What Happens if the Victim Violates a No-Contact Order in Utah?
No-contact orders, also called protective or restraining orders depending on the situation, are put in place to keep victims of crimes safe from defendants. In most cases, the alleged victim and the defendant are entangled in a domestic violence case. Courts are very keen to protect victims from future harm and impose no-contact orders to legally require defendants to stay away. When the defendant violates the order by contacting the victim, they may be criminally punished. However, things are a bit different if the victim is the one violating the no-contact order.
A no-contact order is usually put in place at the request of the victim. If the victim violates the order, there are no criminal penalties as the victim is not the one legally bound by the order. However, no-contact and other protective orders often come with both civil and criminal components. While there might not be any criminal consequences for victims who violate no-contact orders, there can be civil ones. In such cases, the defendant could file a motion to enforce with the court and have the civil aspects of the no-contact order upheld against the victim.
If you are involved in a case that has instituted a no-contact order, you must make sure that you understand all the terms and requirements of the order. In a complicated situation, a victim or defendant might not fully understand the order’s requirements and inadvertently violate it. Our Utah criminal defense attorneys can help. Set up a free legal consultation by calling Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.
When a Victim Violates a No-Contact Order in Utah
No-contact orders impose restrictions on contact between a victim of abuse and their alleged abuser. No-contact orders are often necessary because the victim and defendant share a romantic relationship, and the victim believes they are in danger of future harm. While no-contact orders restrict contact between these two parties, the defendant’s behavior is usually restricted, not the victim’s.
Most orders require that the defendant stay away from the victim and cease all contact, including phone calls, text messages, and social media messages. However, the order likely does not say the same for the victim, meaning the victim is not legally required to stay away from the defendant.
No-contact orders have both civil and criminal components. The criminal components are the requirements for the defendant to physically stay away from the victim and refrain from contacting them. Though not present in every case, civil components can include things like child custody arrangements or financial support payments between the parties. The criminal components might not bind a victim, but civil components could.
If you are bound by a no-contact order, or you believe you might benefit from a no-contact order, our qualified attorneys are here to help. Contact our Park City criminal defense lawyers for assistance with your case.
How No-Contact Orders Work in Utah
As mentioned previously, no-contact orders have criminal and civil elements. The criminal elements are what keeps the two parties separated. The civil components can include the details of how their relationship works during the separation, like child custody or living arrangements.
When a no-contact order is imposed, a defendant is required by law to stay away from the victim. This means no contact in person nor any contact over electronic means, like phone, email, or social media. Even sending a third party to deliver a message to the victim may violate the order. In Utah, when a defendant violates a contact order, they may be criminally charged and punished. According to Utah law, a defendant’s first violation can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. Any subsequent violations can be charged as third-degree felonies.
Civil aspects of a no-contact order do not restrict the contact between the victim and the defendant. Instead, the civil components set rules for how the parties interact when they absolutely have to. For example, if the victim and defendant share children, a no-contact order might contain provisions for handling child custody arrangements. If the parties live together, there might be provisions for who must move out and financial support. In cases where there are no children and the parties do not live together, there may not be any need for civil provisions in a no-contact order.
Consequences of a Victim Violating a Utah No-Contact Order
Most of the consequences of violating a no-contact order will fall upon the defendant. It is the defendant’s behavior, not the victim’s, that made the order necessary in the first place. However, there have been cases where a victim requests that a no-contact order be imposed and then violates the order by contacting or visiting the defendant. In such cases, there are usually no criminal penalties for the victim. However, there may be civil consequences.
First, if a victim violates a no-contact order, the defendant may have grounds to lift the order. When no-contact or restraining orders become unnecessary or overly burdensome, a defendant may argue to have them lifted. When a court learns that a victim has been visiting the defendant, the court might be inclined to believe the victim is no longer in fear of danger or violence from the defendant, and they can lift the order.
If the victim violates certain civil portions of a no-contact order, a defendant can file a motion to enforce the order against the victim to make them comply. For example, child custody arrangements are common in no-contact orders between spouses. While the defendant may be ordered to stay away from the victim, they might still be allowed to have visitation with their kids. If the victim refuses to allow the visitation, even though it is required in the order, they will be in violation of the order. The defendant could have the court enforce the order and make the victim allow the visitation.
Contact our Orem criminal defense attorneys for assistance with your case.
Call Our Utah No-Contact Order Attorneys for Help
While victims may not suffer any criminal penalties for violating a no-contact order, their behavior will not be entirely free from consequences. Our Riverton criminal defense lawyers can help you handle the fallout from a no-contact order violation. Set up a free legal consultation at Overson Law, PLLC by calling (801) 758-2287.