Domestic Violence Charges: If it’s just a misunderstanding, do I need an attorney?

Domestic violence laws

In Utah, a person accused of committing any crime against a “cohabitant” (Utah Code Section 78B-7-102) can be charged with a domestic violence offense. A cohabitant can be: 

  • A spouse
  • A person related by blood or marriage
  • A person you have one or more children with
  • Intimate partners (like a boyfriend or girlfriend)
  • Roommates

Because the definition of “cohabitant” is so broad, a person can be charged with a domestic violence offense even after a small misunderstanding with a roommate.

Domestic violence crimes

There are many types of domestic violence crimes in Utah, including misdemeanor and felony offenses. Some of the most common domestic violence crimes we see at Caldwell Law Group include: 

Protective orders

A person charged with a domestic violence crime might be served with a pretrial protective order (link: Utah Code Section 78B-7-803) at their first court appearance before a judge.  

If you are served with a pre-trial protective order, you could be prohibited from communicating with the alleged victim of the crime in any way, including in person, over the phone, or even text messaging. If you live with the alleged victim, you might not be allowed to return to your home. If you have children with the victim, you might be prohibited from even speaking with your kids. If you are charged with a domestic violence crime, it’s a good idea to contact a lawyer to make sure that your rights are protected. 


Many prosecutors aggressively pursue domestic violence cases and the consequences can be severe. In most cases, a person convicted of a domestic violence crime will be ordered by the judge to get a domestic violence evaluation and complete domestic violence treatment. Frequently, this means that a person will have to take months of domestic violence classes, and participate in group and individual therapy. 

In addition to these classes, a judge may order a person convicted of a domestic violence crime to pay fines, complete probation, serve jail time, or even go to prison. Probation may last anywhere from one to three years, meaning you could be required to report to a probation officer and take drug tests for up to three years.  

In some cases, a conviction for a domestic violence offense will make someone a “restricted person.” This means losing their constitutional right to possess a firearm or any weapon.  

A conviction will also appear on that person’s record, which means it could be hard to get a job, rent a house, or even travel. Domestic violence crimes carry severe penalties, even before a person is convicted. If you are charged with a domestic violence crime, speak with a lawyer and protect your rights. 

Our experience

At Caldwell Law Group, we have years of experience handling domestic violence cases. Attorneys Katie Filler and Steven Grayson are both former domestic violence prosecutors. They understand what prosecutors will be looking for when handling your case, and they know how to defend you and protect your rights.

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