Domestic Violence charges are, for the most part, not independent crimes.
"Domestic Violence" is a tag placed on regular crimes such as assault and criminal mischief when they involve cohabitants.
In a nutshell, it is the relationship with the alleged victim that can make these charges more damaging to the accused.
"Domestic Violence" or "domestic violence offense" means any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm, or threat of violence or physical harm, or any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit a criminal offense involving violence or physical harm, when committed by one cohabitant against another.
Domestic violence or domestic violence offense also means commission or attempt to commit, any of the following offenses by one cohabitant against another:
Aggravated Assault, Assault
Drug crimes – Often, a drug crime committed by a minor is a simple lapse of judgment and it can be an overwhelming experience to both minors and legal guardians. The juvenile justice system is very different from standard Utah criminal court. Each case is assessed on a case-by-case basis, and the penalties vary from adult crimes.
Marijuana possession and distribution – Many minors are arrested for cannabis offenses during searches conducted as part of routine traffic stops. If your child has been recently arrested for a marijuana-related offense it is vital to retain an experienced defense attorney.
Theft crimes – Theft crimes are penalized, in Utah, based on the value of the property stolen or the type of property stolen. Theft can be charged as a misdemeanor all the way up to a serious second-degree felony
Violent crimes – In Utah, violent crimes can carry a wide range of sentences depending on the circumstances and the victims involved. In most cases, violent crimes require a mandatory prison sentence. Having legal representation is crucial.
Juvenile Justice Procedure
Under Utah law, if suspected of a juvenile crime, an individual may be detained by a police officer or probation officer. After which, the juvenile’s parents must be notified, and the juvenile may either be released into their custody or be detained for their protection.
When a juvenile is released from custody, he or she will receive a citation to appear at their juvenile court hearing. In some situations, the court will decide whether to proceed to trial or find another method through a preliminary inquiry between the juvenile, their guardian, an attorney, and a court agent.
If the preliminary hearing proposes that a trial is unnecessary, the case will go to a Non-Judicial Agreement. If this agreement is unsatisfactory to the juvenile, he or she will go to trial where the proceedings will move forward as usual.
Juvenile Rights in Utah
Under Utah law, a juvenile offender possesses certain rights not afforded to individuals 18 years or older. In contrast, there are certain rights, juvenile offenders lack; however, constitutional rights are always present for juvenile offenders. Some of these rights include:
Hiring an attorney
Appearing in court to defend him or herself
Guarding against incrimination
Seeking an appeal
Speedy trial and time to create a defense
Questioning witnesses for the defense
Knowledge of accusations against the juvenile
Utah Penalties for Juvenile Offenses
Depending on the crime, Utah law provides similar penalties for juvenile offenses as it does for adult defenses; however, most penalties for juvenile offenses are somewhat minor. Less severe offenses may still have long-lasting effects on a juvenile’s record.
Some juvenile offense penalties include detention; orders to repay a victim, protective supervision, probation, curfew, fines, and counseling among several others. Individual circumstances will impact the type of penalties a juvenile may receive.
Resources for Utah Juvenile Offenders
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) – The department was established by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974. The OJJDP attempts to improve the juvenile justice system, protect children, and support local and state efforts to prevent delinquency. Furthermore, the department is dedicated to strengthening the juvenile justice system by supporting the efforts of tribes, states, and communities to implement an effective and equitable system that ensures the safety of the public and holds the youth accountable.
Salt Lake Peer Court – The Salt Lake Peer Court provides youthful offenders with alternative opportunities to be held accountable for their offenses. Additionally, it aims to “combat the disproportionate involvement of marginalized” youth in the system.
Utah Juvenile Courts – Visit the link to learn more general information about the juvenile court in Utah including court terms, judges, the type of cases that are taken in juvenile court, and much more. The website also provides informative videos about navigating the juvenile court and learning your rights as a juvenile defendant.
Juvenile Justice Services Early Intervention – Follow the link to learn about services and programs for rehabilitation and supervision of youth offenders in Utah.
Utah Criminal Justice Center – University of Utah College of Social Work resource for youth offender rehabilitation, statistics, and analysis.