Hoyer Law Can Help With Civil And Criminal Stalking Injunctions
What is stalking?
In Utah, the offense of stalking occurs when:
• A person “intentionally’ or knowingly”
• Engages in a “course of conduct,” defined as “two or more acts;”
• “Directed at a specific person;” and
• Knows or should know that the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person “in the victim’s circumstances;”
- To “fear” for the person’s own “safety” or the safety of a third person; or
- To suffer “other emotional distress” (i.e., “significant” mental suffering without regard to whether treatment or counseling is required).
A person is also guilty of the offense of stalking if they “intentionally or knowingly” violate a Civil Stalking Injunction or a Criminal Stalking Injunction.
It is not a defense that the alleged stalker did not know the alleged stalking acts were unwanted or that the alleged stalker did not intend to cause the alleged victim fear or other emotional distress.
Also, stalking injunctions may not be obtained against police officers or government or licensed private investigators who are acting in their official capacity.
Who can get a Civil Stalking Injunction?
“Any” person who believes they are being stalked may file a petition or “Request for an Ex Parte Civil Stalking Injunction.” (“Ex parte” means that the alleged stalking victim applies for the temporary Civil Stalking Injunction without the alleged stalker presenting any evidence in their defense.) The alleged stalking victim is called the Petitioner and the alleged stalker is called the Respondent.
In the petition, Petitioner must identify specific events and dates of acts they believe constitute stalking. To successfully obtain a Civil Stalking Injunction, Petitioner must also provide “corroborating evidence” of the alleged stalking, such as a police report, an affidavit, prior court order, or any other evidence which “tends to prove” the stalking allegations.
It should be noted that the requirements for getting a Civil Stalking Injunction are different from the requirements for obtaining a Protective Order. For example, a Protective Order may be obtained only by a person who qualifies as a “cohabitant” under Utah law; whereas, a Civil Stalking Injunction may be obtained by anybody who gives the Court “reason to believe” that they are being stalked.
Also, regardless of whether a Petitioner applies for a Civil Stalking Injunction or a prosecutor files for a Criminal Stalking Injunction, the elements for the stalking injunction are the same.
Where do I file a Request for a Civil Stalking Injunction?
A Petitioner must file a Request for a temporary Ex Parte Civil Stalking Injunction in the District Court in which the Petitioner or Respondent reside, or in which “any” of the acts occurred.
How much time does a person have to challenge or appeal a temporary Civil Stalking Injunction?
After a temporary Ex Parte Civil Stalking Injunction is issued by the Court and served on Respondent by, e.g., a sheriff or constable, Respondent has ten (10) days to file, in writing, a “Request for Hearing on Civil Stalking Injunction.”
What happens at a hearing on the temporary Civil Stalking Injunction?
At the evidentiary hearing on the previously-issued temporary Ex Parte Civil Stalking Injunction, which is generally held within ten (10) days of the request for hearing, Petitioner has the burden to prove each of the elements of the offense of stalking by a “preponderance of the evidence” (i.e., the alleged stalking victim must show that more likely than not the alleged stalker engaged in the offense of stalking under the Utah statute). Respondent will have an opportunity to present evidence, cross-examine Petitioner’s witnesses, make a closing argument, etc. At the end of the hearing, the court will determine whether to “modify, revoke, or continue” the Civil Stalking Injunction.
How long does a Civil Stalking Injunction last?
Generally, a modified or continued Civil Stalking Injunction expires after three (3) years from the date of service on Respondent. Upon application of Petitioner, the Court that granted the Civil Stalking Injunction may “dissolve” the injunction.
Conversely, a Criminal Stalking Injunction (and a Protective Order for that matter) is permanent and will remain in effect until or unless a Court issues a contrary order.
What are the consequences of a Civil Stalking Injunction?
Civil Stalking Injunctions can carry serious consequences. These orders become a public record showing up in background checks conducted by prospective employers. They can also prevent a person under federal law from possessing, transporting, shipping or receiving firearms or ammunition, including hunting weapons. Stalking injunctions can order persons to stay away from their own homes if they reside with the stalking victim. They can also affect child custody or parent-time, as the injunctions can order persons to have no contact with “immediate family members” (e.g., children who have regularly resided in the home within the previous six months).
A first-time violation of a Civil Stalking Injunction initiated by a Petitioner can result in misdemeanor criminal charges punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. A first-time violation of a Criminal Stalking Injunction initiated by a prosecutor or a second conviction for violating any stalking injunction, classification as a “cohabitant,” or use of a dangerous weapon in the commission of the criminal offense of stalking can constitute a felony crime carrying penalties of jail time of between five to 15 years in prison and fines between $5,000 and $10,000.
Utah Stalking Injunction Laws
U.C.A. §77-3a-101 (civil stalking injunction petition; evidentiary hearing; burden of proof; expiration)
U.C.A. §76-5-106.5 (offense of stalking defined; criminal penalties for violation; permanent criminal stalking injunction)