Utah’s primary domestic violence statute is called the “Cohabitant Abuse Procedures Act” and is found at Utah Code 77-36-1.
Utah Code 77-36-4 lists around 30 different types of crimes when committed against certain intimate partners qualify as a crime of domestic violence.
(1). Assault & Battery. (2). All sex crimes listed in Title 76. (3). Stalking. (4). Child Abuse. (5). Electronic Communication Harassment. (6). Violations of Jail Release or Protective Orders. (7). Unlawful Detention and many, many more.
The key is that the alleged victim must be a defined cohabitant under Utah law for it to be a crime of domestic violence.
What is considered a crime of domestic violence is set at 77-36-1 and has two parts:
First it must be a listed offense in The Cohabitant Abuse Procedures Act, and
Second it must involve a victim who is a defined cohabitant.
“Cohabitant” for purposes of Utah’s domestic violence crimes turns to Utah Code 78B-7-102(5)(a) for the definition as follows:
“Cohabitant” means an emancipated individual under Section 15-2-1 or an individual who is 16 years old or older who:
(i) Spouse. is or was a spouse of the other party;
(ii) Common Law Spouse. is or was living as if a spouse of the other party;
(iii) Relatives. is related by blood or marriage to the other party as the individual’s parent, grandparent, sibling, or any other individual related to the individual by consanguinity or affinity to the second degree;
(iv) Have Kids in Common. has or had one or more children in common with the other party;
(v) You’re the Parent/Unborn. is the biological parent of the other party’s unborn child;
(vi) Lives in Same House. resides or has resided in the same residence as the other party; or
(vii) In Sexual Relationship. is or was in a consensual sexual relationship with the other party.
“Cohabitant” does not include:
(i) Not a Kids or Step-Kid. the relationship of natural parent, adoptive parent, or step-parent to a minor; or
(ii) Not Siblings Under 18. the relationship between natural, adoptive, step, or foster siblings who are under 18 years old.
Many prior domestic violence convictions are ehanceable offenses under Utah law. Meaning if you had a prior DV conviction within the applicable look back window, any new charges can be enhanced to higher charges. Utah’s domestic violence enhancement statute is found at 77-36-1.1.
Utah enhancement scheme is found at 77-36-1.1(2),(3) and (4) and all work in the same way.
Your current domestic violence charge is upped one grade if you had a prior qualifying domestic violence conviction within the applicable look back period.
Example: Class B Domestic Violence Misdemeanor. You are charged with domestic violence criminal mischief, a Class C misdemeanor. Because you had a prior conviction within 10 years of any other qualifying domestic violence conviction, or within 5 years of a prior criminal mischief conviction, your current charges are enhanced to a Class B Misdemeanor.
Example: Class A Domestic Violence Misdemeanor. You are charged with domestic violence Assault, normally a Class B Misdemeanor. Because you had a prior DV conviction within 10 years your current charges are now enhanced to a Class A Misdemeanor.
Example Felony 3 Domestic Violence Charges. You are charged with domestic violence Assault against a pregnant woman. Normally a Class A Misdemeanor. Because you had a prior DV conviction within 10 years, the charge is now a felony 3.
Example Felony Domestic Violence 2 Priors. If you have 2 prior convictions within 10 years a Class B is charged as a felony 3.
A successfully completed plea in abeyances that was dismissed still counts towards enhancements in Utah. Often an expunged domestic violence conviction or successfully completed PIA are not visible to charging prosecutors.
PIA Example. Your prior domestic violence charged was fully dismissed pursuant to a deferred adjudication plea in abeyance program. You complete all terms of the abeyance period and the conviction never enters against you. This prior dismissed plea in abeyance is still counted against you during the enhancement period.
Juveniles have adjudications. Adults have convictions. They are different. Prior juvenile domestic violence charges or adjudications don’t count as prior convictions for enhancement purposes in Utah domestic violence law. See Utah Code 77-36-1.1(1)(a)(iii). It doesn’t matter if you plead “No Contest” either.
Utah crimes of domestic violence can be Infractions, Misdemeanors C, B, As and Felonies.
Infractions. Don’t carry jail time. $750 max fine. Court probation.
Class C. Up to 90 days in the county jail. Prison is impossible. $750 max fine. Court probation.
Commonly criminal mischief, or attempted assault.
Class B. Up to 6 months in the county jail. Prison is impossible. $1,000 max fine. Court probation.
Commonly assault, domestic violence in the presence of children, electronic communication harassment and unlawful detention charges.
Class A. Up to 364 days in the county jail. Prison is impossible. $2,500 max fine.
Commonly assault causing serious bodily injury or assault upon a pregnant woman.
Felony 3. Up to 5 years in prison. Jail, or probation. $5,000 max fine.
Commonly enhanced Class A domestic violence crimes or aggravated assault where choking is alleged.
Felony 2. Up to 15 years in prison. Jail, or probation when specifically no prohibited by law.
Military Personnel. Any domestic violence conviction will remove you from the armed forces under the federal Lautenberg Amendment. See 18 USC 922. Your ability to carry a firearm is prohibited after a domestic violence conviction.
Police Law Enforcement. Any domestic violence conviction, you will lose your job.
Security Clearances. All United States commissioned officers in the military must have a security clearance. Domestic violence convictions affect your career, promotion and security clearance. See ALARACK 188-2014 for the details on suitability evaluations for positions of trust.
Criminal Protective Orders. When criminal domestic violence charges are filed, nearly every time the prosecutor will ask for a pre-trial protective order not allowing you contact with the complaining witness, but you can’t have firearms either.
Utah Criminal protective orders have 4 types: (1). Jail Release Protective Order that must be signed to be released from jail on a domestic violence offense. (2). A pretrial protective order issued generally at the first arraignment. (3). Probationary sentencing protective order that runs while the case is open. (4). A continuous protective order that continues after the case is closed. You can’t get an expungement if there is a continuous protective order in place.
Firearms Restricted Person. Most domestic violence convictions will make you a firearms restricted person, Category I, or Category II. See Utah Code 76-10-503 for exactly who is a restricted firearms person under Utah law.
Domestic violence convictions are expungeable offense, so long as you otherwise qualify for an expungement. Felony domestic violence convictions are considered “violent felonies” are not expungeable.
The waiting periods for Class C and Infractions is 3 years after the case closes successfully.
The waiting period for Class B is 4 years after the case closes successfully. DUIs have a 10 year waiting period.
The waiting period for Class A is 5 years after the case closes successfully.
The waiting period for felonies is generally 7 years. Noting including DUIs are violent felonies.
Victim Objection. Expungements for domestic violence crimes are much more likely to have objections than objections for victimless crimes such as drugs or alcohol. Hiring an experience advocate to handle your contested expungement is critical.