In Utah, many victims of domestic violence and stalking also have limited financial resources, which means that they don't have the ability to retain an attorney to help them with any necessary legal action. However, these victims often have access to a free victim advocate. These advocates are trained to help victims access services and understand what resources are available to them. Advocates are often the only person who help victims with protective orders, but they are barred from giving legal advice. This, we believe, results in fewer victims getting the legal protections they are afforded under state law.
We know that these advocates are a tremendous resource, and are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to protective orders. They commonly attend protective order hearings and know a great deal about why orders are or are not awarded and what standards a judge uses to make decisions. But they aren't able to convey this information to clients under current rules, which can result in improper requests for protective orders and failed requests. This can further discourage victims from seeking justice.
We didn't think that was right. We want these victims to get the help they need, using the resources they already have access to.
In February 2021, the Certified Advocate Partners Program was authorized by the Utah Supreme Court to operate within the Utah Regulatory Sandbox. In this program, Advocates are able to give legal advice as it pertains to protective orders and stalking injunctions in Utah. During our pilot year, we will be selecting a small group of Advocates throughout the State. We will provide the legal training and, under our direction, they will provide victims with additional help.
We are optimistic that this program will help more victims receive legal protection from their abusers, enabling them time and space to recover and begin the process of moving on to the next step in their lives.
We will update this webpage with our list of Certified Advocates once they have completed their training. We are in the process of selecting and contracting with our initial team of Advocates.