Domestic violence, in Utah and many other places, is a pervasive problem that we must all be aware of.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that 1 out of every 3 women in Utah is a victim. That’s higher than the national average of 1 victim out of every 4 women. What’s more, roughly 32 percent of all homicides in Utah are related to this criminal offense, with murders occurring every 33 days.
Every October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month brings attention to this issue, helping to protect and empower women across the country. In observance of this important event, we’re looking today at the Utah laws specific to this criminal offense.
More important, we will explore how victims can find the help they need.
Defining Domestic Violence under Utah Statute
Utah statute describes this criminal offense as physical harm, an attempt at physical harm or the threat of violence by one cohabitant against another. Physical assault, harassment, stalking, kidnapping, sexual assault and other abusive behaviors are all examples of this offense and subject to criminal punishment.
To count as an offense under Utah law, the crime must involve cohabitants aged 16 years or older. This includes spouses, former spouses and people who are or were living together. Cohabitants can also refer to two people who are related by blood or marriage, as well as unmarried couples who have children together.
How Does Utah Law Protect Domestic Violence Victims?
Victim protection is the primary goal of law enforcement in Utah. The legal code states that a police officer who has probable cause to believe that an act of violence has occurred must either arrest the perpetrator or issue a ticket.
What if the police officer believes that continued violence is likely? Or, what if the perpetrator caused serious physical injury or used a dangerous weapon in committing the criminal offense? In either situation, the officer is compelled under Utah law to arrest and take the perpetrator into custody.
A Utah victim can obtain a protective order to require the perpetrator to stay away and stop all contact. To obtain a protective order, a victim must file paperwork with the courts and appear in front of a judge to present his or her case.
How Can Victims Obtain Help in Utah?
In an emergency situation, victims should always call 911. Victims anywhere in the country can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or head to DomesticShelters.org to find a nearby emergency shelter.
For local help, the Utah Domestic Violence Link Line is open 24 hours per day, every day of the week — call 1-800-897-LINK (5465). Utah also has several programs offering assistance throughout the state. More information is available through the Utah Department of Human Services.
If you are a victim, having the support of an experienced family law attorney can be beneficial to resolving your case with the best possible outcome. The legal team at Burton Law Firm can help make sure you are protected under Utah law. Contact our Ogden, Utah, office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your domestic violence case.
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