What Questions Should I Ask My Domestic Violence Lawyer?

Man and woman having domestic dispute and yelling

17 Nov 2023 /

What Questions Should I Ask My Domestic Violence Lawyer?

What Questions Should I Ask My Domestic Violence Lawyer

Being charged with domestic violence can be an overwhelming. And a scary experience. You may have many questions about the legal process. And your options. Your domestic violence lawyer is there to guide you, explain your rights, and advocate for the best possible outcome in your case. Here are some key questions you should ask when meeting with a criminal defense attorney after domestic violence charges in Utah.

 Gravis Law has a team of criminal defense attorneys that work diligently to ensure you receive the best legal outcomes. Call our team today at 385.213.2798 for your free consultation. 

Understanding the Charges

The first step is gaining a clear understanding of the exact charges you are facing. Here are some important questions to ask:

  • What are the specific domestic violence charges I am facing under Utah law? Get the exact statutes and classifications.

  • Is this being charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense? What factors determine this?

  • What are the minimum and maximum penalties if I am convicted?

  • Will I face jail time, fines, probation, counseling, etc. if convicted?

  • How does having a prior record or violations affect the charges and penalties?

  • Are there any sentence enhancements that could increase the penalties?

A criminal defense attorney can explain the nuances of domestic violence laws in Utah and how they apply to your unique case. They can also provide insight on typical penalties and outcomes. This information will help you make informed decisions as your case progresses.

Assessing the Prosecution’s Case

Next, you’ll want to discuss the prosecutor’s case and evidence against you. Key questions include:

  • What evidence does the prosecution have implicating me? Police reports, witness statements, photographs, medical records, etc.

  • Are there any inconsistencies, credibility issues, or other weaknesses in the prosecution’s case?

  • Could any of the evidence be suppressed or excluded?

  • Based on the evidence, how strong is the prosecution’s case? What are some of the holes or flaws?

  • Realistically, what are the chances of getting charges reduced or dismissed based on the evidence?

Your criminal defense attorney will analyze the prosecution’s case and explain whether they have enough evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Understanding the strength of their case will guide the defense strategy.

Legal Defenses in Domestic Violence Cases

There are various legal defenses that could potentially defeat domestic violence charges or lead to reduced penalties. Ask your domestic violence lawyer:

  • What are some common defenses in domestic violence cases that may apply to my charges? Self-defense, false accusations, mistaken identity, lack of criminal intent, etc.

  • What defenses do you think are best suited for my particular case?

  • How can we work to establish and prove these defenses? Gathering evidence, finding witnesses, reconstructing events, etc.

  • What will you do to investigate and build the defense case on my behalf?

  • How can I help in constructing my defense? Provide names of witnesses, evidence, alibis, etc.

Your attorney will come up with targeted defense strategies to fight the charges by proving your innocence, showing mitigating circumstances, or undermining the prosecution’s case.

Possibilities for Plea Agreements

Many domestic violence cases end in plea bargains rather than going to trial. Ask your domestic violence lawyer:

  • Based on the charges and evidence, what type of plea deal do you think the prosecution might offer?

  • Would a plea bargain be beneficial in my case compared to going to trial?

  • What lesser charges might they potentially agree to in a plea deal?

  • Could we negotiate on the penalties and sentence recommendations?

  • How can we best position a plea offer that I would be willing to accept?

  • When do you recommend starting plea negotiations with the prosecutor?

Understanding the plea bargaining landscape will allow you to make informed decisions. An experienced attorney can advise you on the pros and cons of pleading versus trial.

Preparing for Trial

If you decide to take your case to trial, ask your lawyer:

  • What are the steps you will take to prepare for trial? Developing defense strategy, motions to exclude evidence, subpoenaing witnesses, trial prep, etc.

  • How strong are our chances if we go to trial versus taking a plea deal?

  • What can I do to assist in getting ready for trial?

  • Who are the potential witnesses you plan to call? How will you prepare them for testimony?

  • What questions will you ask prosecution witnesses on cross-examination?

  • Will I need to testify in my own defense? If so, how will you prepare me?

  • Approximately how long will the trial take? What can I expect throughout the process?

Thorough trial preparation will ensure the strongest defense case possible. Your lawyer should walk you through their game plan.

Consequences of a Conviction

If convicted of domestic violence, you may face penalties beyond just jail time. Be sure to ask:

  • How will a conviction impact my criminal record long-term?

  • Could I be prohibited from owning firearms or living in public housing?

  • Are domestic violence classes, counseling, or probation likely?

  • Could I lose rights regarding child custody or visitation?

  • Are protective orders or restraining orders probable? What are the implications?

  • Will I be subject to any other collateral consequences of a conviction?

Understand the full effects a domestic violence conviction could have. Your lawyer can explain the potential fallout.

Parole and Probation Considerations


  • If I receive probation, what terms and conditions will likely be imposed? Anger management, counseling, drug testing, etc.

  • How closely will my probation officer monitor my compliance? Home visits, check-ins, etc.

  • What happens if I violate any terms of my probation? Potential penalties?

  • If sentenced to jail time, when will I become eligible for parole?

  • What factors will the parole board consider in deciding my release?

  • What conditions will I need to follow when released on parole? Reporting, restrictions, etc.

Probation or parole may be part of a plea deal or sentence. Be informed on what will be expected of you.

Payment and Attorney Fees

Don’t neglect the financial aspect:

  • What are your fees and billing rates? Get a written agreement.

  • Will a retainer be required upfront? What amount?

  • Are there any additional costs beyond your fees I should prepare for? 

    • Expert witnesses, investigators, etc.

  • How can I pay your fees? Payment plan, credit card, etc.

  • Will your fees increase if this goes to trial versus a plea deal?

  • Could I potentially recover your fees if I am acquitted?

Having a clear budget and payment structure makes the process easier. Make sure you understand your lawyer’s billing policies.

Additional Questions

  • How quickly do you respond to calls and emails from clients?

  • How can I best reach you with updates or questions on my case?

  • How frequently will you provide case status updates and consult with me?

  • Do you foresee my case wrapping up quickly or taking several months?

  • What else should I be doing right now to help my case?

Don’t hesitate to ask any other questions on your mind. The more info you have, the better.

FAQs on Questions to Ask a Domestic Violence Lawyer

1. What are the most important questions I should ask my lawyer initially?

Focus first on understanding the exact charges, potential penalties, strength of the prosecution’s case, and possibilities for getting charges reduced or dismissed. These issues will shape your overall legal strategy.

2. How can I assess whether my lawyer is really good at defending domestic violence cases?

Look for substantial experience specifically handling domestic violence cases, not just general criminal defense. Ask about their track record getting domestic violence charges dropped or reduced.

3. What questions indicate my lawyer is thoroughly investigating my case?

Your lawyer should ask for detailed information to reconstruct the events around your arrest, seek out witnesses and evidence that support your innocence, and extensively review prosecution materials for flaws.

4. Should I be 100% truthful with my lawyer even about unflattering facts?

Absolutely. For your criminal defense lawyer to build the best defense, they need to know the complete truth about the incident and history surrounding the allegations. Nothing you disclose can be revealed without your permission.

5. Can I negotiate fees and payment plans if my lawyer’s rates are beyond my budget?

Yes. Most lawyers are willing to work with your financial situation. Make sure any fee agreement is clearly written out before officially hiring an attorney.

Selecting a Domestic Violence Lawyer in Utah 

Facing domestic violence charges can be daunting. Asking the right questions will empower you to tackle the legal process head-on. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will walk you through each stage, building the strongest defense. Don’t hold back on getting the facts, understanding the law, and finding the best legal advocate for your goals. With the right counsel and preparation, you can emerge from this challenge stronger.

 Gravis Law has a team of criminal defense attorneys that work diligently to ensure you receive the best legal outcomes. Call our team today at 385.213.2798 for your free consultation. 

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