What is Domestic Violence?
In Utah Domestic Violence is defined as any violence or physical harm or threat of violence or physical harm against a cohabitant. This means that a person can be charged for domestic violence against their roommate, although the normal scenario is a spouse or someone the person is related to. When the plain language of the statute is read it seems to be quite obvious what the legislature intended by violence or physical harm; however, in practice this definition is not so obvious. Utah’s criminal code sets forth a number of offenses that will suffice for violence or physical harm under the domestic violence statute, such as: assault, harassment, stalking, etc… Taking assault as an example, assault is defined as an act committed with unlawful force or violence that causes bodily injury. So a domestic violence charge could be against someone who touched their roommate in some way and caused some sort of injury, meaning that a push, shove, or the like that caused injury could be domestic violence. Furthermore, if the actions take place in the presence of a child the charges could be increased to a third degree felony. If you are facing these charges, it is important to speak with a Salt Lake City defense attorney as soon as possible.
Small Mistakes Could Make for Big Problems
When most people think of domestic violence they think of the alcoholic husband that is constantly beating his wife, but according to the statute as outlined above that’s not the only scenario of domestic violence. Utah’s criminal code can sometimes have results that aren’t always expected by the offenders. Because it is impossible to draft a perfect statute that always does exactly what the legislature wants the court sometimes has to deal with harsh results. For example a husband that has never been violent before losses his temper and pushes his wife, not meaning to cause harm but does. By statute he has committed domestic violence and if it was done before one of his kids he’s guilty of a third degree felony. The courts, however, strive to be understanding of situations and fair results and because of this it is important to have an attorney on your side. Although, you may have satisfied the basic requirements of a criminal offense you may not be the criminal that the legislature was trying to stop. If you have been charged with a crime call a Utah criminal defense attorney to help argue your case.