In Utah, what’s the Difference between Protective Orders, Restraining Orders, Stalking Injunctions, and the like?

If you are scared for your safety because you reasonably believe someone might try to physically or sexually harm you, your children, and/or other people associated with you, you will likely have a lot of questions as to what type of protection order you should try to obtain. Your questions might include: What’s the difference between a Protective Order, a Restraining Order, and a Stalking Injunction? I live in Utah – which one should I apply for? How do I apply for it? Or you might also wonder – I have a Restraining Order against someone, which I obtained in another state: is this order valid and enforceable in Utah?

These are all good and important questions. Across the United States, each State has its own practices and procedures in place to allow people to apply for court-ordered protection from someone they fear poses a danger to them. Sometimes the court-ordered protection will be called a “restraining order,” sometimes a “stalking injunction,” a “protective order,” “protection order,” “civil harassment restraining order,” or something else.  Most States do not charge a fee to apply for such protection (though there are usually fees to request orders against workplace harassment), and in most States it is relatively easy for you to apply on your own at a courthouse or police station.

States will typically recognize and enforce these orders, even if they were originally issued in a different State, and even if they are called by a different name. For example, even though the State of Utah does not issue “restraining orders,” it will respect and enforce other States’ “restraining orders,” “protection orders,” “harassment injunctions,” and so on. If you have relocated to a new State and would like to confirm your new State’s policy on this, it’s a good idea to check out the State’s courts’ website, or to call a court clerk within that State.

In Utah specifically, two main types of court-ordered protections are available:

  • Utah Protective Orders:
    • Available against people who are related to you, lived with you or used to live with you, or share a child (born or unborn) with you.
  • Utah Civil Stalking Injunctions:
    • Available against other people besides those against whom you would qualify for a protective order. (For example: people who aren’t related to you and have never lived with you.)
    • It can provide essentially the same protection as a protective order, except it cannot order the person to not have any guns or other weapons, and cannot put in place most types of divorce-related temporary orders (with the exception of custody/parent-time).
    • But like a protective order, it can order someone to not contact or go near you (and sometimes others).

Some of our neighboring states offer similar protections:

  • The common, basic equivalents of Utah’s “Protective Orders” are called:
    • “Domestic Violence Restraining Orders” in California;
    • “Protection Orders Against Domestic Violence” in Nevada;
    • “Orders of Protection” (a.k.a. “Protective Orders”) in Arizona;
    • “Civil Protection Orders” (a.k.a. “Restraining Orders”) in Colorado;
    • “Domestic Violence Protection Orders” in Wyoming; and
    • “Protection Orders” in Idaho.
  • The common, basic equivalents of Utah’s “Civil Stalking Injunctions” are called:
    • “Civil Harassment Restraining Orders” in California;
    • “Protection Orders Against a Person Engaged in Stalking” in Nevada;
    • “Injunctions Against Harassment” (a.k.a. “Protective Orders”) in Arizona;
    • “Civil Protection Orders” (a.k.a. “Restraining Orders”) in Colorado;
    • “Stalking Protection Orders” in Wyoming; and
    • “Protection Orders” in Idaho.

A lot of people will request protective orders and civil stalking injunctions in Utah on their own, which works fine in most cases. However, it never hurts, and sometimes it is best, to hire an experienced Utah attorney to assist you. And on the other side of the coin, if a temporary protective order or stalking injunction has been entered against you which you feel was unmerited and to which you wish to object, it is quite beneficial to meet with and hire a competent attorney to advocate your position and interests. A protective order or stalking injunction can greatly restrict your freedoms, and so it is important that it only be entered by a court if there are true and legitimate reasons for it to be entered.  Call Daniel W. McKay & Associates, PLLC today to speak with a competent, experienced, Utah Attorney about your specific situation.

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