Utah Coronavirus Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

Salt Lake criminal defense lawyer

As the coronavirus pandemic has raged across the country, it has brought with it not only great physical pain and suffering but also extreme disruption to nearly every aspect of our society. Here in Utah, our governor has encouraged citizens to stay at home as much as possible to slow the spread of this highly contagious disease. With cohabitants stuck all day in close quarters together, arguments are bound to happen. Unfortunately, many of these arguments have turned violent, leading to a rise in reports of domestic abuse in the state.

At Overson & Bugden, our Utah coronavirus domestic abuse defense lawyers understand that facing a charge like this can wreck someone’s life, even more so in the context of the current public health emergency. We will fight to get you released from custody as quickly as possible and to tell your side of the story to the court. For a free consultation, call our office today at (801) 758-2287.

Understanding a Typical Domestic Abuse Case in Utah

Utah defines domestic abuse 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.” Essentially, this covers any crime of violence allegedly committed against someone you live with. Domestic violence is not a specific crime like burglary, but rather a description of aggravated circumstances that will influence the court’s thinking about your case, especially at the sentencing stage.

Police can make arrests for domestic violence without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that the incident occurred. After your arrest, you will be taken to the local police station for the booking process. When booking is complete, you will have to wait in the holding cell or at the local detention center for an arraignment and bail hearing to take place.

At the arraignment, your charges will be read to you by the judge. At the bail hearing, the judge will decide whether you can be released from custody while the underlying criminal matter is being handled, and how much bail to require you to put up. At either of these hearings, under Utah Code § 77-36-2.7(3)(a), the court can issue a pre-trial protective order, which is like a temporary restraining order that will be in effect until your trial or a settlement.

A skilled bail hearing attorney like those at Overson & Bugden can fight to show the judge that you are not a threat to the community and to get you released on minimal to no bail. We can also try to fight the pre-trial protective order, because if it is granted, you will not be permitted to have any contact with the alleged victim, including returning to the home the two of you shared, until the matter is resolved. Violating this pre-trial restraining order is an additional crime in itself.

How the Coronavirus is Affecting Domestic Abuse Cases in Utah

As noted at the beginning of this article, the fact that people are currently required to stay at home in close quarters has resulted in an increased of domestic violence complaints coming into the police during the pandemic. However, just because someone accuses you of domestic violence does not mean that you actually committed it. Many time verbal arguments can become heated to the point where a spouse or roommate will call the police and make false claims of a physical attack.

Furthermore, social distancing has all but required most Utah courts to suspend in-person proceedings. The state Supreme Court has postponed all jury trials until at least June 2020. If you were out on bail waiting for your domestic violence case to begin, you may be waiting for a long time. If you had an upcoming court date, you likely received notice that it has been rescheduled or postponed. If you have not, or your are confused by what you received, you should contact a skilled attorney like those at Overson & Bugden. We can reach out to the court and the prosecutor’s office to find out the status of your case and if there is anything that can currently be done to move it along.

For those newly arrested on domestic violence charges, you first concern will be getting out of jail as quickly as possible. Jails are often dirty and overcrowded and have been some of the most effective breeding grounds for the virus. However, because most bail hearings are being conducted via videoconferencing, everything is delayed and you could end up spending more time in jail than usual at the worst possible time. Our lawyers can work to get you before a judge quickly and released with little to no bail. We will also attempt to prevent the judge from granting a protective order that would force you out of your home.

Penalties for Domestic Abuse in Utah

Penalties for domestic abuse charges can be quite harsh. Since domestic violence is not a charge itself like burglary, but rather a classification of a group of charges, penalties will vary greatly depending on the severity of the underlying charge. For example, while life in prison is a possibility for murdering a cohabitant, it will not be considered if you merely commit simple assault against them.

Under Utah’s domestic violence laws, each time you commit another crime of domestic violence within 5 years of your last offense, the charge will be bumped up a level. For example, a Class B misdemeanor will become a Class A misdemeanor. This will result in more severe penalties such as higher fines and longer jail time.

Call Our Utah Coronavirus Domestic Abuse Defense Attorneys Today

Right now is a time of great uncertainty in Utah and across the nation. Being arrested for domestic violence can only add to the immense stress you are already feeling, especially with the potential of being forced out of your home. At Overson & Bugden, our Utah coronavirus domestic abuse defense attorneys have years of experience fighting to bring our clients’ cases to the most positive possible resolution. Call our office today at (801) 758-2287 for a free, confidential consultation.