Is Domestic Violence a Crime in Utah?
Domestic violence may come up in a number of legal matters, not just your criminal case. We often hear about domestic violence in cases of spousal abuse. We also hear it come up frequently in non-criminal matters like family court proceedings, including divorce and custody arrangements. Domestic violence is obviously a violent offense, but there is far more to it than that. People charged with domestic violence often commit many different types of crimes.
Domestic violence is not a single offense. Rather, it is a broad category of offenses that a person may be charged with. Domestic violence often applies in a criminal case when a person has committed a violent crime against someone with which they share an intimate or familial relationship. The crime itself could be any violent crime, like assault or homicide. It is the nature of the relationship between the defendant and the victim that determines if it a crime of domestic violence. Most often, the parties live together under the same roof.
If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence, you need to seek help from an attorney immediately. Domestic violence charges carry penalties that may be upgraded above ordinary terms, so the stakes can be quite high. There is also a heavy social stigma associated with defendants convicted for domestic violence crimes. Without proper help, this stigma could follow you for years to come. Contact our Utah domestic violence defense lawyers at Overson Law, PLLC by calling (801) 758-2287.
Criminal Charges for Domestic Violence in Utah
Domestic violence is not a criminal charge on its own. Instead, people are often charged with other crimes that are labeled as domestic violence offenses. A domestic violence crime is one in which the defendant and the alleged victim are romantic partners, family members, or cohabitants in the same household. A domestic violence charge could be an act of violence, or an attempted act, against a romantic partner or family member.
Domestic violence does not always involve direct acts of physical violence. Many other non-violent crimes can be labeled as domestic violence offenses. For example, stalking or harassment may fall under the umbrella of domestic violence if the defendant and the victim are romantic partners. This situation commonly occurs after couples break up and one person ends up stalking or harassing the other. Domestic violence could also involve offenses like unlawful detention. A person does not necessarily have to use physical force or violence to detain someone else. An example of this would be a jealous husband who locks his wife inside their apartment, only allowing her to leave with his permission.
If you are facing domestic violence-related charges, speak with our Salt Lake City domestic violence defense lawyers for help. We can help you fight your charges and work to provide you with the best defense we can.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges in Utah
The exact details of your sentence will vary depending on the underlying criminal charges in your domestic violence case. Many different crimes could be labeled as domestic violence. Some of these offenses are serious felonies, while others are only misdemeanors. As such, sentencing will vary from case to case.
An offense labeled as domestic violence may be subjected to penalty enhancements if the defendant has a previous domestic violence conviction within the past ten years. In these cases, a defendant convicted of a Class C misdemeanor would instead be convicted of a Class B misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanors will become Class A misdemeanors in the same way. In some cases, misdemeanors could even be upgraded to third-degree felonies.
Your domestic violence charges could be felonies, misdemeanors, or a combination of both. Felonies include three different tiers. Third-degree felonies can be punished with a prison term of no more than 5 years. For second-degree felonies, that term is increased to at least 1 year and no more than 15. First-degree felonies, the most serious, can be punished with no less than 5 years in prison and as long as life.
Misdemeanors are less severe and are met with shorter terms of incarceration. Class C misdemeanors may result in a jail term of no more than 90 days. For Class B misdemeanors, this term goes up to no more than 6 months. Finally, for Class A misdemeanors, which are only one step below a felony, you may go to jail for as long as 364 days.
Remember, various crimes can be considered acts of domestic violence, so there is not one single punishment for domestic violence offenses. Your potential penalties will vary based on the nature of your charges and your history of domestic violence offenses. Speak with our Utah domestic violence defense lawyers to get an accurate idea of what you are up against.
Civil and Criminal Consequences of Domestic Violence Charges in Utah
As just mentioned, the criminal consequences for domestic violence include time in jail or prison. You may also have to pay fines and abide by sentencing conditions imposed by the court. These conditions can include requirements that you stay away from the victim and have no contact with them at all. This can include face-to-face interactions as well as written or digital correspondence. Violating these terms could result in additional penalties.
Domestic violence charges are often associated with civil penalties too. For example, A parent convicted of abusing their spouse may have their domestic violence conviction used against them in a custody dispute. In divorce cases, domestic violence could affect the division of property and assets of the formerly married couple. A court may be inclined to award the abused or battered spouse with alimony if the abuse was part of the fault in causing the divorce. Speak to our Utah domestic violence defense lawyers about the possible civil consequences of your charges.
Call Our Utah Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers for Help with Your Case
If you have been accused or charged with domestic violence, an attorney can help you fight to clear your name and avoid serious criminal penalties. Schedule a free, private legal consultation with our Utah domestic violence defense lawyers today. Call Overson Law, PLLC, at (801) 758-2287 to speak with our dedicated staff.