Domestic violence is an incredibly serious crime. This can make it all the more scary when you are falsely accused. Not only is domestic violence taken seriously by law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges, but extralegal parties may also take the charges seriously – even if they are not true. This could make friends and loved ones think of you differently or not want to be around you altogether. With so much at stake, you need to know what to do if you are falsely accused of domestic violence in Utah.
If you are falsely accused of domestic violence in Utah, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. With their help, you can fight against the charges and clear your name in a court of law.
For a free, totally confidential analysis of your case, call Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 and speak to our dedicated Salt Lake City domestic violence accusation defense lawyers.
How is Domestic Violence Defined in Utah?
The crime of domestic violence in Utah is laid out in Utah Code § 77-36-1(4) as a criminal offense that involves physical harm committed by one “cohabitant” against another. A “cohabitant” is simply someone with whom you live, but it also includes dating partners and coparents that do not live with you. The term is more formally defined in Utah Code § 78B-7-102(5)(a) as someone who is at least 16 years old and is a spouse of the accused, living as if the spouse of the accused, related to the accused in at least the second degree, has at least one child (or an unborn child) with the accused, lives with the accused, or is in a sexual relationship with the accused. As one can see, a cohabitant can have many different kinds of relationships with the victim.
In this way, domestic violence is less defined by the specific conduct and more defined by who it is done to. Because of this definition, one way to defend against a domestic violence claim is to demonstrate that you are not the cohabitant of the victim. If you are not a cohabitant, you cannot be convicted of domestic violence but can still face charges for the underlying offense (assault, etc.).
Common Reasons for False Domestic Violence Accusations in Utah?
If you are falsely accused of domestic violence, one of the questions that may be on your mind is, “Why?” What happened to make this a reality? The answer to why people falsely accuse others, however, will be different for each case.
Many partners will accuse another of domestic violence in order to “get back” at them for emotionally hurt them. They know that the damage of criminal charges can be combined with a feeling of betrayal and despair to be absolutely devastating. Sometimes resolving these interpersonal issues through professionals (lawyers, therapists, etc.) can lead to charges being dropped.
False accusations of domestic violence may also come up in child custody cases. If a parent is accused of domestic violence, they may lose custody of their child through a court order until the domestic violence dispute is resolved. Clearing yourself of criminal charges might be essential to your child custody case.
Another reason people falsely accuse others is to weaken their reputation. Domestic violence is extremely frowned upon in society, and anyone accused can be turned into a pariah, even more so if they are convicted. If you can prove you were accused for this reason, you may even be able to bring a defamation claim against the accuser once criminal proceedings are over.
How to Respond After You Are Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence in Utah?
If you are falsely accused of domestic violence, you need to act and respond quickly. Since the consequences, both legal and otherwise, are so serious, you do not have time to hesitate.
Get in Touch with Our Lawyers
It is imperative that you get in touch with legal counsel as soon as possible. It is extremely ill-advised to try and combat these charges without professional help. Once you speak with our Logan criminal defense lawyers, however, we can begin working on a strong defense for you so that you can clear your name and get back to living your life.
Do Not Contact or Go Near the Victim
No matter how much you may feel to the contrary, you should not have contact with the person falsely accusing you of domestic violence. There are many reasons for this. First, any attempt to try and “negotiate” with the alleged victim can be seen as harassment or otherwise trying to bother them. This could make you appear more guilty than you actually are. Not only can this hurt your case, but it may confirm the suspicions of people you care about before a verdict is ever rendered. Even if the verdict comes back in your favor, those individuals may still remember this initial conduct and think differently of you as a result.
Additionally, sometimes, alleged domestic violence victims get restraining orders against their defendant. In this case, even though you are falsely accused, that would be you. The idea behind a restraining order is to keep the defendant away from the person so they are not harassed, threatened, or further hurt. Violating restraining orders is taken incredibly seriously and could turn a false accusation of a crime into a real one.
Any evidence that proves your innocence is invaluable if you are falsely accused of a domestic violence claim. You need to produce things that refute the alleged victim’s claims. For example, if someone claims that you assaulted them at a certain time at a certain place, you can present evidence that you were somewhere else entirely. The more evidence you have to prove your innocence, the better.
Speak with Our Utah Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers Today
If you need help with criminal matters, call Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 to get a free case review from one of our Ogden criminal defense lawyers.