Domestic violence crimes conviction has far-reaching ramifications in life besides criminal punishment.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, nearly a third of homicide cases in Utah in 2016 had resulted from violence at the hands of a family member or cohabitant.
By legal definition, domestic violence is not a crime in and of itself. Instead, it is a tag or a label for a variety of crimes where some form of violence was committed against a person considered a cohabitant.
The Utah Cohabitant Abuse Procedure Act defines a cohabitant as anyone related to a person by blood or marriage, someone with whom a person lives with or have lived with, or someone whom a person has a child with.
Contrary to popular notion, domestic violence crimes does not need to happen in someone’s home. A crime can be labeled domestic violence crime even if it happened at a Walmart or any other public place.
What acts qualify as domestic violence crimes? First, some form of violence was committed, and second, that this violence happened between cohabitants.
In other words, it is the relationship of the parties involved in the crime that could label it as domestic violence crime, and not the place where it happened.
There could be a non-exhaustive list of domestic violence crimes.
For example, an assault may be charged as domestic violence crime. A push is technically considered an assault, and therefore can be labelled a domestic violence crime.
A few other examples of crimes that can be tagged as domestic violence crimes include:
- Criminal mischief
- Disorderly conduct
- Electronic communication harassment
- Aggravated assault
- A variety of sex crimes
What are consequences of a conviction for domestic violence crimes?
Being convicted of domestic violence crimes has far-reaching ramifications in life apart from criminal punishment. Consider the following:
Restriction of your gun right. Perhaps the most compelling of the consequences of conviction for domestic violence crime is that it will restrict your right to carry a gun.
The Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 bans the possession of firearms by individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or MCDV.
Misdemeanor crime of domestic violence is defined as having “as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.”
Name will be entered into several databases. When your name is entered into several databases, including that of the Utah Department of Professional Licensing (DOPL), then it will severely undermine your prospects for a job, especially sensitive jobs such social worker, school teacher, dentist, among others.
- Negative impact on capability to put an adoption. Being convicted with a domestic violence crime will also negatively affect your application for foster care or adoption.
- Jail time. To check for the details on jail times as consequence for domestic violence crimes, please refer to this link.
What can you do to defend yourself when accused of domestic violence crimes?
Utah criminal defense lawyer Thomas Weber says that the first defense against being accused of domestic violence crimes is to avoid the label at all times. “You should completely avoid the label. And, when accused of domestic violence crimes, you will need to engage an experienced lawyer who understands the intricacies and nuances of stripping that label from your name,” he said.
Weber explains that self defense is a common nature of defense for a domestic violence crime accusation.
Another possible defense if mutual combat, which means both parties engaged in domestic violence acts.Another nature of the defense is argues that there is no relationship between the two persons involved.
“The important thing is for us to negotiate the removal of the domestic violence tag,” Weber said.
What happens when a person has been charged with domestic violence crime?
“You may be taken to jail and the court may impose a pre-trial no contact order,” Weber said.
The no contact order prohibits you from contacting the alleged victim. “In some cases, this can be waived. But once it is imposed on you, you should not violate a no-contact order otherwise doing so will constitute a severe violation punishable by law,” Weber concludes.
This article is a first in a series of three articles covering the topic on domestic violence crimes.
Watch out for our next articles on :
- Domestic violence in the presence of a child– What is this crime?
- Defense against domestic violence crimes when there is positive relationship with alleged perpetrator