Is Domestic Violence a Crime in Utah?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

Assaulting a spouse, dating partner, or someone else in your household is clearly illegal.  It is unquestionable that you can be charged with a crime if you are accused of doing this – and many of these charges can be difficult to fight.  However, many people might be unclear on whether domestic violence or domestic assault is a separate crime by itself or whether these kinds of charges come under other assault and violent crime statutes.  The Salt Lake City domestic violence lawyers at Overson Law explain how these crimes are charged and what potential penalties you could face for domestic violence in Utah.

Is Domestic Violence a Separate Crime Under Utah Law?

Utah has no crime called “domestic violence” or “domestic assault.”  Instead, Utah uses the general criminal laws for assault and other violent crimes.  However, the Utah Code of Criminal Procedure sets aside special rules under the Cohabitant Abuse Procedures Act to enhance the penalties for a domestic violence offense and give police and courts additional powers to punish these offenses.

Section 77-36-1 and the following sections deal with how the government can treat crimes committed against other adults in the household.  This means that a crime can be counted as a “domestic violence” crime if it is committed against any adult in the household, including the following:

  • Spouses
  • Romantic partners
  • The parent of your children
  • Someone pregnant with your child
  • A “parent, grandparent, sibling, or” other relative within certain degrees
  • An adult roommate

Children do not count for domestic violence – but crimes committed against children are often enhanced or they could be considered child abuse.

Crimes that qualify as “domestic violence” offenses cover a broad range of violent crimes.  The definition even expands to include crimes that include a threat of violence, which means that many stalking and harassment crimes could also qualify as domestic violence crimes in addition to clear-cut violent crimes like assault.  Even crimes like witness tampering or disorderly conduct can qualify as domestic violence crimes under the definitions included in Utah Code § 77-36-1(4).

Moreover, crimes can qualify as domestic violence offenses even if they are not completed.  This means that conspiracy to commit a crime and attempted crimes can also qualify as domestic violence crimes, even if the crime was not committed in full.  However, there usually must be a step taken toward committing these crimes for attempt or conspiracy to be charged.

Penalties for Domestic Violence Crimes in Utah

Because the specific crimes charged as domestic violence in Utah can vary widely, it is difficult to pin down the specific penalties for domestic violence.  You should speak with a lawyer to help determine the exact range of fines and jail time you might be looking at in your case, but most criminal charges fall under certain classifications of crime in Utah.  These crime grades carry the ranges of penalties listed below:

Felonies

  • First degree felonies carry up to $10,000 in fines and 5 years to life in prison.
  • Second degree felonies carry up to $10,000 in fines and 1-15 years in prison.
  • Third degree felonies carry up to $5,000 in fines and up to 5 years in prison.

Misdemeanors

  • Class A misdemeanors carry fines up to $2,500 and up to 364 days in jail
  • Class B misdemeanors carry fines up to $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail
  • Class C misdemeanors carry fines up to $750 in fines and up to 90 days in jail.

Some crimes may be graded as different levels of crime depending on the harm done.  For instance, assault can be charged as simple assault or aggravated assault depending on the circumstances of the offense.  Other charges are set at a particular grade of crime.

Repeat offenses for domestic violence are usually increased by one grade, upgrading the offense to a more serious one.  In addition to these increased penalties, domestic violence crimes may carry additional penalties and restraining orders that might be construed as punishment.

Restraining Orders for Domestic Violence in Utah

If you are accused of committing a domestic violence crime in Utah, you may face a restraining order.  Restraining orders and protective orders are often issued on an emergency basis to help alleged victims of domestic violence get clear of the danger.  These orders can be issued to kick the accused out of their house, keep them from interacting with the victim, stop them from possessing a firearm, grant the victim child custody, and create other restrictions.

In most cases, you cannot fight a restraining order right away.  Instead, these orders are issued “ex parte,” which means that they are issued at one party’s request.  The order will remain in place on a temporary basis, usually around 10 days, until you get a chance to respond in court and argue against continuing the restrictions.

If you violate a protective order, there is a law that says that arrest is mandatory.  This takes the decision to arrest you away from the officer and guarantees an arrest.  Violating a restraining order in Utah may also lead to additional charges, additional penalties, and new terms on the restraining order.

Call Our Salt Lake City Domestic Violence Lawyers for Help Fighting Charges Against You

If you were accused of a domestic violence crime, you may face arrest, restraining orders, and potential penalties.  Call our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers for help fighting the protective orders and charges filed against you.  Our attorneys will help you protect your rights and fight to clear your name and keep these charges off your criminal record.  For a free legal consultation on your case, call Overson Law today at (801) 758-2287.