The Truth About Restraining Orders

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If you’re like me then it’s likely that the only things you know about restraining orders come from television and books. The idea seems simple, you go to a judge and obtain an order to keep a dangerous person away from you. But when would it be appropriate to seek a restraining order, and what kind of situation do I have to be in to get one?

The first question that I’m inclined to ask is to what extent of danger do I have to be in to obtain a restraining order? I mean if I just go to a police station and request a restraining order, out of the blue, will they take me seriously or will I get laughed at?

Well, being a subject of personal curiosity, and of general interest to this blog, I decided to do a little research and put together some very basic info about what restraining orders are and how they work in real life— a kind of restraining orders 101.

“Restraining Order” is a term used colloquially to describe protective orders that can be filed under the civil and/or criminal code. A protective order is granted by a judge to a petitioner who requests that the order be enacted against the respondent, or the person who abuses or threatens the petitioner.

When someone initially petitions the court for a protective order, the burden of proof is relatively low, so the judge will usually grant a temporary, or ex parte, protective order stipulating that the respondent must stay a certain distance away from the petitioner and his/her place of work, school, etc, until a hearing can be held. The protective order will also apply to the petitioner’s children if the case warrants.

The above described is the most common procedure for obtaining a protective order in a family law situation, which usually falls under Utah civil code. A court may also grant protective orders in criminal cases, but under criminal law the “petitioner” is the prosecutor, not the plaintiff.

The important thing for you to remember is that if someone has harmed you, then they have committed a crime. According to utcourts.gov “harm” means any kind of physical attack, but it also applies to stalking, harassment, kidnapping, intimidation, or the attempt of any of the above.

We at Larsen Law Firm are happy to serve the Utah Valley and the greater Provo area in the areas of personal injury and family law, we hope that this small article will be helpful, but it is no substitute, particularly if you or a loved one has been threatened with harm, for the solid legal counsel that we can provide in person. Please feel free to schedule a consultation today with one of our Provo Attorneys.

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