Criminal Pretrial Protective Order and Domestic Violence
You may have heard of a civil protective order, which permits an individual who has been the victim of violence or threats of violence by a cohabitant to restrain the aggressor from having contact with him or her. A criminal pretrial protective order is similar to its civil cousin, but it is not brought by one cohabitant against another. Instead a criminal pretrial protective order can only be issued by a judge overseeing a domestic violence case. Whether such an order should be entered is within the discretion of the judge.
Although the judge on its own volition can enter such an order, the victim can request such an order to be entered and the judge will usually grant the request. We have never seen a judge reject a victim’s request to enter a criminal pretrial protective order.
The Limits of a Criminal Pretrial Protective Order
A criminal pretrial protective order has very defined limits as set forth in Utah Code 77-36-2.7. Under that statute the judge overseeing the domestic violence case can do the following:
- Prohibiting the defendant from committing domestic violence against the victim or any member of the victim’s household;
- Prohibiting the defendant from harassing, telephoning, contacting, or communicating with the victim;
- Requiring the defendant to stay away from the victim’s residence…even if it is the defendant’s home;
- Requiring the defendant to stay away from other places the victim frequents such as his place of employment, school, etc.
- Anything else the court deems necessary to protective and provide for the safety of the victim and any household member.
Anytime a court enters a criminal pretrial protective order it must enter its findings and determinations in writing. Thus, the court must put in writing the reasons why such an order is necessary.