What is the legal definition of sexual violence in Utah?
Utah considers it sexual violence for the purpose of getting a protective order when someone who is not a cohabitant or dating partner commits or tries to commit any of the following to you:
- object rape;
- forcible sodomy;
- forcible sexual abuse;
- aggravated sexual assault;
- sexual offense against the victim without consent;
- sexual exploitation of a vulnerable adult;
- distribution of an intimate image;
- sexual extortion;
- human trafficking for forced sexual exploitation; or
- aggravated human trafficking for forced sexual exploitation.1
1 UT ST § 78B-7-502(5)
What types of sexual violence protective orders are there? How long do they last?
There are two types of sexual violence protective orders in Utah: temporary orders and final orders issued after a hearing.
A temporary sexual violence protective order is an order that can be granted on the day you first apply for an order in court. Whether you get this order will be based on the information you include in your petition as well as your testimony or any evidence you present when you are in front of the judge who is reviewing your petition. You can get the order “ex parte,” which means without the abuser being present in court or notified of your application for a temporary order.1 The temporary order will last up to 20 days or until your court hearing for an extended order takes place. This time can only be extended if:
- a party is not able to attend the hearing because of a good reason (good cause) and the party sends an affidavit to the court explaining this good cause;
- the respondent has not been served; or
- there is some other important and convincing reason (exigent circumstances).2
A final order will last for up to one year.3 The judge can grant a final order after the abuser has been given notice of the court hearing and a hearing takes place in which you and the abuser each have an opportunity to present evidence, witnesses, and testimony to prove your case.4 You may want to have a lawyer represent you at this hearing, especially if you think the abuser will have one. For free and paid legal services, go to our UT Finding a Lawyer page.
1 UT ST § 78B-7-504(1)(a)
2 UT ST § 78B-7-505(1)
3 UT ST § 78B-7-505(1)(e)
4 UT ST § 78B-7-505(1)(a)
What protections can I get in a sexual violence protective order?
A temporary sexual violence protective order can:
- order the respondent to stay away from you, your home, your school, your place of work, your place of worship, or any place you go to frequently;
- prohibit the respondent from communicating with you or any of your household or family members mentioned in the order;
- prohibit the respondent from threatening or committing sexual violence against you or your family or household members mentioned in the order; and
- order anything else the judge thinks is necessary for your safety and the safety of your household or family members.1
After a hearing, whether or not the abuser comes to the hearing, the judge can:
- order all of the protections listed above; and
- order the following additional protections:
- prohibit the respondent from purchasing, using, or possessing a weapon, such as a knife, but only if the judge decides that the use or possession of a weapon poses a serious threat of harm to you or to your household or family members;2 and
- prohibit the respondent from possessing a firearm if there has been clear and convincing evidence presented at the hearing that the use or possession of a firearm creates a serious threat of harm to you or to your household or family members.3
1 UT ST § 78B-7-504(2)
2 UT ST § 78B-7-504(3)
3 UT ST § 78B-7-504(5)
If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?
When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.
There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:
- The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
- One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
- If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.
However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.
You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.
Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.