Domestic Violence

Under the laws in Utah, the term "domestic violence" can be defined as a pattern of abusive or aggressive behavior in a relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic Violence can be abusive emotionally, sexually, or psychologically to the victim. From the prosecutor's perspective, domestic violence allegations also affect family members, friends, and co-workers.

When an officer with the Unified Police of Greater Salt Lake or another local law enforcement agency responds to a domestic violence call, the officer will make an arrest if there is probable cause to believe that:

  • the accused may continue to hurt the victim;
  • the accused has recently caused serious injury to the victim; or
  • the accused has violated a protective order.

In many of these cases, the officer makes an arrest based on mere allegations from one person that are unsupported by any physical evidence in the case. Domestic violence offenses can include hurting the victim, caused serious injury to the victim, or violating a protective order. In many of these cases, the officer will help the alleged victim obtain emergency housing, shelter and/or medical treatment if needed.

Lawyer for Domestic Violence in Salt Lake City, UT

If you have been arrested for a domestic violence offense in Salt Lake City, Utah, you need an experienced attorney to make sure your rights are protected. The attorneys here at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP are experienced in fighting charges of violence within a domestic relationship.

Call to talk to our attorneys about your pending case. Call (801) 532-5297 today.

Utah Domestic Violence Information Center

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Utah's Definition of a Domestic Violence Offense

The Utah State Legislature has enacted Title 77, Chapter 36, Section 1 of the Utah Code which defines a ”domestic violence offense" to mean any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm or threat of violence or physical harm, or any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit a criminal offense involving violence or physical harm, when committed by one cohabitant against another.

Under Utah Code sections 77–36–2.1 & 2.2, law enforcement officers who respond to an allegation of domestic violence are required to “use all reasonable means to protect the victim and prevent further violence.” Id. § 77–36–2.1(1).
When responding to a call involving domestic violence, the officer are further bound to “arrest without a warrant or ... issue a citation to any person” they have “probable cause to believe has committed an act of domestic violence.” Id. § 77–36–2.2(2)(a).

"Domestic violence offense" also means the commission or attempt to commit, any of the following offenses by one cohabitant against another:

  • violation of a protective order or ex parte protective order, as described in Section 76-5-108;
  • stalking, as described in Section 76-5-106.5;
  • electronic communication harassment, as described in Section 76-9-201;
  • harassment, as described in Section 76-5-106;
  • sexual offenses, as described in Title 76, Chapter 5, Part 4, Sexual Offenses,
  • assault, as described in Section 76-5-102;
  • aggravated assault, as described in Section 76-5-103;
  • Section 76-5b-201, Sexual Exploitation of a Minor;
  • any offense against property described in Title 76, Chapter 6, Part 1, Property Destruction, Title 76, Chapter 6, Part 2, Burglary and Criminal Trespass, or Title 76, Chapter 6, Part 3, Robbery;
  • unlawful detention or unlawful detention of a minor, as described in Section 76-5-304;
  • mayhem, as described in Section 76-5-105;
  • kidnapping, child kidnapping, or aggravated kidnapping, as described in Sections 76-5-301, 76-5-301.1, and 76-5-302;
  • child abuse as described in Section 76-5-109.1;
  • disorderly conduct, as defined in Section 76-9-102, if a conviction of disorderly conduct is the result of a plea agreement in which the defendant was originally charged with a domestic violence offense otherwise described in this Subsection (4). Conviction of disorderly conduct as a domestic violence offense, in the manner described in this Subsection (4)(o), does not constitute a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 921, and is exempt from the provisions of the Federal Firearms Act, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 921 et seq.; or
  • discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, near a highway, or in the direction of any person, building, or vehicle, as described in Section 76-10-508;
  • possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault, as described in Section 76-10-507; or 
  • criminal homicide, as described in Section 76-5-201.

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Allegations of Violence in a Domestic Relationship

After the arrest, the person accused of domestic violence must often sign a contract as part of the conditions of pre-trial release to do the following:

  1. have no contact with the alleged victim;
  2. not threaten or harass the alleged victim;
  3. not enter the alleged victim's residence or workplace.

A violation of the terms of pretrial release can result in a new crime and a violation of the pre-trial release conditions. The officers will also encourage the alleged victim to fill out a Protective Order Petition with the Third District Court (Matheson Courthouse - 450 South State Street).

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Consequences of an Allegation of Domestic Violation

Many people learn too late that domestic violence and protective order offenses are serious business. Many of these charges carry hidden consequences that can only be avoided with the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.

Failure to understand your rights can result in:

  • being designated as a "restricted person" and being precluded from ever possessing a firearm; 
  • having a former spouse use your conviction to achieve an advantage in a divorce or custody matter; or
  • facing a felony charge because the next domestic violence allegation is subject to enhancement and can be filed as a felony as a result of the prior domestic violence conviction or violation of protective order conviction.

Previous criminal convictions are used as mandatory charge enhancements as provided in Utah Code § 41-6a-503. Under Utah Code § 77-36-1.1, the law increases the offense for domestic violence if the defendant was convicted of a previous instance of domestic violence.

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Additional Resources

Domestic Violence in Salt Lake City - Visit the website of the Unified Police of Greater Salt Lake to learn more about domestic violence investigations. Find information on resources for victims of domestic violence including how to receive a referral for counseling, shelter and other services in Herriman, Riverton, Holladay, Kearns, Magna, Midvale, Millcreek, and Taylorsville. Also find information on Domestic Violence Advocates who provide information and referrals pertaining to victim's rights, support groups, translation service, counseling centers, and financial support. Victim advocates can attend court proceedings with alleged victims in a support capacity

Domestic Violence Statutes in Utah - For more information and definitions about domestic violence crimes in this state, visit the website of the Utah State Legislature.

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Domestic Violence Lawyers in Salt Lake City, UT

The Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP are experienced in defending men and women charged with domestic violence offenses. Contact Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP now if you have any questions about domestic violence charges.

Previous criminal convictions are used as mandatory charge enhancements. For example, under Utah Code § 77-36-1.1, increasing the level of offense for domestic violence if the defendant was convicted of a previous instance of domestic violence.

We can help you understand the charges, potential penalties, and possible defenses to the charges.

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