Most people view domestic violence as a crime committed by one spouse or live-in companion against another. While those are the individuals traditionally considered cohabitants, Utah law recognizes a number of other individuals as cohabitants, sometimes even if they have not lived together. You are also considered a cohabitant if you: are the biological parent of the other person’s unborn or living child, are related by blood or marriage, reside or resided in the same residence.
The current definition of cohabitants, as well as other Utah laws, has also expanded the manner in which a domestic violence crime may be committed. In addition to actually committing an offense involving violence or physical harm, a person may be found guilty of domestic violence if s/he attempts, threatens, conspires or solicits another to commit such an offense against a cohabitant. A person who commits or attempts to commit any of the statutory enumerated crimes against a cohabitant may also be found guilty of domestic violence. The crimes listed range from aggravated assault and sexual offenses to stalking and unlawful detention.
A conviction for domestic violence has serious consequences which may be enhanced by subsequent convictions or by your relation to the victim. If you are convicted within five years of a previous domestic violence conviction the degree and penalty for the crime may be increased. Utah law also provides for a lengthier term of imprisonment for certain criminal homicide or manslaughter cases where the person occupied a position of trust in relation to the alleged victim. A person is deemed to occupy a “position of trust” if s/he is a spouse, parent or cohabitant of the alleged victim. Further consideration needs to be given if an act of domestic violence is committed in the presence of a child because the person may be charged with additional crimes, such as child abuse.
As one can appreciate, a conviction for domestic violence in Utah requires serious attention and the expertise of a dedicated criminal defense attorney. Any delay or lack of knowledge of your rights and of legal procedures may jeopardize your case.
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Salt Lake City, St. George, or throughout Utah, contact the criminal defense law firm of David Paul White and Assoc. immediately at 801-266-4114 for your free initial consultation.