This is the second part of a two-part series on protective orders in Utah. Part one focused on the details of protective orders, including what they can include and the requirements to get one. This post will focus on what to do if you have been served with a protective order, what happens if you violate the order, and how to get an order dismissed.
Just like you’ve probably seen in a movie or TV show, protective orders are served in person and are effective as soon as they are served. According to the Utah Courts website, when someone requests a protective order, a judge will usually review the request the same day and then a sheriff or constable will serve the order on the person if they are in Utah. If the person is outside of Utah, arrangements need to be made with law enforcement in the person’s area.
First, you should read through the whole order carefully. The most important thing to remember is not to contact the person who issued the order for any reason—even to try to explain yourself. You should also be careful of accepting or answering communication from the person who filed the order. It is possible they may try to trick you accept contact from them and then use that violation against you. This is why we recommend contacting an experienced lawyer after you have received a protective order to talk through your case.
If someone violates a protective order, they can be charged with a class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum punishment of one year in jail and a fine. This applies to the first violation, and subsequent violations could result in more serious penalties.
Additionally, keep in mind that protective orders are valid in all U.S. states and territories, the District of Columbia, and tribal lands. If you travel to another state to violate a protective order, a federal judge may oversee your case, which means you could be sent to prison.
Unlike criminal charges, charges presented to a judge for a protective order do not have to be proven beyond all reasonable doubt. This means it takes less evidence for someone to get a protective order and some unfounded orders could get granted.
There is really one main way to fight back against a protective order—file a motion. A motion can ask to lessen/modify the restrictions or dismiss the order altogether. Similar to how a protective order is served, a request to modify or dismiss a protective order must be served back to the person who issued the order. And again, the court will schedule a hearing to allow both sides to state their case.
There are many reasons the court may rule in favor of changing or dismissing a protective order, which include but are not limited to no longer having a basis for the order to continue, no longer having a reasonable fear, or even that the person who issued the order has been intentionally trying to get the person they have the order to violate it.
Being served with a protective order is serious. Even if the allegations against you are false or exaggerated, having a protective order against you can limit your freedom, including the freedom to use or possess guns or ammunition. It may also be more difficult to find a job. Additionally, there is no process for sealing or expunging the records of a protective order being filed. This is why you should consult with an experienced defense lawyer if you have been served with a protective order.
The expert lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat can help you fight for your rights. Call us today at (801) 532-5297 to discuss your case.
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