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The Difficult Aspects of Dealing with Protective Orders and Stalking Injunctions

Interviewer: What are more difficult aspects for an attorney to deal with in cases like this?

Danielle Hawkes: The most difficult aspect for an attorney to go with is sorting thought the story and the evidence and condensing it to a manageable document for the court to see. The court doesn’t want to hear an hour and a half long story about the relationship. The court needs to know certain pieces of the relationship, and then the court needs to hear very specific pieces of the harm. The attorney can really help let that out.

I may listen to an hour and half of the story, but the court is definitely not going to allow you to do that in court. The judge will cut you off. That’s the tricky part about being an attorney involved in these cases is really condensing the information, but not losing the story in the process of condensing the information. The story needs to stay intact.

The Difference between Temporary and Permanent Protective Orders

Interviewer: How long is the temporary order going to last? The permanent, is that permanently permanent?

Danielle Hawkes: The temporary order is just until the hearing can be held for protective order. The temporary order in a stalking case is until someone asks for a hearing. If they don’t ask for a hearing, then they will automatically turn into a permanent stalking injunction. A protective order, there will always be hearing in a protective order. The temporary order will go until that hearing is finished. Once the hearing is finished, there will either be a permanent order in placed, or the court will dismiss it altogether.

If a permanent order is in place, the protection pieces of the order, the pieces that are for safety will go indefinitely, until someone asked them to be dismissed. The other pieces of the order about property, about visitation, and custody, those allot 150 days.

Immediate Concerns of a Client Involved in a Protective Order Hearing

Interviewer: When a client meets with you, what are some of their immediate needs or common questions or concerns?

Danielle Hawkes: One of the first things client needs to know is whether they need to call the police or not. A lot of times I have clients who are scared to call the police. I can listen to the story and let them know if it’s common to call the police in this situation or maybe if it’s not so common. They need to call the police, and they need to get a protective order right away if the situation calls for it to protect themselves immediately. These are not cases that can wait a couple months. These are cases that need help right now. The other thing a client needs help with is service of process.

The Protective Order or Stalking Injunction is Only Valid Once the Other Person Has Been Served the Document

The protective order stalking injunction, all these sort of things are only valid once the other person has been served the document. The court has free service program, which is fantastic for those who can’t afford an attorney or certain things like that. I have people I use to serve these documents in a much more efficient and effective way. It does cost money, but we can generally get them served much faster.

There are Free Services in Utah for People Who are Facing an Imminent Threat and Cannot Afford an Attorney

Interviewer: What if a person is in danger and cannot afford to hire an attorney?

Danielle Hawkes: If you don’t have enough money for an attorney, you should not give up. There are a lot of services in Utah to help people who are in domestic violence situations or stalking situations. You can go to any district court. In Salt Lake City for example, if you just walk into the courthouse, there’s a whole office dedicated to domestic violence. They can help you fill out the form, and you can sit and wait. They’ll actually enter or just make a decision on the protective order right there while you wait.

They will also help you serve the document, and they’ll help you right through the whole process. It’s a free service. As a lot of free services go, they don’t have a lot of time to spend with you on the evidence. They’re not going to be as hands-on as a private attorney would be, but it’s helpful nonetheless. I’ve actually had clients who go to the court and get their protective order on their own, and then come to me help them with the hearing. They go to the court, get the protective order, they set the hearing, and then they come and hire me to defend it or prosecute it at the hearing.

I think that’s a very good thing to do if someone is danger. First call the police. The police will handle the immediate need. Then right away, go to the court and get a protective order.