protective order, your only option is to file a formal appeal with the Utah Court of Appeals. A different judge in a higher court will make the decision regarding your objection to the protective order.
If your objections to the protective order are unsuccessful, you may be able to challenge specific provisions of the order without overturning the entire order. To do this, you must demonstrate that particular conditions are overly burdensome or unnecessary. If you need help challenging a protective order that has been issued against you, contact our Salt Lake City violation of protective order lawyer for assistance.
Call Our Salt Lake City Lawyers for Violation of a Protective Order
In an evidentiary hearing, the parties have to present testimony and evidence about the reasons the petitioner alleges fear. You need an attorney who is prepared to share your side of the story effectively. What is most important is that the fear must be “reasonable.” If you don’t ask for a hearing, the court is required to accept as “true” the information provided by the other side. Unless the order is modified or dismissed, you cannot contact the recipient of the order.
Sometimes you can get a modified protective order that allows limited communications. However, the communications cannot stretch beyond a given subject, such as your children or separation agreement. If you send an e-mail or text asking that he or she “drops” the protective order, you can face charges for violating the order.
If you were accused of violating a protective order or you are concerned a protective order is making it impossible for you to return to your home or work, you should talk to an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney with the skills and experience to defend you. To learn more about how we can help you, contact Overson Law, PLLC, at (801) 823-6678 today.