Salt Lake City Domestic Violence Charges Defense Lawyer
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 firearm 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 Law, PLLC, at (801) 758-2328 today for a free and confidential legal consultation. You may also contact our firm online.
Were You Arrested for Domestic Violence in Salt Lake City?
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.
Types of Domestic Violence Charges Our Salt Lake City Lawyers 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. To learn more about the penalties for domestic violence charges in Utah, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer today.
Fines and Sentencing Guidelines for Spousal Abuse in Salt Lake City, UT
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.
It is important to note that the criminal penalties for domestic violence will vary depending on the circumstances of your case. For example, if a defendant 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 as a Class B misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanors are more severe 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.
Jail time or prison time and criminal fines for domestic violence crimes depend on factors like:
- How the offense is categorized (e.g., 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
As mentioned, Class C misdemeanors are the least severe type of misdemeanor a defendant can face. In Utah, if a defendant is convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, they can be sentenced to a maximum of 90 days in jail and a possible fine of up to $750. Class B misdemeanors carry increased penalties in comparison to Class C misdemeanors. If a defendant is convicted of a Class B misdemeanor, they can be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail and $1,000 of criminal fines.
Class A misdemeanors carry the most severe penalties out of all types of misdemeanors. In Utah, Class A misdemeanors carry a maximum of one year in jail and $2,500 of fines.
Felonies are crimes that carry a penalty of at least one year in prison or more. If a defendant’s circumstances have led them to be charged with a third degree felony for domestic violence, they will face more severe penalties than those imposed with misdemeanors. If a defendant is convicted of a third degree felony, the defendant can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison and could owe $5,000 in criminal penalties.
It is important to note that if a defendant is convicted of a Class B or Class C misdemeanor, they may be able to perform compensatory service to avoid paying any criminal fines. Compensatory service is unpaid work where a defendant will earn $10 per hour that will go to the cost of their criminal fines. A defendant can perform compensatory service for state or local agencies, nonprofit organizations, and even a private organization pending approval from the court.
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.
To learn more about factors that can affect criminal sentencing, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney.
Factors that May Affect Sentencing for Domestic Violence in Salt Lake City, Utah
There are a number of aggravating and mitigating factors that can affect the criminal penalties for a defendant. Aggravating factors have the potential to increase the severity of penalties if a defendant is convicted. For example, if the victim in the case was severely injured due to domestic abuse, this could increase a defendant’s penalties if they are convicted. Other aggravating factors that can increase criminal penalties for a domestic abuse case:
- The defendant had authority over the victim
- The victim was more vulnerable than the average person (e.g., disabled, mental infirmity)
- The defendant committed an especially heinous crime
- A defendant used a dangerous weapon to commit the domestic abuse
- The defendant hurt a child or hurt another family member in the presence of a child
- The defendant was previously convicted of a similar offense
Alternatively, mitigating factors may decrease the penalties for a criminal sentence. For instance, if a defendant had fully cooperated with law enforcement, this may help reduce some criminal penalties. Additionally, if a defendant has developmental disabilities, the court is willing to consider this as a mitigating factor.
If you are concerned about the possible penalties that can be imposed for the crime you were charged with, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. Our firm can help you explore your legal options to determine the appropriate steps to take in your case.
Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order after a Domestic Violence Case in Utah
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.
A restraining order is a court order that makes it illegal for a person (usually the defendant) to come within a certain range of another person (often the victim). If a victim believes that the defendant poses them a reasonable risk, they can request the court to grant them a restraining order.
A restraining order can have a number of impacts between spouses or individuals in a relationship. For example, if a restraining order is issued against a spouse who is also a cohabitant, their living situation may have to change.
In some cases, a victim could petition the court for an ex parte order even if there is no upcoming trial against their alleged abuser. Ex parte orders are similar to restraining orders in that they prevent a person from performing certain actions or restrict certain rights. For example, a victim may be awarded temporary custody of children as part of an ex parte order.
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. However, the prosecutor can also proceed without help or testimony from the victim if they feel they have a strong case.
Our Salt Lake City Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers Can Help
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, but 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 Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2328 immediately for a free and confidential consultation.