Protective orders and stalking injunctions are tools that give individuals peace of mind when confronted by violent or aggressive parties. In order to seek the court protection afforded by a protective order or stalking injunction, it is important to understand how to successfully request these orders and what actions by aggressors justify these orders.
How Protective Orders Work
Protective orders are a common solution for those who have been harmed (or threatened with harm) by a family member or acquaintance. The party seeking the protective order is referred to as the “Petitioner.” The individual against whom the order is sought is known as the “Respondent.” A protective order can include broad restrictions on the Respondent’s behavior. For example, protective orders commonly restrict the Respondent from owning or possessing firearms, contacting or confronting the Petitioner, or removing the parties’ children from the State of Utah.
To apply for a protective order, the Petitioner must file a request for a protective order with the court. If the judge is satisfied that there is sufficient justification, he or she will enter a temporary protective order and schedule the matter for a hearing within 20 days. The Respondent must be served a copy of the temporary protective order prior to the hearing so he or she can have an opportunity to contest the claims and produce evidence at the hearing. At the hearing, if the judge is persuaded by the Petitioner, a final protective order is entered. The civil portion of the protective order lasts 150 days from the date the judge signs the order. The criminal portion, however, last indefinitely. The Respondent may attempt to modify or dismiss the protective order.
A protective order is not the only remedy for those who fear for their safety. A “stalking injunction” can be requested in cases in which a person has been followed, monitored, recorded, or threatened by another. In order to obtain a stalking injunction, the requesting party must show that the offending party’s behavior would cause a reasonable party distress or fear for their safety. Similar to a protective order, the requesting party must file a request for a stalking injunction with the court and be prepared to present evidence (for example, phone records, police records, and witness testimony) at a hearing. If the accused party does not answer the request, then the court will automatically enter a civil stalking injunction against the individual.