Multiple Felony Charges of Domestic Violence in the Presence of a Child

A Payson Utah man is facing multiple felony charges of domestic violence in the presence of a child following an assault on a woman in front on her children.

911 hang-up call

Photo by: Philippe Put

Photo by: Philippe Put

Police were dispatched to a Payson Utah home after a 911 hang-up call. The emergency dispatcher who received the call stated that although it was brief, they could hear a distraught woman screaming and shouting in the background. When police arrived, one of the children opened the door and officers found their mother bruised and bleeding from a large laceration to her head.

Wrong use of a kitchen utensil

36 year old Aaron Garcia, a former mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter was arrested for charges including aggravated assault after the woman stated Garcia hit her on the head with a wooden rolling pin. Garcia had been drinking heavily prior to the assault and was unable to recall details of what prevailed that evening besides that he was getting cross with the woman throughout the day. After searching the home, a wooden rolling pin was located, bloody and broken. Garcia is facing five third degree felonies following the assault at the Payson home, each with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine.

Domestic violence

Photo by: Nari Sin

Photo by: Nari Sin

One of the charges against Garcia is for the aggravated assault on the woman which is also considered domestic violence, although an additional charge for that specifically was not issued. Domestic violence is thought to take place between spouses; however it can be any violent behavior between multiple occupants of the same living environment. It was not reported what relationship Garcia had to the woman he assaulted. All that is known at this time is that Garcia and the woman were both residents of the same address. There is a possibility that Garcia was the woman’s spouse, yet he could have also been a live in boyfriend or just a roommate.

Domestic violence in the presence of a child

Although Garcia wasn’t charged with domestic violence for his assault on his cohabitant, his other four third degree felonies came from charges of domestic violence in the presence of a child because there were children present during the attack. Utah Code 76-5-109.1 states “A person commits domestic violence in the presence of a child if the person: ( . . . ) intentionally causes serious bodily injury to a cohabitant or uses a dangerous weapon [like a rolling pin] or other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury against a cohabitant in the presence of a child.”

One charge per child present

Domestic violence in the presence of a child

Photo by: Natesh Ramasamy

Although there was only one assault in question, Garcia is facing four charges of domestic violence in the presence of a child likely due the fact that there were four children home when the violence took place. Utah Code 76-5-109.1(5) explains when a person violates the above section “when more than one child is present [they are] guilty of one offense of domestic violence in the presence of a child regarding each child present when the violation occurred.”

Consecutive vs concurrent

When someone is charged with a crime, they may not seek legal counsel if they assume the prosecution has a rock solid case. However, there are other important reasons to be represented by an attorney. When someone is facing multiple offenses, if they are found guilty the judge can decide whether the sentences are to be run consecutively or concurrently. Consecutive sentences are served one after another; in Garcia’s case that would equal up to 25 years in prison. Concurrent sentences are all served at the same time; for Garcia, that would mean no more than five years for all charges combined. If anyone is facing charges for multiple offenses, speak with an attorney to find out options for defending the charges or at least reducing the prison terms.

Assault on a Pregnant Woman

A Spanish Fork man was arrested last week for charges related to assault on a pregnant woman after he sexually and physically assaulted a woman and locked her in the basement.

Physical and sexual assault

Photo by: Teresa Rodríguez

Photo by: Teresa Rodríguez

32 year old Jeff Jackson was arrested December 31st 2015 after the pregnant woman he assaulted contacted police after escaping from the basement in which she was temporarily being held captive. The victim had signs of physical abuse such as bite indentations and bruising along with other nondisclosed injuries. The abuse also took place in front of the victim’s minor children. Jackson is facing sexual offenses along with aggravated assault.

Taking food from a pregnant woman

Photo by: KittyKaht

Photo by: KittyKaht

Another case of assault on a pregnant woman happened in Salt Lake City earlier last month. An intoxicated man stumbling around in the parking lot of 7-11 approached an obviously pregnant woman leaving the convenient store and stole her pizza that she had just purchased. Stealing pizza from a pregnant woman is illegal (not to mention dangerous), and the intoxicated pizza thief made his charges worse by striking the pregnant woman in the face afterward.

Assault on a pregnant woman

Photo by: daniel julià lundgren

Photo by: daniel julià lundgren

Assault on a pregnant woman carries higher penalties as the stress of the assault could lead to health complications such as premature labor. According to Utah Code 76-5-102, simple assault is class B misdemeanor. This is unless there is “substantial bodily injury” or in a case of assault on a pregnant woman, in which it therefore becomes a class A misdemeanor. The charges are only increased however if it known that the woman is pregnant. Until a woman is further along in her pregnancy, it is often difficult to tell that she is with child without asking (which is strongly discouraged). For those facing assault on a pregnant woman when it was unknown that the other party was pregnant, contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss how to proceed.

Domestic Violence in Utah

Domestic violence is a serious problem worldwide, and Utah is by far no exception.

Wife and her dog

One of the several cases of domestic violence this month in Utah left a woman with facial wounds, a dog in surgery, and a man in jail. Earlier this month, a 40 year old Santaquin Utah man was arrested for multiple charges when he was involved in a fight with a woman at their home. After hitting the woman in the head in front of her children, he then stabbed her service dog- nearly killing it. While it is unknown what sparked the argument that ended with physical aggression, domestic violence rarely needs a rational reason.

Legal definition

Photo by: West Midlands Police

Photo by: West Midlands Police

Utah Code 77-36-1 identifies domestic violence as “any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm or threat of violence or physical harm, or any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit a criminal offense involving violence or physical harm, when committed by one cohabitant against another.” 77-36-1 also states that it can . . . include “commission or attempt to commit, any of the following offenses by one cohabitant against another:

(a) aggravated assault . . .
(b) assault . . .
(c) criminal homicide . . .
(d) harassment . . .
(e) electronic communication harassment . . .
(f) kidnapping . . .
(g) mayhem . . .
(h) sexual offenses . . .
(i) stalking . . .
(j) unlawful detention . . .
(k) violation of a protective order . . .
(l) [some] offense[s] against property . . .
(m) Possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault . . .
(n) Discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, near a highway, or in the direction of any person, building, or vehicle . . .
(o) Disorderly conduct . . .
(p) Child abuse . . . “

Penalties  for charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the offense in question.

More than assault

Domestic violence is typically seen as a physical assault on a person, usually a spouse. What is unknown to many however is that it can also be delivered as mental and emotional abuse. The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition states: “Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”

Not just between couples

Domestic violence takes place frequently between couples but it can also occur with children, elderly family members, and even roommates with no blood relationship. As long as the victim and the assailant are cohabitants, then domestic violence charges can occur from any violent or threatening episode between the two parties.

Domestic violence away from home

Although the most common setting, domestic violence doesn’t always take place at a residential building such as a home or apartment. It can be any harm done to someone by a person they live with, regardless of where they are when the attack takes place. A spouse that starts a fight with their significant other at work, or a parent that slaps their child around in front of the school are both cases in which domestic violence charges could ensue.

Statistics & penalties

Compiling statistics of domestic violence cases in Utah is difficult, as many of them go unreported. The reports that are compiled base their information on injuries and deaths of women at the hands of men. While there are many women who are the victims of domestic violence, it isn’t uncommon to see the man as the one being hurt. These new findings can create a lot of confusion for officer who respond to domestic violence calls. All too often “who is at fault” is not completely clear to police upon arrival. This can lead to false or misguided charges against a person. For anyone facing charges of domestic violence, whether the charges are justified or not, speak with an attorney immediately.