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Utah Protective Orders

A protective order is a court order entered when a petitioner requests legal protection from the respondent. The order typically prohibits contact or communication with the petitioner by the respondent. Violation of a protective order can result in misdemeanor or felony charges. If you are facing prosecution for a protective order violation, the assistance of an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney can be vital to a successful outcome in your case. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

Can the petitioner be charged for violating a protective order in Utah?

A protective order in most cases will create a kind of "one-way street."  The order prohibits certain conduct by the respondent. But the order will almost never have any restrictions on conduct by the petitioner. Violation of the order by the respondent can result in significant criminal charges. But conduct by the petitioner typically has no repercussions.

Consider the following hypothetical example:

A protective order is entered against Aaron, with Beth as the petitioner. The order prohibits Aaron from engaging in communication of any kind with Beth. After some time has passed, Beth wants to reconcile with Aaron, and decides to call him. He picks up the phone and realizes that Beth is on the other end. Although Aaron remembers the protective order, he decides that since Beth initiated the phone call and since it has been a long time since the order was entered, Aaron decides to talk with her. The conversation goes well for a while, but then Aaron says something that offends Beth. She decides to call the police and report Aaron for violating the protective order.

In this hypothetical, Aaron will probably face criminal prosecution for violating the protective order. Beth will likely be considered the "victim" even though she initiated the contact.

Does a petitioner waive the protective order by initiating communication?

From a common sense perspective, it seems fair that the petitioner (the protected party) should be able to waive the protections provided by a protective order. In a trespass case, the property owner can grant permission for a person to enter the property even though it has been posted "no trespassing." This makes sense. But in the context of a protective order, the order comes from a court - and only the court has authority to modify or revoke the protective order.

So in the hypothetical above, even though the petitioner initiated the communication, the protective order still remains in full force. If the respondent had not answered the phone call or if the respondent had hung up immediately upon realizing that the petitioner was on the other end of the call, no criminal violation would have been committed. But if the respondent knowingly communicated with the petitioner after having been properly served with the protective order, criminal charges could be filed.

Can a petitioner be criminally charged for initiating a protective order violation?

Most Utah protective orders create a kind of "one-way street" that will result in criminal charges only against the respondent if a violation occurs. The protective order places restrictions on the respondent's conduct. But it will typically place no restrictions on the petitioner. So even though the petitioner initiated the communication, criminal charges are likely only against the respondent.

In theory, an argument can be made that the petitioner acted as an accomplice by encouraging or soliciting the respondent to commit a violation of the protective order. While there is strong legal theory supporting this argument, it is very, very rare for a prosecutor to charge a petitioner with violating a protective order under an accomplice liability theory.

Does a Utah protective order automatically expire after some time?

Utah protective orders are considered "permanent" - meaning that they do not automatically expire, no matter how much time has passed. But after the protective order has been effect for a period of two years, the respondent can request that the court vacate or dismiss the protective order if certain conditions are met. Personal service of the motion to dismiss the protective order must be made on the petitioner.

Are there any consequences for a petitioner who tries to get the respondent to violate the protective order?
If the court finds that the petitioner has repeatedly acted in contravention of the protective order provisions and attempted to induce the respondent to violate the protective order, Utah Code 78B-7-115 allows the court may amend or dismiss the protective order after the protective order has been in effect for one year. The court must find that the basis for the issuance of the protective order no longer exists, that the petitioner's conduct demonstrates that the petitioner no longer has a reasonable fear of the respondent, and that the respondent has not been convicted of violating the protective order or any other crime of violence, and that there are no cases pending against the respondent relating to a crime of violence.

Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City

Utah Criminal Defense LawyerChoosing the right Utah criminal defense attorney can be the most important decision you make for your case. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has the experience required to help you get the results you need. Contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential consultation.

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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
340 East 400 South, Suite 25, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

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In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

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