Understanding Pretrial Criminal Protection Orders in Utah

A pretrial criminal protection order is a written order during a domestic violence case that specifies and limits the contact a person who has been charged with a domestic violence offense may have with you or other specified individuals. If you have received a pretrial criminal protection order, you may have a lot of questions about why this has happened and what you can do as you move forward with the case.

Read further for more information from a Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer about pretrial criminal protection orders, who they protect, the consequences of violating them, and what to do if you are involved in one.

Types of Pretrial Criminal Protection Orders

The pretrial criminal protection order is one of three types of orders of protection that may be issued by a court in a domestic violence case, all of which are intended to protect the victim between the time of the arrest of the perpetrator and the court’s jurisdiction. A pretrial or sentencing protection order supersedes a jail release agreement or jail release court order.

One other type is a jail release court order. A person who has been granted a jail release court order agrees in writing that they will not threaten or harass, knowingly enter the premises or the residence of, or have any contact with the victim. This jail release court order is entered into the Statewide Domestic Violence Network and is effective only until midnight on the day the person appears in court in person or by video arraignment.

The other type is a sentencing protection order. This may include the following conditions: prohibiting the perpetrator from contacting the victim; requiring the perpetrator to stay away from the victim’s home, place of employment, school, or home of a family member; prohibit the perpetrator from possessing or consuming alcohol or other controlled substances; prohibit the perpetrator from purchasing or using firearms or other weapons; direct the perpetrator to participate in an intervention program; direct the perpetrator to make restitution payments to the victim; or impose any other condition that will protect the victim.

Why and How Is a Pretrial Criminal Protection Order Issued?

A pretrial criminal protection order is intended to protect a victim of domestic violence in a court case, since the likelihood of repeated violence is present. It is only valid while the case is open. It may be issued during any court hearing where the defendant is present and can only be issued by the judge overseeing the case. It can be implemented either by the judge’s own volition or the victim’s request, which the judge is almost certainly guaranteed to grant.

It should be noted that the court is prohibited from charging a filing fee or charging fees for copies of court documents.

Regulations and Restrictions Under a Pretrial Criminal Protection Order

A pretrial criminal protection order gives the court an opportunity to provide protections for the victim that go beyond what is in provided a jail release agreement or jail release court order and serves various functions.

The primary function of the pretrial criminal protection order is to prohibit the defendant from committing violence against the victim or victim’s family. Furthermore, it prohibits the defendant from contacting the victim in any way, either directly (by telephone, email, etc.) or indirectly (sending messages to others to relay to the victim). The defendant is also prohibited from going near the victim’s residence, as well as their place of employment, school, etc. The court may also include any other relief or protection it deems necessary in order to protect the safety of the victim or their family.

A pretrial protection order does not necessarily have a provision for the court to restrict the perpetrator from owning weapons. The court can, however, issue an order against owning weapons as a condition necessary to protect the victim and their family. The court can order the perpetrator to surrender weapons to law enforcement, or the court can order law enforcement officers to seize any weapons the perpetrator may possess.

The court is required to put their reasons for issuing the order into writing. If the victim can be located, they will be provided with a certified copy of the pretrial protection order. The court will also send the protection order to an organization called “The Domestic Violence Network”, which covers the entire state of Utah. If the court or prosecutor dismiss the original criminal charge, the specific reasons will be recorded in the case file and will also be recorded in the specific file in Utah’s Domestic Violence Network system.

It is not guaranteed that the petition for a protection order can will ever be removed from a defendant’s record, even if the allegations are eventually determined to be unfounded.

It should be noted that a court during a domestic violence case does not have authority in a criminal domestic violence case to address child custody, child support, and parent-time issues. However, the court may inform the perpetrator and victim of the need to have these issues addressed through civil processes.

The Consequences of Violating a Pretrial Criminal Protection Order in Utah

Consequences for violating a pretrial criminal protection order are varied. Violation could result in a third-degree felony if the original arrest or subsequent charge filed was a felony. Concurrently, the defendant could receive a class A misdemeanor for violation if the original arrest or subsequent charge filed was a misdemeanor.

Utah Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Offering Free Consultations

If you are currently involved in a domestic violence court case or have been served a court trial protection order, our Provo criminal defense attorneys can help. Contact us today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation with an aggressive trial-ready lawyer.