Domestic violence has received increased national awareness in recent months. More people have spoken out about the seriousness of this issue, often helping victims understand their options. In the state of Utah, domestic violence often involves current or former spouses, people in dating relationships, or members of the same household.
Many of these cases can result in the issuance of protective orders. In Utah, there are two types of protective orders that a court may issue under the Cohabitant Abuse Act:
- Criminal protective orders are issued when there are criminal domestic violence charges against an alleged offender. A court may issue a protective order while a case is pending or after an alleged offender has been convicted.
- Civil protective orders are sought from courts by alleged victims in cases in which there may not be criminal charges. There are two types of civil protective orders: Temporary protective orders and final protective orders.
Temporary protective orders are frequently called “ex parte” protective orders. Ex parte is Latin for “by or for one party,” and ex parte judicial proceedings are conducted solely for the benefit of one party. A Utah court may issue an ex parte protective order based only on testimony from the alleged victim. These types of protective orders are temporary and will expire if they are not extended at hearing dates.
The issuance of an ex parte protective order will usually lead to a date being set for a final protective order hearing, typically within 20 days. During this hearing, an alleged offender will have the opportunity to present his or her own case. Because emotions usually run high in these types of cases, it is wise to have legal representation for a protective order hearing.
Under Utah Code § 78B-7-106, a protective order may grant the following types of relief to alleged victims:
- Prohibit the alleged offender from threatening to commit or committing domestic violence or abuse against the alleged victim and any designated family or household member
- Prohibit the alleged offender from harassing, telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the alleged victim, directly or indirectly
- Order that the alleged offender to leave and stay away from the residence, school, or place of employment of the alleged victim
- Prohibit the alleged offender from purchasing, using, or possessing a firearm or other weapon specified by the court
- Award possession and use of an automobile and other essential personal effects to the alleged victim
- Grant to the alleged victim temporary custody of any minor children
- Order any further relief that the court considers necessary to provide for the safety and welfare of the alleged victim and any designated family or household member
- Order the alleged offender to pay child support or spousal support
Alleged offenders need to remember that temporary protective orders are still in effect when both parties appear in court for the final hearing, meaning that any confrontations outside the courthouse may lead to criminal charges for violations of protective orders. Again, it is wise to seek the help of an experienced lawyer who can help prepare written statements, present evidence and witnesses, and generally ensure all legal guidelines are properly followed.
Legal counsel will not only help you prepare the strongest possible initial case, but will also understand what your appeal options are if you are preparing for a protective order hearing. If you have an upcoming protective order hearing in Utah, contact a Salt Lake City domestic violence defense attorney today to discuss your case and understand all of your legal options.