Protection orders work in most Utah cases, but they offer some women little protection against abusers who flout the law, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. One man, banned from contacting his domestic violence victim, was charged in 2002 with seven felony counts of violating the order. Four of the cases were dropped. He served only 30 days in jail, despite a sentence of six months. His case was found by Chuck Diviney and Asha Parekh, who studied what happened in 279 charges filed against those accused of violating protective orders in Salt Lake City in 2002.
What they found alarmed them, and may be a snapshot of a larger problem in Utah, where domestic violence-related homicides are about 26 percent higher than the national average. Of 279 charges filed, 143 – about 51 percent – were dismissed. Of the remaining cases, 32 had been filed as felony charges. Of those, nearly half were pleaded down to a misdemeanor. Most offenders spent little time behind bars for their crimes. In another case, a man failed to show up for court four times. He spent 30 days behind bars and disappeared, said Diviney, a clinical trainer for the state’s Adult Protective Services. In cases when protection orders are violated, the perpetrators often walk away without taking responsibility for their actions, said Rickell James-Irish of the Division of Child and Family Services. “[Enforcement of protective orders] is spotty; it’s inconsistent,” she said. “There are some judges who are excellent, who get it, and there are some who are not.”