Being accused of domestic abuse is a scary experience at any time, but while the current coronavirus pandemic is raging it is even scarier. Yet, with everyone stuck inside under stay-at-home orders, domestic violence arrests are increasing. The prospect of being forced out of your house by a restraining order at a time when we are supposed to be staying at home except for essential activities is enough to cause anyone to worry. Aside from this, if convicted of domestic violence charges, you could face serious penalties, including time in prison, where the coronavirus is rapidly spreading.
At Overson Law, PLLC, our Salt Lake City coronavirus domestic abuse defense lawyers have years of experience defending clients who have been charged with domestic violence. We will leave no stone unturned investigating your case and fighting for the charges to be dropped or downgraded. For a free consultation, call us today at (801) 758-2287.
How Domestic Abuse Cases Work in Salt Lake City
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 abuse is a violent crime or attempted violent crime against a person the defendant lives with. If the police have probable cause to believe you committed an act of domestic violence, you will be arrested.
After being arrested for domestic abuse during coronavirus, you will be taken to the local police station for what is known as the booking process. During this process, you will be fingerprinted and photographed and any items you had on you at the time of your arrest will be inventoried for safekeeping. After this, the police will keep you in a holding cell until you can be brought before a judge for an arraignment and bail hearing.
At this hearing, the judge will decide whether you can be released on bail and at what amount bail will be set. An experienced bail hearing defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC can fight to get you released with minimal to no bail. However, in domestic violence cases, these hearings usually address another matter as well. 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.
If you are released on bail but a restraining order is issued against you, as if often the case in these matters, you will not be able to return to the home you shared with the alleged victim. The police may allow you to return there to obtain some items under their supervision, but after that you will have to find another place to stay until the court holds a hearing on the issuance of a final restraining order. Violating a pre-trial protective order is a crime.
How Domestic Abuse Cases in Salt Lake City Are Affected by Coronavirus
With the unprecedented nature of the public health crisis of coronavirus we are currently facing, and public officials urging everyone to stay at home and avoid crowds, the court system is currently operating on a severely curtailed basis, particularly for in-person proceedings. Pre-trial conferences and hearings are largely either postponed or being conducted remotely. The state Supreme Court announced in March that all jury trials are postponed until at least June 2020.
This means that if you have been charged with domestic violence during coronavirus and are currently awaiting your trial, it is likely to be delayed. This can have major ramifications for someone complying with a pre-trial protective order who could be forced to find alternative living arrangements for even longer. If you do not already have a lawyer, now is the time to hire one. Our attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC can work to find out what the status of your case is and whether you need to show up for upcoming court dates. We can also try to continue settlement negotiations remotely.
If you are newly arrested on domestic violence charges, you should contact an experienced Salt Lake City Coronavirus domestic abuse defense lawyer like those at Overson Law, PLLC right away. Police have seen a rise in domestic violence incidents while the stay-at-home recommendations have been in effect, and are taking these matters very seriously. However, because of delays in the court system, you could spend more time than ever waiting in jail for your arraignment to be conducted by videoconference. Our attorneys will work to get you before a judge and released from jail as quickly as possible.
Penalties for Salt Lake City Domestic Abuse Charges During Coronavirus
Penalties for domestic abuse charges will vary depending on the nature and severity of the underlying crime. For example, while simple assault against a spouse is typically classified as a Class A or B misdemeanor, attempted murder of a spouse will be classified as a first-degree felony. Furthermore, under Utah’s system, you face more serious charges each time you are charged with domestic violence. If it is your second offense within five years, the charge will be bumped up a level. For example, a Class C misdemeanor will become a Class B misdemeanor.
Note that violating a restraining order is considered a Class A misdemeanor if the underlying charge is a misdemeanor and a third-degree felony if the underlying charge was a felony. In either case, serious penalties such as jail time can result.
Call Our Salt Lake City Coronavirus Domestic Abuse Lawyers Today
With everyone confined to close quarters, arguments between cohabitants have become more common. In line with this, domestic violence complaints have increased. Being arrested for domestic violence right now can mean a long wait in a dirty and overcrowded jail followed by a temporary restraining order forcing you out of your home. At Overson Law PLLC, our Salt Lake City coronavirus domestic abuse lawyers can work to get you released form jail quickly with as few consequences as possible. For a free consultation, call us today at (801) 758-2287.