Domestic violence charges can be incredibly challenging to deal with because these cases are often fraught with emotional tension. Domestic violence charges tend to be associated with harsh penalties and various collateral consequences.
Domestic violence is not a singular charge but applies to many criminal offenses committed against a cohabitant. Cohabitants are often romantic partners or spouses but may also be family members. Domestic violence does not usually come with a separate penalty but enhances the existing penalties of other crimes. There may be several ways in which to defend yourself. For example, if the alleged victim was not a cohabitant or if the crime was an act of self-defense, we can argue that charges should be dropped or dismissed. Domestic violence charges often carry additional consequences, including the effects of restraining or protective orders and child custody arrangements.
Your case should be handled by attorneys with the skills and experience to effectively fight your charges. Contact our Provo, UT domestic violence defense attorneys for a free case evaluation today. Call Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287.
How Domestic Violence Crimes Are Defined in Provo, UT
Domestic violence may be applied to criminal offenses inflicted by one cohabitant against another. The defendant and alleged victim must be cohabitants for domestic violence charges to apply. Our Provo, UT domestic violence defense attorneys have years of experience handling these kinds of cases and are more than prepared to assist you.
Under Utah Code § 77B-7-102(5), a cohabitant may be any of the following people:
- Your spouse,
- Someone living with you as if they were a spouse,
- Someone related to you by blood or marriage to the second degree,
- Someone you share children with, born or unborn,
- A person you live with, or
- Someone with whom you share a consensual sexual relationship.
People who are not considered cohabitants include parents and minor children, including natural, adoptive, and stepchildren.
Domestic violence is defined under Utah Code § 77-36-1(4) and includes physical harm, threats to harm, or attempts to harm a cohabitant. The law includes a lengthy list of offenses that may be considered domestic violence if the defendant and alleged victim are cohabitants. The list includes crimes like assault, homicide, harassment, sexual offenses, stalking, and more.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in Provo, UT
Domestic violence is not an independent criminal charge that comes with separate penalties. Instead, a crime labeled as domestic violence may come with enhanced or upgraded penalties. Your penalties will depend on the nature of the offense and how it fits the domestic violence definition.
Domestic violence is considered a serious aggravating factor for many cases, and your potential prison or jail time is likely to increase. Our Provo, UT domestic violence defense attorneys can help you present mitigating factors and hopefully prevent your penalties from being upgraded if you are convicted.
There are also increased penalties for repeat domestic violence offenders. If you were previously convicted of a domestic violence offense, you might see your charges upgraded under Utah Code § 77-36-1.1.
In general, your charges will be upgraded if you are convicted of domestic violence. For example, under the law, if your offense would ordinarily be a Class C misdemeanor, it becomes a Class B misdemeanor if it is an act of domestic violence. Similarly, Class B misdemeanors may become third-degree felonies. When charges are upgraded this way, the penalties and potential jail or prison time increase.
Defending Yourself Against Domestic Violence Charges in Provo, UT
There may be many ways you can defend yourself against domestic violence charges. Every case is unique, and each defendant might have unique opportunities for defense. Our Provo, UT domestic violence defense lawyers can help you review your case and develop the most effective defense strategies possible.
In some cases, the parties involved are not cohabitants, and the charges do not meet the definition of domestic violence. You can talk to our team about your relationship with the alleged victim. If you are not cohabitants, we can argue that your charges are incorrect.
Domestic violence cases are often very complicated and require time to sort out. For example, it might come to light later that the defendant’s supposed violent crime was actually an act of self-defense. If this sounds like your situation, we can argue that your actions were not criminal and that you were protecting yourself from harm.
Domestic violence cases tend to be very emotionally charged. It is not unheard of for a spouse, partner, or former partner to make false accusations to get back at the defendant. If the allegations against you are false, speak to our team immediately, and we will hopefully get your charges dropped.
Additional Consequences of Domestic Violence Charges in Provo, UT
Domestic violence is different from other criminal offenses because it often comes with numerous collateral consequences. You might be the subject of a restraining order, be barred from seeing your children, or have your conviction used against you in a divorce. Our Provo, UT domestic violence defense attorneys can help you fight your charges so you can avoid these consequences.
Protection or restraining orders are fairly common in domestic violence cases. Courts are very interested in protecting victims and witnesses and may impose a protective order until the end of the case. The protective order might require you to stay away from the alleged victim, any children you have with them, and refrain from contacting the victim at all. It is also possible that you will be required to surrender weapons and firearms to law enforcement.
If you are convicted, protective orders may be made permanent. Violations of protective orders are considered criminal offenses, and you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor under Utah Code § 76-5-108(1).
There might be civil consequences for domestic violence convictions too. For example, domestic violence convictions may work against you when deciding child custody arrangements in a subsequent divorce proceeding. Contact our legal team about fighting your charges, so they do not become big problems in other areas of your life.
Contact Our Provo, UT Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. These cases often have ripple effects across numerous aspects of defendants’ lives. Contact our Provo, UT domestic violence defense lawyers at Overson & Bugden. Call (801) 758-2287 for a free case evaluation.