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.

Strict Probation for Utah Sex Offenders

Sex offenders in Utah are required to abide by a strict probationary program until their name is removed from the sex offender registry.

Ten years to life

Photo by: West Midlands Police

Photo by: West Midlands Police

Regardless of the severity of the offense, those who make the registry of sex offenders can expect to stay on that list for at least ten years. The Utah Department of Corrections states that those persons who are convicted of the following crimes will be on the registry of sex offenders for ten years after they are done with their jail or prison time:

“1. Kidnapping
2. Voyeurism
3. Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor
4. Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a 16 or 17 Year Old
5. Forcible Sexual Abuse
6. Incest
7. Lewdness (4 convictions required for registration)
8. Sexual Battery (4 convictions required for registration)
9. Lewdness Involving a Child
10. Aggravated Human Trafficking
11. Custodial Sexual Relations (if victim was under 18 years of age)
12. Sexual Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult
13. Sexual abuse of a minor
14. Attempting, soliciting, or conspiring to commit any felony offense listed above (or in the “life” list below)”

Those found guilty of any crimes on this subsequent list, or those convicted more than once for any crimes on the above list, will be on the registry for sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

“1. Child Kidnapping
2. Aggravated Kidnapping
3. Enticing a Minor over the Internet
4. Rape
5. Rape of a Child
6. Object Rape
7. Object Rape of a Child
8. Forcible Sodomy
9. Sodomy on a Child
10. Sexual Abuse of a Child or Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child
11. Aggravated Sexual Assault
12. Sexual Exploitation of a Minor [child pornography]
13. Aggravated Exploitation of Prostitution”

According to this second list, after their sentencing is over, a person who was caught with child pornography is treated the same as someone convicted of rape of a child. While these two crimes seem hardly comparable to many, why does it matter if their name is registered? What does being on the sex offender registry entail?

More than a list of names

Photo by: micadew

Photo by: micadew

When someone is on the registry of sex offenders in Utah, not only is their name exposed for anyone looking through public records, they also have strict laws that they must follow as long as their name is on the registry, even for a lifetime. These laws include restricting:

Where they live. If sex offenders which to move, they must first get permission. This includes moving residences within the same city.
Where they work. Their choice of employment must also be approved by a parole officer.
Public places they frequent. Those convicted of offenses against minors may not be in any area where children meet. This can include: schools, parks, public pools, and even family get togethers.
Who they have contact with. The most obvious restriction regarding who sex offenders have contact with is the victims and their families. Additionally, those convicted of sexual offenses against children may not have contact with minors under the age of 18. This can include children of significant others.
Even how late at night they are allowed out in public. According to the UDC, when required, “[they] must enter into and successfully complete established progressive curfews, or electronic monitoring where available.”

Some of these restrictions can be altered slightly but only after a parole officer has given written permission.

Life changing

Being registered as a sex offender can dramatically change the way a person lives for the rest of their lives. Just as someone is on probation or parole, everything that sex offenders do and everywhere they go is restricted and documented. In fact, according to the UDC, “sex offenders are supervised even more closely and held to higher standards [than those facing probation and parole for other charges].” For those individuals who are facing charges of sexual offenses that could place them on the registry of sex offenders, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.