A Domestic Violence Conviction Carries Special Penalties
Domestic violence is not a separate crime. Instead it is a category or moniker that attaches to other types of charges when the crime is committed against a cohabitant. Basically, any crime involving violence or physical harm or threats of violence or physical harm will fall under the “domestic violence” category. This means that even the most simple of crimes such as a disorderly conduct infraction can be considered domestic violence.
Domestic violence is treated differently by the Utah Legislature – it’s treated much more harshly in the penalty face of a case. For example, when someone is convicted of a domestic violence offense they are automatically placed in an enhancement category which makes it so any subsequent DV charge within a five year period is increased one degree.
The court, as part of sentencing can issue a sentencing protective order prohibiting the defendant from having any contact with the victim for the duration of the defendant’s probation, which can be anywhere from six months to thirty-six months. The court can also order the defendant to be on an electronic monitoring system such as a GPS. Additionally, the court can order the defendant to reimburse the victim for any counseling fees incurred and reimburse DCFS for costs incurred. Finally, the court can order the defendant to undergo domestic violence counseling.
Probation for a Domestic Violence Conviction
The court, if contemplating putting the defendant on probation, can condition the probation on an order that includes any one of the following:
- enjoining the perpetrator from threatening to commit or committing acts of domestic violence against the victim or other family or household member;
- prohibiting the perpetrator from harassing, telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the victim, directly or indirectly;
- requiring the perpetrator to stay away from the victim’s residence, school, place of employment, and the premises of any of these, or a specified place frequented regularly by the victim or any designated family or household member;
- prohibiting the perpetrator from possessing or consuming alcohol or controlled substances;
- prohibiting the perpetrator from purchasing, using, or possessing a firearm or other specified weapon;
- directing the perpetrator to surrender any weapons the perpetrator owns or possesses;
- directing the perpetrator to participate in and complete, to the satisfaction of the court, a program of intervention for perpetrators, treatment for alcohol or substance abuse, or psychiatric or psychological treatment;
- directing the perpetrator to pay restitution to the victim; and
- imposing any other condition necessary to protect the victim and any other designated family or household member or to rehabilitate the perpetrator.
One or more of the above orders can be included in a sentencing protective order or simply as probation conditions and they can last for the duration of the defendant’s probation.