In Utah, a person commits domestic violence (Utah Code: 77-36-1) by committing (or attempting to commit) any crime involving violence, physical harm, or the threat of violence or physical harm against a cohabitant. (Cohabitants are defined as: spouses, former spouses, people in relationships that resemble marriage, people who live together or have lived together, people who are related by blood or marriage, and people who have children together. Cohabitants must be over the age of 16 or emancipated minors. Siblings under the age of 18 and parents and their children are not cohabitants of one another.)
Any violent crime, such as harassment, stalking, violating a restraining order, or assault, is domestic violence if committed by one cohabitant against another.
In Utah, if a police officer has probable cause to believe that domestic violence has occurred, the officer must make an arrest without a warrant or issue a citation. If the officer has probable cause to believe the victim will continue to be in danger or that the defendant has recently caused serious injury or used a dangerous weapon, the officer must make an arrest and take the defendant into custody.
People who are arrested for domestic violence may not personally contact the victim before being released and may not be released from jail before the next court day unless they are ordered as a condition of their release not to personally contact the victim, harass the victim, or go to the victim’s residence.
Contacting the victim before being released or in violation of a court’s order is a crime.
* For purposes of understanding, not intended as legal advice.
Was a Protective Order connected to your case?
A protective order (also called a restraining order) is a court order requiring one person (the respondent or defendant) to not contact and stay away from another person (the petitioner or victim).
Whenever a defendant is charged with domestic violence, the court may issue a pre-trial protective order which prohibits the defendant from committing or threatening acts of domestic violence, contacting or communicating with the victim, excluding the respondent from petitioner’s residence, school, or workplace, or any other place, and granting any other relief necessary for the safety and welfare of petitioner or another person.
The order remains in effect until the defendant’s trial and it is a crime to violate a pre-trial protective order. Contacting a victim before being released on a domestic violence arrest is a class B misdemeanor.
If the defendant was originally arrested for a felony, violating a judge’s order to not contact a victim or a pre-trial protective order is a third degree felony. If the defendant was originally arrested for a misdemeanor, violating a judge’s order or a pre-trial protective order is a class A misdemeanor. Violating the criminal provisions of a protective order is also class A misdemeanor. Unlike a criminal charge for domestic violence, the charges do not have to be proven beyond all reasonable doubt at the hearing for a protective order.
The most important thing to remember is that you must follow the letter and spirit of the order and not have any contact with the petitioner for any reason. The petitioner might try and trick you into violating the protective order. Even if the petitioner is attempting to contact you, you should ignore those attempts and make sure that you do not violate any provision in the order.
The court may amend or dismiss a protective order after one year if it finds that the basis for the issuance of the protective order no longer exists and the petitioner has repeatedly acted in contravention of the protective order provisions to intentionally or knowingly induce the respondent to violate the protective order, demonstrating to the court that the petitioner no longer has a reasonable fear of the respondent.