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Domestic Violence Lawyer Salt Lake City UT
At Rasmussen & Miner, a domestic violence lawyer Salt Lake City UT residents trust does not take charges of domestic violence lightly. In fact, these types of cases can involve much more than charges and penalties. Assault, violation of an order of protection, child endangerment and other charges or issues can be added onto your case. To reduce the chances of an issue, such as the aforementioned, amplifying, you should understand some precautionary measures. Taking the right actions early can make a tremendous difference in the results of your case. The strength of your argument is dependent on a number of factors, but taking the appropriate steps to protect yourself is key. By doing so, you can ensure you set yourself up for the best possible outcome to your charges by speaking with a domestic violence lawyer from Rasmussen & Miner.
A domestic violence charge should always be taken seriously and should not be ignored. It can be difficult to figure out how to best handle such a charge brought against you. You may feel like you have limited options and there is only so much you can do once a charge has been determined. However, it is important to remember that a domestic violence lawyer can provide you the critical help you need to develop a defense. Consult with a lawyer right away so that they can get to work on your case.
If you were arrested for domestic violence, you may want to consult with a lawyer from our law firm. It is important that you seek legal help right away once you face any kind of criminal charge. The sooner you act, the better your chances of having the strongest defense. When you go to a lawyer, you can gain peace of mind that you don’t have to go through your dilemma alone. We have years of experience with criminal defense cases and we may be able to provide invaluable counsel on your case.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence occurs when a person physically harms or threatens to harm a cohabitant. Emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse can also be included in a domestic violence case. These different types of abuse can all be valid when a domestic violence incident is being investigated. Cohabitants may include spouses, romantic partners, people who have children together, and family members such as children. A credible threat of physical abuse or evidence is used as a basis for a domestic violence charge to be initiated. There must be probable cause for the police to arrest a person for domestic violence. For example, if the person who reported the domestic abuse has a black eye, the police may have probable cause to arrest the accused.
How to Identify and Escape Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a pervasive issue in the United States. Every year 10 million people experience violence and abuse at the hands of their partners. It’s impossible to tell who is an abuser before they start the abuse. When you met them, they may have been the kindest person. It’s not uncommon for abusers to appear as upstanding and well-liked individuals. In fact, 90% of abusers have no prior criminal record. If you or a loved one are a potential victim of domestic violence here are three important things to do:
1. Know the Warning Signs
It’s impossible to identify an abuser before they show their true colors, but you can know the signs to watch out for. Domestic abusers often show extreme jealousy over other relationships in your life, even familial relationships. They can be possessive over you, which makes them resentful towards anyone who takes your attention away from them.
This may lead to controlling your behaviors such as requiring check-ins or forcing you to cut off relationships with others. They may also find ways to blame their jealousy and subsequent anger on you, so you blame yourself for their actions. Remember that their behavior is nobody’s fault but their own to avoid falling into this trap.
2. Have an Escape Plan
If you have noticed the warning signs, start to plan an emergency escape for yourself and your children if you have them. Have a go-bag ready with clothes, money, and important documents in case you need to leave suddenly. If your partner keeps track of the finances, it is best to stash the money slowly over time so they don’t question a large, sudden withdrawal.
It’s also a good idea to establish a safe word to alert friends and family that you need help without arousing your abuser’s suspicion. This alerts them that you are about to leave and may require additional support, a place to stay and to reveal nothing to your abuser about your whereabouts.
3. Reach out for Help
There are several resources available to help you during this time in addition to your trusted list of friends and family. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers both a hotline and online support, and their website features a safety exit button so you can leave their webpage quickly if you need to. They even offer programs such as cosmetic surgery funding for victims of extreme violence.
Safehorizon is an organization that offers many programs such as child trauma response, community programs and relocation to shelters with undisclosed locations for your protection. They also offer 24/7 support via their website or the phone.
Lastly, reach out to a domestic violence lawyer in Salt Lake City, UT so they can advise you on how to start building a case against your abuser. They will support you throughout the entire legal process to take some stress from your shoulders and ensure that your abuser can never hurt you or your family again.
Deciding to leave and stop your abuser from hurting anyone anymore is scary, but it’s the best and bravest decision you’ve ever made. Remember you are not alone in this fight, with the support of your loved ones and legal team you can work towards better days together.
What Should I Do After The Incident?
Domestic violence incidents often result in some kind of case, whether that be criminal or civil. So you were arrested after an incident with another person, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of winning the case. Talk to a lawyer immediately to receive guidance about the right steps you should take to boost your defense. At Rasmussen & Miner, we suggest doing a few things right away to help protect your best interests:
Identify whether you have serious injuries.
If you were injured during the altercation with another person, take photographs or video of the injury as evidence. Photos are one of the strongest pieces of evidence in a domestic violence case. Take photos of your injury on the day of the incident, as well as in the days following it. Discoloration and other changes to your injury can develop, so these details should also be mentioned in your argument. This can be influential proof and is critical to use against the complaining person. If you inflicted harm against the complaining person and acted in self-defense, then your charge may be reduced or even dropped. This kind of evidence can also help build your defense if you were acting out of protection for your own well being. All of these factors will be considered in court, so it is crucial to present as much information and evidence as possible to bolster your defense in a domestic violence case.
Keep communication exchanges between you and the other person.
When you are in the midst of a domestic violence case, it is crucial that you are cautious and mindful about your communications. If you think that there are incriminating messages, you may be tempted to get rid of them. However, this may only harm your case. Do not delete emails, voice messages, text messages, or handwritten notes. You may be tempted to block this person on your social media and from your phone, so that you don’t receive their attempts to contact you. We may suggest not getting into further arguments with the other party, but by leaving a line of communication open, it can work in your favor later on. Depending on what they say, it can be used to support your side of the story in court. Don’t antagonize the other person, instigate conflicts or confront them about anything. Do not communicate with them at all at any time during your case. If there is a specific topic that you are concerned about, mention it to your lawyer and they can advise you on how to best approach it.
Be proactive and get a lawyer immediately.
Do not wait until after your first court date to see if you need a lawyer. You want to be proactive and hire experienced legal representation before the situation escalates. Domestic violence charges can be complex, and it can be challenging to put together the best defense strategies that will work for you. You may be tempted to approach the situation with a “wait-and-see”, but we advise against it. Delaying action is one of the biggest mistakes that clients involved in a domestic violence case can make. Because you may be at-risk for a domestic violence charge, it is crucial that you get assistance from the very start. Early action is necessary if you want to maximize your chances of getting the best results.
Talk with witnesses and get contact information.
If there were witnesses to the incident and you feel their perspective could benefit your side, then we encourage you to speak with them and pass on their contact details to us. We can ask questions to see if they should be part of your defense strategy. When vetting the witness for credibility, we will be considering the following:
- The witness’ demeanor
- The angle and clarity in which they saw the incident
- Whether they were intoxicated at the time
- What they did in response to the situation
- Their relationship to you and the other party
When Is Domestic Violence a Felony and When Is It a Misdemeanor?
Your experienced domestic violence lawyer knows that not all domestic violence charges are created equal. Some are treated as more minor offenses and some are treated as far more severe criminal offenses. It is important to understand the differences in the ways these charges are implemented for a number of reasons. First, misdemeanor domestic violence offenses are generally punished less severely than felony domestic violence offenses.
Second, because one category of offenses is treated more severely within the criminal justice system, that category of offenses generally leads to more long-term consequences “outside” the criminal justice system as well. A domestic violence lawyer at Rasmussen & Miner is here for you.
Domestic Violence Charges: The Basics
Domestic violence is a term used to describe any number of violent (and some non-violent) actions taken against another member of one’s family, household or romantic partnership. A spouse, unmarried significant other, child, roommate, parent, sibling or other individual meeting certain basic qualifications can be considered a victim of domestic violence.
If an individual is not a romantic partner, family member or member of one’s household, violence against that person can be treated as a misdemeanor or felony in another category of criminal offenses. If someone hits a fellow patron at a bar, for example, this would not be considered domestic violence but the offender would likely be charged with assault and battery.
It is also important to understand that some states consider certain forms of economic and emotional abuse to fall under the category of domestic violence. One does not always necessarily need to have been sexually and/or physically abused in order to be considered a victim of domestic violence.
Each state treats domestic violence offenses somewhat differently. An act that may be considered a misdemeanor offense in one state may be considered a felony in another. As a result, it is important to consult an experienced domestic violence lawyer if you have questions about how certain domestic violence behaviors may be categorized where you live. It is also possible that aggravating factors may elevate a misdemeanor offense to a felony, under certain circumstances.
For example, if an individual charged with a misdemeanor domestic violence is a repeat offender currently on probation, that offense may be elevated to a felony by prosecutors. In general, felonies are treated as more egregious as they carry potential terms of imprisonment greater than one year. Misdemeanor offenses may not be punishable by more than one year in prison (in addition to fines, community service requirements, etc.)
What are protective orders and no-contact orders?
These are the two most common court orders meant to protect alleged victims from alleged perpetrators of domestic violence. It is easy to get them confused, so we’ve provided a basic overview of each below.
Protective orders: If two people are in an ongoing conflict and one person fears violence or other harm, they can request a protective order. There doesn’t need to be any previous criminal history or police involvement to warrant a protective order.
If the person named in the protective order violates it, the alleged victim can call the police. And if a police officer determines that the order was violated, they are required to make an arrest.
No-contact orders: Unlike protective orders, no-contact orders can be issued by a court without a request from the alleged victim. Often, a court will issue the order after a criminal case has been initiated (often stemming from a domestic violence arrest).
These orders are very restrictive. If you were the subject of a no-contact order, you would likely be prohibited from having any contact with the alleged victim, either directly or through a third party. You’d also be prohibited from coming near the alleged victim, going to their residence or going anywhere they may be temporarily staying.
If you’ve been accused of violating either type of order, it is critical to seek the help of a Salt Lake City, UT Domestic Violence Lawyer like those at Rasmussen & Miner. We will help you understand the charges you are facing and what options are available to you under Utah law. We will then immediately start working to reduce, dismiss or defend you against the charges.
What happens if the alleged victim doesn’t want to press charges?
This is a common question for someone to ask a Salt Lake City, UT Domestic Violence Lawyer. Unfortunately, most people have been misinformed about what an alleged victim can and cannot to do influence the criminal process.
Once police get involved in a domestic violence case, it is very likely that criminal charges will be filed, regardless of the alleged victim’s stated wishes. In Utah and other states, prosecutors have realized that domestic violence victims are susceptible to being coerced into asking to have the charges dropped. Therefore, the decision is taken out of their hands.
If you’ve been arrested and charges are pending, don’t try to reason with the alleged victim. Contact the attorneys at Rasmussen & Miner instead.
What should I look for in an attorney?
Some criminal defense attorneys do not accept any domestic violence cases. So the first thing to do is to ensure that you are hiring an advertised Salt Lake City, UT Domestic Violence Lawyer. Beyond that, you should make sure that your attorney is thorough, knowledgeable, tenacious and ready to advocate for you at every step in the process.
These should be traits you can take for granted, but not all lawyers have them. Thankfully, when you contact Rasmussen & Miner, you can be sure our attorneys have all these qualities and more.
Criminal Defense Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about domestic violence charges, please consider speaking with an experienced domestic violence lawyer. Whether you have been accused of this offense or you are a victim seeking information about what might happen to your abuser if charges are brought, we can advise you after learning about the specifics of your situation.
Situations involving either domestic violence or unfounded accusations of domestic violence are highly charged in nature and leave all affected parties feeling vulnerable. Speaking with a domestic violence lawyer may provide much-needed clarity to the situation at hand.
What Are the Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction?
Domestic violence charges aren’t something to take lightly. At Rasmussen & Miner, we believe it’s important for individuals to have plenty of information regarding possible outcomes of their cases. Here are some of the consequences you may face with a domestic violence conviction:
- Prison or Jail: If you are convicted of domestic violence, you may face incarceration. This means time away from your job and your family. An experienced domestic violence lawyer may help you build a defense to avoid time in prison.
- Fewer Employment Opportunities: With a domestic violence conviction on your record, you may have fewer employment opportunities. Employers have the right to ask for an applicant’s criminal history before making a hiring decision. They may choose to avoid hiring someone who has a conviction for domestic violence.
- Limited Rights to Children: If you have children, a domestic violence conviction could limit your custody rights and visitation rights. A domestic violence lawyer may help you retain rights to your kids.
- Fewer Housing Options: Many landlords do background checks these days and may frown upon applicants with domestic violence convictions. A lawyer may help reduce or dismiss your charges so that you don’t have trouble finding housing in the future.
Do Not Violate Your No-Contact Order
If you were given a no-contact order by a judge, it is prudent you adhere to the terms. If you do not follow anything set forth in your restraining order or order of protection, you could face additional charges. Keep in mind, the protected party could try to contact you; they can do so – legally. However, an experienced domestic violence lawyer from the Salt Lake City, Utah area will advise that you should not respond to them, nor should you try to make any contact with them. Claiming this person contacted you first will likely not hold up as a defense against violating your order.
Do Not Represent Yourself
A judge is generally not going to give you special treatment because you are representing yourself. You will be expected to know the processes, laws, and any other applicable rules. You can also expect the prosecutor to take advantage of your potential lack of legal knowledge. If you choose to represent yourself, you may face greater penalties that could have been avoided had you had a lawyer on your side. It is recommended that you work with an experienced domestic violence lawyer.
Do Not Use a Third Party to Contact the Protected Party
If you have been given a no-contact order, you cannot contact the protected party in any way. This includes attempting to go through a third party to contact them. If you try this, it may be a violation and could result in further charges.
Do Document Any Injuries
If you were also injured in the domestic violence case, you should take photos of the injuries you sustained. You should also photograph torn clothing, broken items, or anything else that could aid in your defense. If you were injured, a domestic violence lawyer might argue reasonable self defense. It is possible that police ignored or disregarded your own injuries, especially if you are a male, were intoxicated, or are significantly larger than the protected person. Make the effort to document anything that could help your case.
Do Avoid Any Intoxicating Substances
Drugs and alcohol are common factors in domestic violence cases. You should avoid using them for the time being. You may also want to consider going to an alcohol or drug abuse meeting, such as AA or NA.
Do Safeguard Your Assets
If you have been charged with domestic violence, you may not be allowed to return to your home. A domestic violence lawyer can help you to protect your assets in the home as well as your financial assets such as bank accounts.
No matter what has happened, if you’re facing domestic violence charges, you should have a skilled legal advocate on your side. Call Rasmussen & Miner today to speak with a seasoned lawyer today.
Hiring an Experienced Domestic Violence Lawyer Today
If you are dealing with a domestic violence charge, don’t wait to contact a domestic violence lawyer. At Rasmussen & Miner, we understand how frustrating it is to be charged with domestic violence. We are here to protect the rights of our clients. We offer free initial consultations, so you don’t have anything to lose by just talking to a lawyer from our law firm. An initial consultation allows us to review each case in detail and determine possible defenses.
Our team has been practicing criminal defense litigation in Utah for over 20 years. We understand that cases involving domestic violence can be particularly tough for all parties involved. We’re dedicated to protecting the rights of Salt Lake City residents, even when cases become complicated.
What defense strategies are sometimes used in domestic violence cases?
At Rasmussen & Miner, our domestic violence lawyer represents those in the Utah community who have been accused of harming a loved one or a member of their household. If you were charged with domestic violence you may be concerned that a judge and jury will find you guilty despite the circumstances of what happened or didn’t happen.
The truth is that everyone is innocent until or unless convicted of the crime with which they are charged. This doctrine does not change for domestic violence cases, and you should exercise your lawful right to hire the best domestic violence lawyer who you can afford. Should you be convicted of this crime, even if you are not guilty, it can have a lifelong impact on your personal and professional life.
Common Defenses for Domestic Violence Charges
The defense strategy chosen by your domestic violence lawyer will be based on the circumstances of the event that you are accused of having been involved in. Here are several of the most common defenses used by those who were charged with the crime of domestic violence:
- Mistaken identity. Whether the accused knew that you were not their attacker, or if they mistakenly thought you were the perpetrator, your domestic violence lawyer may recommend that you plead not guilty because of mistaken identity. For this to be a successful defense strategy, it will be important to have a strong alibi. Your lawyer may call upon witnesses who were at the scene of the crime to testify that you were not the attacker. Your lawyer may also call upon witnesses who can vouch for the fact that you were somewhere else when the crime occurred.
- The “victim” is lying when they claim you harmed them. It’s an unfortunate fact that sometimes a person will make a false accusation against someone in order to cause that person legal problems or embarrassment. It’s possible that they did not mean their accusation to result in you being charged with a very serious crime but unless they are willing to recant their story, your lawyer will have to prove that you did not do the crime. There may be physical evidence or a lack of physical evidence that supports your version of what happened. Witnesses may be called in your defense, and character witnesses who can vouch for you may also be called upon by your lawyer.
- You were defending yourself from actions taken by the other individual. If someone attacks someone, the victim has the legal right to defend themselves to stop the threat in direct proportion to that threat. In a domestic violence context, that means that if the “victim” was hitting and punching you, and you stopped them from hitting you by hitting them back and knocking them out, your lawyer may recommend you enter a plea of not guilty by reason of self-defense. If your accuser has a record of committing violence against others, this can be used in your favor.
Please call Rasmussen & Miner toady to learn more.