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Utah Domestic Abuse Law and How to Get Help for Domestic Abuse in Utah

Domestic violence or abuse is generally understood as intimidating and/or violent behavior by means of which the abuser seeks to exert power and control over his victim. The abuse can take many forms, and the gravity and rate of occurrence need not follow a consistent pattern.

Under Utah law, domestic abuse has been defined to mean any action or behavior that causes harm or involves violence, or the threat of harm or violence against a cohabitant. Harm includes not only physical abuse but also extends to sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse. Any attempts by a person to commit, solicit or conspire to commit such harm or violence is also considered to be an act of domestic violence.

Who is a Cohabitant?

The term ‘cohabitant’ as laid down under Utah Domestic Abuse Law is wide-ranging and covers the following persons:

  • spouses including former spouses
  • people who are or were living together as spouses
  • a person who has or had children with the domestic abuser or is the parent of the abuser’s unborn child
  • any person who is related to the abuser either by blood or marriage
  • any person who is currently living or who has previously lived with the abuser

In order to be considered as a cohabitant, the person must be 16 years of age or older.

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What is Covered Under Utah’s Domestic Abuse Laws?

If the domestic abuser commits or attempts to commit any of the following offenses against a cohabitant, it is considered to be a domestic violence offense:

  • Stalking the victim
  • Harassment, including by means of electronic communication
  • Violation of a protective order
  • Assault including aggravated assault
  • Sexual offenses
  • Kidnapping including the kidnapping of a child
  • Sexual abuse of a child
  • Unlawfully restraining a person from leaving
  • Threatening harm with a deadly weapon including the unlawful discharge of firearms
  • Causing damage to property

Punishment For Domestic Abuse

Punishment for domestic abuse depends on whether the abuser has been charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense, and whether they have any prior convictions for domestic abuse. Subject to the nature of offense and the abuser’s criminal history, they can face imprisonment up to five years or fine up to USD five thousand or both.

Utah Domestic Abuse Statistics

According to a 2017 report entitled ‘Domestic Violence Among Utah Women’ by Utah Women & Leadership Project, one in three women in Utah will face domestic violence in her lifetime. A January 2018 editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune reported that 44% of the homicides in Utah were related to domestic violence.

As per the domestic abuse statistics released and reported by Utah Domestic Violation Coalition, domestic violence has accounted for about 42% of the homicides since 2000. They also report that, between 2010 and 2013, 88% of the homicides involving domestic violence were carried out by men, 39% of them had a history of domestic violence, and in 22% of the cases, children were either involved or witnessed the murder.

How to Get Help for Domestic Abuse?

If you or someone you know has experienced domestic abuse or is at risk of domestic abuse, you can avail yourself of the following resources:

Hotlines

Apart from 911, you can also call:

Utah Domestic Violence LINKLine

1-800-897-LINK (5465)

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

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Service Providers

Domestic violence service providers in Utah provide crisis lines, counseling, and support, shelter, temporary housing, transportation facilities, etc. to victims of domestic abuse and their families. These services are provided free of cost.

Restraining or Protective Orders

Domestic abuse victims can get a court order to restrain the abuser from contacting them and to stay away from them. Protective orders may be obtained before the commencement of the trial (‘pre-trial’ orders) or even when no domestic abuse charges are pending (‘ex-parte’ orders). Violation of protective orders is a criminal offense.

Additional Resources

Center for Women and Children in Crisis

Domestic Shelters

Domestic Violence Resources University of Utah Health

Safe Harbor

Utah Domestic Violation Coalition

YWCA Utah

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