Domestic violence is a big problem in Utah. About one in three people have experienced it. That includes both women and men. If you know 600 people — the assumed average according to research — you probably know 200 people who have been victims of domestic violence.
This is why legislators in Utah have worked to make sure police officers do their due diligence in protecting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.
If your partner acts violently toward you and you call 9-1-1, police will arrive as quickly as they can. When they arrive, they will assess the situation. If there is probable cause, they are required by Utah law to either arrest the perpetrator or issue a citation. How they decide to take action is dependent on the situation.
In some cases, police have to make an arrest. This includes when they have probable cause that the perpetrator will continue harming the victim, when they see evidence that the perpetrator “recently caused serious bodily injury,” and when a dangerous weapon was used.
If the officer does not arrest anyone, they have to write a detailed report in which they specify why they did not make an arrest. Police also have to tell the victim about the right to start a criminal proceeding and the importance of keeping evidence preserved if something happens.
According to Unified Police, if you want to leave an abusive relationship, it is important to make a plan beforehand. This includes packing a bag with a change of clothes, important documents, cash, keys, toiletries, and anything else you might need. You should keep all of this at a friend’s house. It’s also important to know where you will go if you need to leave your residence.
You might have the urge to clean up before police arrive, but UPD says to leave everything as is. It’s important to keep all the evidence intact so officers can look at it when they respond. Some of that evidence can include marks, bruises, and other evidence on your body. Leave blood and other bodily evidence as is until you are clear to remove it or tend to it.
Right now, SB 117 is awaiting Governor Spencer Cox’s signature. This bill would require Utah officers to administer an 11-point lethality assessment on the victim. If they say “yes” to four questions or more, police refer them to a victim service provider nearby. The provider will help connect them to services the victim might need, including shelter. The courts will also be able to consider using the assessment during pretrial processes.
In addition, the bill will set up a database of information from the lethality assessments, which can be accessed statewide. This makes it so officers have easy access to the data, even if an arrest was never made and if there were previous incidents outside their jurisdiction.
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you will need an attorney who can help you navigate the intricacies of the law. This is true whether or not you are innocent.
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