According to the Salt Lake Tribune, one in three women in the state of Utah will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, compared to one in four women nationally. Equally alarming, the number of domestic violence-related calls in the state has gone up significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Being charged with domestic violence in Utah can result in stiff criminal penalties but also collateral damages to your future. A conviction for domestic violence can cause you to lose your current job or keep you from obtaining a job.
Even if you are not convicted, domestic violence charges can result in loss of security clearances and social stigma in your community. To avoid these life-altering domestic violence consequences, it is in your best interest to speak to an experienced attorney from Conyers & Nix. We can thoroughly assess the facts surrounding your charges, then determine a way forward that will result in the fewest adverse consequences for you.
At Conyers & Nix, we are zealous advocates for every single client. We never judge our clients because we understand that we all make mistakes and that you are much more than your mistake. We help you understand that this experience will not last forever and that there will be a moment in your life when this will all be behind you. We will be straightforward with you and explain the best and worst-case scenarios of your case.
It is important to us that we answer all your questions as thoroughly as possible. Our clients tell us they feel better after meeting with us because we listen, empathize, answer questions truthfully, and are do not judge. When you choose the legal team of Kate Conyers and Jesse Nix, you are choosing exceptional representation that will best achieve your goals, effective advocacy, and meticulous case preparation.
What Types of Crimes Typically Lead to Domestic Violence Charges?
Domestic violence is described under Utah Code Section 77-36-1 as encompassing any criminal offense that involves physical harm or violence, or threat of physical harm or violence, when committed by one cohabitant against another. This “physical harm or violence” can include but is not limited to the following:
- Aggravated assault or assault
- Harassment or electronic harassment
- Sexual offenses
- Discharge of a firearm
- Threatening use of a firearm
- Sexual battery
- Child abuse
- Violation of a restraining order
What is a Cohabitant and What Does It Mean for a Domestic Violence Charge?
The term “cohabitant” has a fairly broad definition under the law. Essentially, a cohabitant is anyone who is 16 years old or older who currently lives with or has a relationship with the other party, or previously lived with or had a relationship with the other party. Under this definition, a family member, roommate, consensual sexual partner, or spouse qualifies as a cohabitant. Further, the parties do not need to be currently living together as long as they have lived together in the past. The term cohabitant does not apply to relationships in which one individual is a minor.
Is Domestic Violence a Felony or a Misdemeanor?
Whether domestic violence is a felony or misdemeanor will depend on the underlying offense. Because assault is a Class B misdemeanor, a domestic violence assault is also a Class B misdemeanor. Stalking can be a Class A misdemeanor or a second or third-degree felony, depending on the facts of the crime and the underlying circumstances. Contacting a victim in violation of a jail release agreement can be a misdemeanor or a felony.
If you were originally arrested for a domestic violence misdemeanor, then violating the judge’s order to not contact the victim is a Class A misdemeanor. There are also enhanced penalties for multiple domestic violence offenses. A person who was convicted of a domestic violence offense within the past five years and then convicted of another domestic violence crime (including violating a restraining order) will have their conviction enhanced. For example, a Class C misdemeanor will be enhanced to a Class B misdemeanor, a Class B misdemeanor will be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor, and a Class A misdemeanor will be enhanced to a third-degree felony.
What are Domestic Violence Penalties and Consequences in Utah?
The underlying domestic violence crime will determine the penalties you will face.
- Class C misdemeanor convictions can result in up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $750.
- Class B misdemeanor convictions can result in up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $1,000.
- Class A misdemeanor convictions can result in up to 364 days in jail and fines up to $2,500.
- Third-degree felony convictions can result in up to 5 years in prison, with fines as large as $5,000.
- Second-degree felony convictions can result in up to 15 years in prison, with fines as large as $10,000.
- First-degree felony can result in life in prison, with fines as large as $10,000.
What Happens After Charges of Domestic Violence?
After you are arrested under Utah’s domestic violence laws, you may spend some time in jail. You will be booked at the police station, photographed and fingerprinted, then you will be kept in a holding cell or at the local jail until your bail hearing—usually within 72 hours. This hearing will determine whether you will be released on your own recognizance, will have bail set, or will be denied bail. Denial of bail is usually reserved for the most serious charges. There may be a protective order put into place that prohibits you from contacting the alleged victim until after your first court date. You should have an attorney on board as quickly as possible to safeguard your future to the extent possible.
How Conyers & Nix Can Help
As you can see, domestic violence penalties and domestic violence consequences are harsh. The most beneficial thing you can do at this time is to contact the highly-skilled legal team at Conyers & Nix. At Conyers & Nix, we represent our clients holistically, meaning we will help them with other aspects of their lives that are impacted by the criminal charges. We are wholly dedicated to helping you through this difficult time with the very best outcome. Contact Conyers & Nix today for a comprehensive evaluation of your domestic violence charges.