If you were charged with a domestic violence crime in Salt Lake City or other areas of Utah, or if a spouse or family member was arrested on domestic violence charges, you need to contact a defense attorney immediately. The criminal penalties for domestic abuse and related offenses are severe, and can include incarceration in jail or prison, fines, restitution, and the loss of gun privileges. For members of the military or police officers, this restriction on gun ownership effectively amounts to the end of the defendant’s career.
Skilled legal representation is critical if you or a loved one was charged with a domestic violence offense in Utah. Don’t wait another day to start discussing your legal options with a Salt Lake City domestic abuse attorney who has handled thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases during more than 16 years practicing criminal law. Contact the law offices of Overson & Sheen at (801) 895-3143 today for a free and confidential legal consultation.
Were You Arrested for Domestic Violence in Utah?
Domestic violence is sometimes referred to as “family violence,” “domestic abuse,” “spousal abuse,” “battering,” or “intimate partner violence” (IPV). Regardless of the term being used, domestic violence is not a specific criminal charge like burglary or robbery, but a broad term that can be applied to numerous crimes depending on the circumstances. As a result, two defendants can be charged with completely different offenses, yet both be facing domestic violence allegations.
Utah Domestic Abuse Statistics
The Salt Lake City Police Department’s Investigative Bureau reported 1,166 domestic violence arrests made in Salt Lake City during 2012, or about three arrests every day. According to the 2012 Crime in Utah Report:
- 16.28% of all Utah homicides are connected to domestic violence.
- 78.78% of all Utah domestic violence cases involved some form of weapon.
- 157 domestic violence cases involved the use of a handgun.
One of the most common misconceptions about domestic violence is that it can only be perpetrated by men against women, or that domestic violence is limited to violence between couples or exes. In truth, any person can be accused of domestic abuse, regardless of their age or gender. Children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, in-laws, and siblings can accuse cohabitants of domestic violence, in addition to spouses, partners, and boyfriends or girlfriends.
Types of Domestic Violence Charges We Handle
Under Utah Code § 77-36-1(4), state law defines domestic violence as “any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm or threat of violence or physical harm, or any attempt… to commit a criminal offense involving violence or physical harm, when committed by one cohabitant against another.” In other words, domestic violence is a violent crime or attempted violent crime against a person the defendant lives with, which is what it means to be a “cohabitant.”
Utah criminal attorney Darwin Overson represents defendants charged with a range of misdemeanor and felony offenses involving a domestic violence element. Types of domestic abuse charges that Darwin Overson handles include:
- Assault and Related Offenses
- Aggravated Assault
- Possession of a Deadly Weapon with Intent to Assault
- Simple Assault
- Aggravated Murder
- Child Abuse Homicide
- Homicide by Assault
- Negligent Homicide
- Vehicular Homicide
- Aggravated Kidnapping
- Child Kidnapping
- Sex Crimes
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Child Pornography (Sexual Exploitation of a Minor)
- Forcible Sexual Abuse
- Sexual Abuse of a Child
- Sexual Abuse of a Minor
- Other Offenses
- Disorderly Conduct
- Electronic Communication Harassment (Cyberstalking)
- Restraining Order Violations (Protective Order)
If you have been charged with any of these offenses, you need Darwin’s help right away to begin planning a legal strategy. We treat our clients with respect and compassion regardless of the accusations they are facing, and work diligently to ensure that your legal rights are aggressively protected, from start to conclusion of your case.
Jail Time for Domestic Abuse Charges in Utah
The punishment for domestic violence in Utah can be severe, especially if it is the defendant’s second or third offense. Under Utah Code § 77-36-1.1, state law establishes enhanced penalties for multiple domestic violence convictions.
If someone has a domestic violence conviction in their past, and is later convicted of a domestic abuse crime that is normally a Class C misdemeanor, the crime will be treated like a Class B misdemeanor, which is more serious, if the second offense was committed within five years of the first. Under the same circumstances, a Class B misdemeanor will become a Class A misdemeanor, and a Class A misdemeanor will become a third degree felony.
Fines and Sentencing for Spousal Abuse
Jail time or prison time and criminal fines for domestic violence crimes depend on factors like:
- How the offense is categorized. For example, is it a Class C misdemeanor or a Class B misdemeanor?
- Whether it is the defendant’s first domestic violence offense or a subsequent offense.
- Whether there were any aggravating factors.
Utah’s justice courts, which hear Class C and B misdemeanor cases, and district courts, which hear Class A misdemeanor and felony cases, have the authority to impose the following fines and sentences for domestic violence convictions:
- Class C Misdemeanor
- Jail Time — Up to 90 days
- Fine — Up to $750
- Class B Misdemeanor
- Jail Time — Up to 6 months
- Fine — Up to $1,000
- Class A Misdemeanor
- Jail Time — Up to 1 year
- Fine — Up to $2,500
- Third Degree Felony
- Prison Sentence — Up to 5 years
- Fine — Up to $5,000
- Second Degree Felony
- Prison Sentence — 1 to 15 years
- Fine — Up to $10,000
- First Degree Felony
- Prison Sentence — 5 years to life in prison
- Fine — Up to $10,000
Simple assault, for example, is generally charged as a Class B or Class A misdemeanor. Homicide cases – about one fifth of which have a domestic violence element in the state of Utah – are classified more severely. Murder, for instance, is a first degree felony for which the defendant can receive a life sentence.
Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order
The Utah Code contains laws that create unique conditions for domestic violence charges. Under Utah Code § 77-36-2.7(3)(a), “[W]hen any defendant is charged with a crime involving domestic violence, the court may, during any court hearing where the defendant is present, issue a pretrial protective order,” or restraining order, which the defendant is bound to follow.
It is a serious crime to violate a restraining order issued in response to a domestic violence charge. If the underlying charge was a misdemeanor, violating the resulting restraining order is a Class A misdemeanor. If the underlying charge was a felony, violating the resulting restraining order is a third degree felony.
Can Domestic Assault Charges Be Dropped?
Movies and TV shows often make it seem as though crime victims can drop charges at will. In reality, however, this is not the case. Though it is common for spouses, romantic partners, and family members to try to drop charges after accusing another of domestic abuse, the ultimate decision about filing charges is up to the prosecutor after the police have been notified about the alleged crime. If the prosecutor cannot gather adequate evidence, the case may be dismissed.
Salt Lake City Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Offering Free Consultations
If you or someone you love was arrested for domestic violence in Salt Lake City or other areas of Utah, everything is at stake. Not only could you receive severe penalties, a conviction could also drastically and permanently alter the way you are perceived by your friends, family, coworkers, and community. During this difficult and stressful time, you deserve the benefit of a compassionate yet aggressive criminal attorney who will work to protect your liberties and your reputation.
Though based in Salt Lake City, domestic violence defense lawyer Darwin Overson handles cases throughout Salt Lake County and the state of Utah, including Layton, Lehi, Logan, Millcreek, Orem, Provo, Sandy, South Jordan, Taylorsville, West Jordan, West Valley City, and other communities throughout Summit County, Wasatch County, Utah County, Rich County, Cache County, Box Elder County, Tooele County, and beyond. Darwin is also available to make attorney visits to detention centers and county jails throughout the state.
Spousal abuse charges demand urgent legal attention. Call the law offices of Overson & Sheen at (801) 895-3143 immediately for a free and confidential consultation.