Defense of Assault & Domestic Disputes
- Many crimes can be considered domestic violence crimes.
- DV conviction has many penalties as well as a negative public stigma.
- You can avoid a DV conviction by taking a case to trial or entering into a plea in abeyance agreement.
- Since DV doesn’t usually have other witnesses, the determining factor comes down to credibility of the parties.
- Anger management courses, substance abuse counselling, and/or community service may be required by the court.
- You can expunge DV convictions anywhere from 3 years to 7 years after probation.
You are probably familiar with the term “domestic violence.” Under Utah law (pursuant to Utah Code Ann. § 77-36-1), there is no such named crime. But there are many crimes that are considered domestic crimes because they occur either in a residence or between persons who are related by blood or marriage, married, cohabitating (including roommates), or have children together (see Utah Code Ann. § 78B-7-102). Domestic crimes carry significant consequences both direct and collateral, and these types of cases can get very complicated because of the high emotions and stakes involved. A few examples of the most common types of domestic crimes include:
- Assault (within a domestic violence situation)
- Criminal mischief (within a domestic violence situation)
- Protective order violations
- Telephone harassment or electronic harassment
- Interruption of a communication device (within a domestic violence situation)
Because domestic crimes can escalate and get very complicated quickly, you need a competent, experienced criminal defense attorney to get involved in the case as early as possible. We will begin gathering the evidence and helping to build your defense right away.
Effects of a Domestic Violence–Related Conviction
There is no way to get out of a domestic violence charge just because the alleged victim “drops the charges.” In Utah, the prosecutor’s office may still choose to prosecute the crime even if the alleged victim no longer wants to press a complaint.
- Anyone convicted of a crime of Domestic Violence loses the legal right to possess either a gun or ammunition of any kind, including hunting rifles and shotguns.
- If you are not a U.S. Citizen, a conviction for any Domestic Violence crime may prevent you from obtaining citizenship and may result in deportation (this includes misdemeanor crimes of Domestic Violence).
- There is also a public stigma attached to Domestic Violence crimes, and a conviction could interfere with your ability to obtain employment.
How to Avoid a Domestic Violence-Related Conviction
A Domestic Violence conviction can be avoided in two ways. The first way is to go to trial and fight the charge. Often times Domestic Violence offenses are simply overstated by the victim. At the time the offense allegedly occurs, emotions are high, and the parties may speak out of anger rather than fact. Many Domestic Violence charges stem from situations where tempers flare but no real crime has been committed. Officers who respond to Domestic Violence calls typically believe the story of whomever contacts the police first without hearing both sides of the story. One of the most important parts to defending a Domestic Violence case is to identify and interview any other witnesses to the incident other than the victim or the alleged suspect. This could be a friend, family member, or even a neighbor who overhears the argument through the apartment walls. However, in many cases, the only witnesses are the alleged victim and the defendant, and there is often little or no physical evidence of a crime. In these cases it is often a battle of credibility between the victim and the defendant. A victim with a history of repeatedly calling the police may be less credible. Each case is different, but by fully investigating the situations, the parties, and the available witnesses and evidence, many Domestic Violence–related crimes can be defended at trial.
Expunging a Domestic Violence Conviction
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor crime of Domestic Violence, you cannot apply to have the conviction expunged from your criminal record for at least three years after your probation has been terminated (probation for a misdemeanor Domestic Violence offense is typically 12 months from the date of sentencing). If you are convicted of a felony Domestic Violence crime, you cannot apply to have the conviction expunged from your criminal record for at least seven years after your probation has been terminated (probation for a felony Domestic Violence offense is typically 36 months from the date of sentencing).
Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers
At the Salt Lake City law firm of Schatz, Anderson & Associates, LLC, we focus exclusively on criminal defense. We provide defense services in both felony and misdemeanor cases in Salt Lake City and statewide, including the cities of Provo and Ogden. Our attorneys have more than 40 years’ combined legal experience, and we have built a reputation as ethical lawyers who are dedicated advocates on behalf of our clients.
Free One-Hour Initial Consultation
At Schatz, Anderson & Associates, LLC, the initial one-hour consultation is always private and always free of charge. Our attorneys make jail visits when necessary, and flexible appointment scheduling is available. We handle many cases on a flat-fee basis, so that our clients can know up front the exact cost of their defense. Call us!
Let's get started crafting your defense!
We have a fully staffed knowledgeable, experienced legal team ready to help you