What Should You Do If You Are Facing Domestic Violence Charges in Utah?
05 Oct 2023 /
What Should You Do If You Are Facing Domestic Violence Charges in Utah?
Are You Facing Domestic Violence Charges in Utah?
If you have been arrested for domestic violence in Utah, it is essential to understand the charges you are facing and take proactive steps to protect yourself. Being accused of domestic violence is a serious matter that can impact your freedom, family, career, and reputation. A conviction can result in jail time, fines, counseling, protective orders, and loss of gun ownership rights. It is critical to consult a domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible after an arrest. A skilled domestic violence attorney can advise and defend you throughout the legal process. This article provides an overview of domestic violence laws in Utah and guidance on steps to take if you face accusations.
Our attorneys at Gravis Law deliver optimal case outcomes for you with the utmost discretion and empathy. With years of experience, we have years of proven outcomes. Call us today at 385.707.0432 for your free consultation.
Understanding Domestic Violence Charges in Utah
Utah law defines domestic violence as any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm committed by one partner in a domestic relationship against the other partner. Domestic relationships include current and former spouses, individuals related by blood or marriage, those who reside or have resided together, and those with a child in common (Utah Code § 77-36-1).
Domestic violence charges can include:
Violation of a Protective Order
These charges can be filed as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances. Even a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction carries severe consequences.
How a Domestic Violence Lawyer Can Help Your Case
Retaining a domestic violence lawyer in Utah at the earliest opportunity is critical for mounting an effective defense. An experienced attorney will thoroughly examine the prosecution’s case and work to get charges reduced or dismissed. A skilled lawyer can assist with:
Investigating the Incident
Your attorney will gather police reports, witness statements, medical records, and other evidence to identify inconsistencies or exculpatory details.
Advising You of Your Rights
Do not speak to police without your lawyer present. Your attorney will ensure you avoid self-incrimination.
Negotiating with the Prosecutor
An attorney can negotiate dismissal of charges or plea bargains to lesser offenses to avoid harsh penalties.
Building Your Defense Strategy
A domestic violence lawyer will craft a defense highlighting weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and justifications for your actions.
Representing You in Court
Your attorney will advocate for you at hearings, file motions, cross-examine witnesses, and present your defense at trial.
Steps to Take After a Domestic Violence Arrest
Here are important steps to take if you are accused of domestic violence:
1. Remain Silent
Do not try to explain yourself to the police. Anything you say can be used against you. Politely invoke your right to remain silent and to have an attorney present.
2. Secure Your Release from Jail
If taken into custody, your attorney can petition for reduced bail or release on personal recognizance. Refuse to sign any statements or plea deals without counsel present.
3. Avoid Contact with the Alleged Victim
Do not attempt to speak with or approach the alleged victim, even with good intentions. This can be used against you and potentially lead to witness tampering or intimidation charges.
4. Seek Medical Attention if Needed
If injured during the alleged incident, get prompt medical treatment and documentation. Save any evidence like clothing, photos, or medical reports.
5. Retain a Skilled Domestic Violence Lawyer
Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can start building your defense, advising your rights, and protecting you from self-incrimination.
6. Follow Conditions of Your Release
If released, comply fully with any conditions set by the court, like staying away from the alleged victim’s home and workplace or avoiding drug and alcohol use. Violating the terms of your release will land you back in jail.
7. Participate Fully in Your Defense
Be honest and forthcoming with your attorney so they can best defend you. Attend all meetings and court appearances. Comply with your lawyer’s strategic guidance.
Common Defenses in Domestic Violence Cases
Skilled domestic violence lawyers know how to build strong defenses by undermining the prosecution’s version of events. Common defense tactics include:
If you acted in self-defense against violence initiated by the alleged victim, your attorney can argue you had a legal right to protect yourself from harm.
If evidence shows the accuser fabricated or exaggerated claims to gain leverage in a divorce or custody dispute, this can undermine their credibility.
If you were misidentified as the perpetrator, this provides grounds for dismissal.
Mental Health Issues
Your attorney can argue mental illness impacted your actions or the alleged victim’s perceptions.
Lack of Criminal Intent
If actions were accidental or there was no intent to harm, this negates criminal liability.
An experienced lawyer will pursue every avenue to build a compelling defense on your behalf.
Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
The penalties for domestic violence charges should not be underestimated. They can include:
Jail time – Domestic violence convictions often carry mandatory minimum sentences. Any physical harm can mean increased incarceration time.
Fines – Monetary penalties commonly range from $1000 to $10,000 depending on the severity of the offense.
Anger Management Programs – Many convictions require completion of court-ordered counseling.
Protective Orders – Restraining orders severely restrict contact with the victim for years. Violating an order can lead to further prosecution.
Loss of Gun Ownership – Those convicted of domestic violence lose the right to own firearms, which also impacts careers for police, military, and security professionals.
Child Custody Limitations – Convictions can be used to impose supervised visitation or denial of custody rights.
Immigration Consequences – Non-citizens charged with domestic violence may face deportation.
Employment Difficulties – Many professions preclude those with domestic violence convictions.
FAQs About Domestic Violence Charges in Utah
1. What if my partner does not want to press charges?
Once a domestic violence arrest occurs, the decision on whether to file charges rests with the prosecutor, not the alleged victim. They can pursue charges even if your partner says they do not want you prosecuted.
2. Can charges get dropped if I complete counseling sessions?
Completing anger management or counseling may persuade a prosecutor to reduce charges, but does not guarantee dismissal. Discuss options with your lawyer.
3. What if I have a clean record without any prior arrests?
While a clean record can help, domestic violence allegations often result in harsher charging decisions, even for first-time offenders. Do not rely on your past history to avoid prosecution.
4. Are domestic violence charges only for physical assaults?
No, charges can also stem from non-physical actions like verbal threats, stalking, harassment, and property destruction. Any act intended to coerce or control a partner can qualify as domestic violence.
5. What should I do at my first court appearance?
Simply enter a plea of not guilty. Do not try to explain the incident. Let your domestic violence lawyer do the talking and request continuation to allow time to prepare your defense.
Selecting the Correct Domestic Violence Attorney in Utah
Being accused of domestic violence in Utah merits very serious and prompt attention. The consequences can follow you for years. Immediately contact an experienced domestic violence attorney to protect your rights through the legal process.
With an aggressive defense and skilled negotiation, charges may be reduced or dropped entirely. Do not leave your future to chance. Consult our experience attorneys at Gravis Law by calling 385.707.0432 today.