Utah Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic Violence Laws

According to Utah Code § 77-36-1, domestic violence occurs when a cohabitant engages in any criminal offenses—that involves violence, physical harm, the threat of violence or harm, or any attempt at, or conspiracy to commit a criminal offense involving the threat or act of violence or physical harm—against another cohabitant. Under this statute, domestic violence offenses include but are not limited to:

  • Aggravated assault (see § 76-5-103)
  • Aggravated cruelty to an animal committed with the intent to harass or threaten a cohabitant (see § 76-9-301(4))
  • Assault (see § 76-5-102)
  • Child abuse (see § 76-5-109.1)
  • Criminal homicide (see § 76-5-201)
  • Damaging or interfering with a communication device (see § 76-6-108)
  • Electronic communication harassment (see § 76-9-201)
  • Harassment (see § 76-5-106)
  • Illegal discharge of a firearm (see § 76-10-508)
  • Kidnapping, child kidnapping, or aggravated kidnapping (see § 76-5-301, 76-5-301.1, and 76-5-302)
  • Mayhem (see § 76-5-105)
  • Possession of a deadly weapon with criminal intent (see § 76-10-507)
  • Sexual battery (see § 76-9-702.1)
  • Stalking (see § 76-5-106.5)
  • Tampering with or retaliating against a witness or victim (see § 76-8-508 and § 76-8-508.3)
  • Threatening use of a dangerous weapon (see § 76-10-506)
  • Threatening violence (see § 76-5-107)
  • Unlawful distribution of a (real or counterfeit) intimate image (see § 76-5b-203 and § 76-5b-205)
  • Unlawful imprisonment and unlawful imprisonment of a minor (see § 76-5-304)
  • Violation of (final or ex-parte) protective order (see § 76-5-108)
  • Voyeurism (see § 76-9-702.7)
  • Any sexual offenses defined in Utah Code § 76-5b-201 and § 76-5-401 to § 76-5-416 (Sexual Offenses)
  • Any offenses against property outlined 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
  • Any offense outlined in § 78B-7-806(1)

Utah Code § 78B-7-102 defines a cohabitant as an emancipated person (see UT Code § 15-2-1) or a person who is 16 years or older who:

  • Is or has been married to the other party
  • Is or has lived with the other party
  • Is the biological parent of the other party’s unborn child
  • Has or had one or more children with the other party
  • Lives or lived in the same residence as the other party
  • Is or was in a consensual sexual relationship with the other party
  • Is related to the other party by blood or marriage (i.e. “parent, grandparent, sibling, or any other individual related to the individual by consanguinity or affinity to the second degree”)

Cohabitants in this statute do not cover the relationships:

  • of biological, adoptive, or step-parents to minors, or
  • between biological, adoptive, foster, or step-siblings under 18 years old.

Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction

The penalties for domestic violence offenses (i.e. jail time, fines, and/or probation) correlate with the specific crime allegedly committed. For instance, assault is a Class B misdemeanor. If you commit assault-domestic violence, you will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. The penalties for specific convictions are as follows:

  • Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500
  • Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 or compensatory service
  • Class C misdemeanors are punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $750 or compensatory service
  • First-degree felonies are punishable by 5 years to life imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • Second-degree felonies are punishable by 1-15 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000
  • Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000
  • Capital offenses are punishable by life in prison, life in prison without parole, or the death penalty

Under Utah Code § 76-3-301.7, compensatory service (also known as community service) involves completing unpaid work or service to compensate for criminal fines. Compensatory service workers are paid $10/hour and can work at:

  • a local or state government agency;
  • a non-profit organization recognized under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code; or
  • any entity or organization that has received approval from the court.

It is also important to note that repeat offenders receive stricter penalties (see Utah Code § 77-36-1.1). If a person has been convicted of a “qualifying domestic violence offense” within the last 5-10 years, their charges will be enhanced. For instance, a Class B misdemeanor offense would be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor, and a Class A misdemeanor charge would be enhanced to a third-degree felony. A qualifying domestic violence offense includes:

  • a domestic violence offense in Utah, or
  • an offense committed in any U.S. territory, state, or district that would qualify as domestic violence under Utah law.

Contact Nelson, Taylor & Associates

At Nelson, Taylor & Associates, our defense attorneys are equipped to defend clients charged with a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence offenses. We understand how convictions can impact your:

  • Right to carry/possess firearms
  • Right to vote or hold office
  • Freedoms (because of protective orders that possibly restrict where you can go)
  • Relationships with friends and family

Don’t face your charges alone; let our team fight alongside you in court. We can help you prepare for court and develop an individualized defense strategy for your case. Possible defenses include:

  • You have an alibi, which proves that you could not commit the crime because you were elsewhere during the date and/or time the crime occurred.
  • You have justification for how you responded, meaning you acted in defense of yourself, your property, or others.
  • Your arrest or the collection of evidence was illegal, meaning one or both of these procedures can be called into question and possibly deemed inadmissible.

To schedule your free consultation, contact our team today via our online contact page. You can also call us at (801) 901-7046.