Concerned with continued abuse alleged victims may suffer, Utah takes domestic violence matters very seriously. So much so that the state has a law providing that law enforcement officers can make a mandatory arrest when they respond to allegations of an individual harming a family or household member. But what happens after the arrest is made?
A No-Contact Order May Be Issued
Depending on the circumstances, a judge may issue a pretrial no contact order against the alleged offender. This action is typically taken in felony cases involving human trafficking, kidnapping, and sex crimes.
A no contact order prohibits the alleged offender from:
- Contacting, harassing, or communicating with the alleged victim in any way – whether directly or through a third party
- Going to any place the alleged victim may be, including their home, work, or school
The court may order additional conditions as it deems necessary for the specific situation.
A pretrial no contact order is valid until the case concludes. Therefore, a person accused of committing a domestic violence offense may be subject to various restrictions without having been convicted of a crime.
The person named in the no contact order must ensure that they adhere closely to the conditions; otherwise, they may be charged with a third-degree felony for a violation. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison and/or be ordered to pay a fine of up to $5,000. The penalties are in addition to those imposed if the defendant is found guilty of the underlying domestic violence offense.
A Protective Order May Be Issued
The alleged domestic violence offender may be subject to additional restrictions should the alleged victim choose to pursue a protective order.
If the protective order is granted, the alleged offender may be prohibited from:
- Harming or attempting to harm the alleged victim
- Communicating with the alleged victim
- Being at or near any place the alleged victim may go, such as home, school, or place of worship
- Possessing or purchasing a firearm or other weapon
If a judge deems it's necessary to prevent immediate harm to the petitioner (the person seeking the order), they may issue a temporary ex parte order. That means the alleged offender may be subject to the restrictions listed above even before they've had a chance to defend themselves in court.
The temporary order is valid until a hearing is held, which is usually within 20 days of its issuance. During the hearing, the judge will listen to testimony from both the alleged victim and alleged offender to determine whether or not a final order should be issued. If it is granted, it may be effective for up to 3 years.
If the person named in the order violates any of the conditions, they may be charged with a class A misdemeanor for a first offense, which is punishable by a jail term of up to 364 days. Second and subsequent violations are third-degree felonies, which carry a prison term of up to 5 years.
A Trial May Take Place
Aside from potentially being subject to a no contact or protective order, the alleged offender may also have to go through a criminal trial to defend their innocence. The process can be long and arduous, and the prosecutor will be relentless in their pursuit to obtain a conviction. That is why it's imperative to have an attorney help fight the allegations.
A skilled lawyer can collect and preserve evidence, develop a strong defense, and aggressively attack the accusations in and out of court.
If you've been charged with a domestic violence crime in Salt Lake City or the surrounding areas, contact Lokken & Associates, P.C. at (801) 829-9783 today. We'll provide the defense you need to protect your rights and freedom.