Domestic Violence (dv) is a hot topic in today’s world, however its not always exactly what people think it is. As with most criminal offenses the reality of what is on the books and what people believe it means are very different. The most common misconception about domestic violence is that it is actually not its own separate criminal offense. Usually when people say they were charged with domestic violence they are talking about the charge of domestic violence in the presence of a child. This charge is a piggy-back charge the requires another criminal charge that it goes with. So the question still remains, “how does domestic violence work in Utah?”
In Utah, the legislature has created a dv tag that can be attached to other criminal offenses. The easiest way to understand this is with an example. The most common dv related offense is an assault. So lets say an individual hits another person, that would be an assault. Now if an individual hits another person, that is a cohabitant then that would be an assault, dv related. So the charge is still assault, but the court makes a special note that it is a dv offense. At that time if there are children in the house when it happens the individual could also be charged with dv in the presence of a child. The legislature has created a list of offenses that dv can be attached to.
Now the question may still be looming for you. “Why do I care if there is a DV tag on my case?” There are three main reasons why a dv charge could be important.
First: DV convictions could possibly effect your federal gun rights. Background checks often flag the dv tag of a dv conviction when purchasing firearms.
Second: Domestic violence convictions are enhanceable. What this means is that the next time you get charged with a dv offense the prosecutor can increase your charge. So for example if your offense would normally be a class B misdemeanor then it may be increased to a class A misdemeanor.
Third: Domestic violence will show up on your criminal history if you are convicted. This can sometimes cause problems with job or rental applications. Its impossible to know exactly how this may effect you because it depends on the individual employer etc. However, domestic violence is one of the phrases that concerns most lay people.