Domestic crimes can carry significant consequences and are often high-stakes cases. When charged with a domestic crime, it’s often extremely complicated and emotional, but, getting domestic violence charges dismissed is a real possibility. If you are wondering how to beat a domestic violence charge, know that you have options.
What is Considered a Domestic Crime?
In Utah, domestic crimes aren’t clearly defined. There is no such crime directly specified as “domestic violence.” However, there are various crimes that can be considered domestic crimes under Utah law.
If a crime occurs in a residence or between persons who are related by blood or marriage, who are married, or who have children together, it can be considered a domestic crime. The most common types of domestic crimes include:
- Assault (within a domestic situation)
- Criminal mischief (within a domestic situation)
- Protective order violations
- Telephone harassment or electronic harassment
- Interruption of a communication device (within a domestic violence situation)
Once you have been charged with one of these crimes, there are several strategies for getting a domestic violence charge dismissed.
Strategies for Getting a Domestic Violence Charge Dismissed
If you are wondering how to get out of a domestic violence charge, there are two routes you can take. First, you can fight the charge in trial. Second, you can negotiate a plea in abeyance to the charges. Either way, you will want to hire an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer that can help you come up with the best possible approach to your defense.
Fighting a Domestic Violence Charge
If you choose to fight a domestic violence charge in trial, you must first understand the best strategies that will help you win. These strategies will be different for each specific case, and a defense lawyer can help determine what will work best for you. Some common strategies include:
- Character Highlights: Often, a domestic violence defense lawyer will prepare a comprehensive character packet on the defendants’ behalf. This packet will highlight the good character of the client, providing information to help persuade the judge or jury that the crime does not fit the past behavior patterns of the defendant, therefore they would not have committed the crime. An attorney will also showcase the lack of a serious criminal record or potential circumstances surrounding the incident.
- New Discovery: Another tactic used to beat a domestic violence charge is to find new discovery or challenge the prosecutor’s evidence. Using this strategy, a domestic violence defense lawyer would review the facts and documents presented by the prosecutor, attempting to find any evidence that challenges the provided information. You can also request exculpatory evidence from the prosecution. This is evidence that the prosecutor has that may prove your innocence. You are entitled to this evidence and can file a motion with the court requesting it.
- Find witnesses: To help cast doubt that a defendant committed a domestic violence crime, many skilled defense lawyers seek out any witnesses that can contradict the crime. Did anyone see or overhear a fight and can testify that the alleged crime never happened? Or even that the defendant was the victim not the perpetrator? A witness can testify in court, or provide a signed witness statement. You also have the option to subpoena a witness, commanding them to attend the trial and testify on your behalf.
- Present a Defense Theory: Depending on the specific case, instead of arguing that the state did not prove its case, a lawyer may want to argue that you were the victim of domestic violence, not the perpetrator. You can argue that any evidence of assault was actually self-defense.
Using some of these strategies, you may be able to win your case and get out of a domestic violence charge. If you choose to go to trial, you may be offered a public defender or another court-appointed lawyer. However, your best option to get a domestic violence charge dismissed is to hire an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer. These types of attorneys specialize in domestic violence defense and are committed to strategizing the best possible defense for your case.
Entering a Plea in Abeyance
The second option for getting a domestic violence charge dismissed is to enter a plea in abeyance. In Utah, a plea in abeyance is an order by the court that accepts a plea of guilty or no contest from the defendant, but does not enter a judgment of conviction or sentencing at that time. Instead, a plea of abeyance offers the defendant the option to comply with specific conditions set forth in the plea in abeyance agreement.
Conditions offered in a plea in abeyance agreement often include community service, anger management classes, or substance abuse counseling. If all of the conditions set in the agreement are met, then the domestic crime charges can be dismissed. Even if you believe yourself to be innocent of the crime, pleading guilty may be the best option to avoid getting a domestic violence conviction put on your record. A skilled domestic violence defense lawyer can help you decide if this is the best option for your case or not.
Hiring a Utah Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
So, know that if you have been charged with a domestic crime, there are options out there for you. Whether you decide to fight the charge in trial, or enter a plea in abeyance, the best option for getting the domestic violence charge dismissed is hiring a skilled domestic violence defense lawyer. A criminal defense lawyer will have previous experience with cases similar to yours and understand the best strategies for your defense.
If you have been charged with domestic violence, Schatz, Anderson & Associates has a team of experienced domestic violence defense lawyers to handle your case. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, know that your case is getting the best possible defense. Contact us today to see how we can help you.