Utahns in abusive relationships can seek protection in the court system. The court can assist these people by issuing "stay away" orders. Under Utah law the court can issue a restraining order or a protective order amongst others. These two orders are similar in what they do, but they address different situations. Here, we will look at the differences between restraining orders and protective orders.
Restraining Orders in Utah
Restraining orders are more general in nature. Courts will issue restraining orders to prevent a wide variety of acts. These acts do not have to be violent. For example, a court can impose a restraining order to stop one party from calling/texting a person. In this sense restraining orders are a lot more versatile.
In most cases the court issues restraining orders in pending civil cases. The court uses the order to prevent a party from doing something related to the case. These orders can be permanent or temporary. They are also subject to modifications by either party.
When a party violates a restraining order he or she must appear before the court. The court can then choose to issue sanctions to hold the party accountable.
About the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
Courts issue TROs to address situations where there may be immediate harm. As such, they are only issued in emergency situations. A petitioner can file for a TRO in an "ex-parte" proceeding where the opposing party is not present. The purpose of these orders is to stop a certain activity until the court can have a full hearing on the matter. For instance, TROs can be issued to change visitation rights during divorce proceedings. Once a hearing is held the court can choose to convert a TRO into a permanent restraining order.
Distinguishing Protective Orders
Protective orders are meant to address domestic violence situations. The petitioner must prove that he or she is the subject of physical violence or threats of violence. Also, the respondent (the person accused of abuse) must qualify as a cohabitant as defined in Title 78B, Chapter 7, Part 1, Section 102 of the Utah Code. A major difference between protective and restraining orders is that the former does not need to be attached to an open case. This means you can request a protective order at any time.
Another difference related to protective orders is that they can contain criminal provisions. This is in contrast to restraining orders which are purely civil. The criminal provisions allow the petitioner to contact the police when the respondent violates the order. Once notified of a violation the police can arrest the respondent or refer the case to the District Attorney. Thus, violations of protective orders can result in jail time and/or fines.
The firm of Spencer and Jensen, LLC has an experienced lawyer ready to assist you with questions about restraining or protective orders. Contact the Sandy law office for help in petitioning for an order, or to challenge one.