Domestic Violence Attorney in Salt Lake County, Utah
Decades of Domestic Violence Case Expertise
The law that defines Domestic Violence in Utah is very broad, based on the definition of “cohabitant”. While most Domestic Assault cases arise between a boyfriend and girlfriend or a husband and wife, sometimes referred to as domestic partners, the word “cohabitant”, under the definition of domestic violence law, includes parents and children, siblings, i.e. brother and sister, and can even include roommates. Charges of assault, harassment, electronic communication harassment, sexual offenses, stalking, unlawful detention, trespassing, disorderly conduct, the commission of domestic violence in the presents of a child, and damage to a communication device can also be charged as a Domestic violence offense when committed by one cohabitant against another.
Domestic violence is a serious charge in Utah and is enhanceable. Meaning that if you're convicted of domestic violence once, a second charge in a 10 year period can be enhanced by one degree. Or if the first domestic violence conviction was for Criminal Mischief, a second domestic violence conviction within 5 years can be enhanced by one degree. A first domestic violence charge can be charged as a felony, depending on the severity of the injuries inflicted on the alleged victim. And a domestic violence conviction can also cause you to be prohibited from possessing a firearm.
One of the most valuable safeguards in our criminal justice system is the right of the accused to confront the witnesses against him in court. Although each case is unique and no two cases are ever exactly the same, one of the biggest hurdles that prosecutors can sometimes face is trying to get witnesses to appear in court. Generally speaking, the more time that goes by, the harder it is for a prosecutor to locate his or her witnesses, and the harder it is for the witness to recall or to remember exactly what happened. Sometimes cases can be overcharged, or the state may for some other reason be unable to prove the elements of the crime that you’ve been accused of.
You might also have a claim of self-defense, or have an argument that your actions were otherwise justified. For example, if you were defending your home or defending a third person from being harmed then you might have been legally justified in using reasonable force. Mistaken identity can also be a possible defense. If the alleged victim threatened you or has a previous history of making threats against you or another person, these factors might also be able to be taken into account in establishing a defense of justification.
However, in any and all cases, the prosecutor has the heavy burden of proving each of the elements of the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
Always remember, a jury, a jury alone, and only a jury can say that you're guilty, if you chose to exercise your right to a trial by Jury.
In Utah, as in all states, domestic violence is taken seriously. Convictions can lead to severe consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and a permanent criminal record. If you are facing domestic violence charges, it's essential to understand your rights, the legal process, and the possible defenses that may be available to you. We will offer a general overview, but remember that each case is unique, and it's critical to consult with an experienced attorney for advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
Understand Domestic Violence Laws in Utah
Under Utah law, domestic violence is broadly defined to include any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm, or threat of violence or physical harm, committed by one cohabitant against another. 'Cohabitant' refers to spouses, former spouses, individuals who reside or have resided in the same residence, or those related by blood or marriage.
Examples of domestic violence offenses include assault, harassment, stalking, sexual abuse, and damaging property. It's essential to note that domestic violence offenses can result in either misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the severity of the act and the circumstances involved.
Know Your Rights
If you are accused of domestic violence, you have several crucial rights:
Right to Remain Silent: You are not obligated to make any statement to law enforcement without an attorney present. Anything you say can and likely will be used against you.
Right to an Attorney: You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have one present during questioning.
Right to a Fair Trial: You have the right to a trial by jury, during which the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Several potential defenses may apply, depending on the facts of your case:
Self-Defense: If you were acting in self-defense or defending another person, this may be a viable defense. However, the force used must be proportional to the threat faced.
False Accusation: False accusations can occur for various reasons, including custody disputes or out of anger or revenge. If you can demonstrate that the accuser has a motive to lie or that their accusations are inconsistent or implausible, you might be able to establish your innocence.
Insufficient Evidence: The prosecution must prove every element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the evidence is weak or flawed, your attorney may be able to argue for a dismissal or acquittal.
Violation of Constitutional Rights: If your rights were violated during the investigation or arrest – for example, if there was an unlawful search and seizure, or if you were not properly advised of your rights – any evidence obtained as a result may be excluded from the case.
Hire a Defense Attorney
Facing domestic violence charges can be stressful and overwhelming. An experienced criminal defense attorney can guide you through the complex legal process, protect your rights, and help you mount the best possible defense. They can negotiate with prosecutors, challenge the prosecution's evidence, and represent you in court.
A domestic violence charge is a serious matter. If you find yourself facing such charges in Utah, it's critical to understand your rights and seek legal counsel as soon as possible. With a solid defense strategy, you can fight for your innocence and work towards a fair resolution of your case. Remember, the information in this article is merely a guide, and legal advice should always be sought from a qualified professional who understands the nuances of your situation.
To add a reputable criminal defense attorney to your support team, contact Dave Clark Law Office today for a free consultation.