Domestic Violence Defense Options

Domestic violence defense law on a wooden table.

Domestic violence charges are serious. A conviction could have lifelong consequences, including fines, jail time, and a profound impact on your family and your life.

Sometimes, allegations of domestic violence are the result of a misunderstanding. Maybe your neighbors overheard a heated argument, or your spouse or domestic partner called the police in the heat of the moment but does not want to press charges. Unfortunately, once the police have been called and you have been charged, prosecutors are unlikely to dismiss the case, even if the victim does not want to pursue it.

But remember—you have domestic violence defense options available and are presumed innocent until you are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

What Is Domestic Violence in Utah?

Under Utah law, domestic violence refers to any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm committed by one cohabitant against another. The word cohabitant has a specific legal definition that includes former spouses, people who are involved or have been involved in a sexual relationship, people who live together or have lived together, people related by blood or marriage, and people who have children together.

Utah’s domestic violence statute identifies numerous crimes that, when committed against a cohabitant, constitute domestic violence.

Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction

Penalties for a domestic violence conviction in Utah are usually the same as for the underlying offense, regardless of who the victim is. Punishments for a domestic violence conviction are as follows:

  • A Class C misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $750.
  • A Class B misdemeanor conviction can result in up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $1,000.
  • A conviction for a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and fines of up to $2,500.
  • A Third-Degree Felony is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
  • A Second-Degree Felony conviction can result in up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
  • A conviction for a First-Degree Felony is punishable by life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Douglas D. Terry & Associates Defends Against Domestic Violence Charges

If you have been charged with domestic violence in Utah, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will independently investigate the charges against you and mount an aggressive domestic violence defense. The criminal defense lawyers at Douglas D. Terry & Associates will evaluate the unique circumstances of your situation and identify your best domestic violence defense options.

False Accusations

Unfortunately, some people make false accusations of domestic violence because of anger, to try to gain the upper hand in a divorce or child custody case, or because of a personal vendetta against the accused. By conducting an independent investigation into your circumstances, we will uncover the truth and present evidence to have your case dismissed or to obtain a Not Guilty verdict. This is our priority when it comes to domestic violence defense, not guilty is our north star and what we do to get there will always hold up the law to the strongest value of truth.


Sometimes proving that you did not do the acts you are accused of is the best domestic violence defense. If there is an alternate explanation for the victim’s injuries, you have an alibi, or were not in the vicinity of where the incident of domestic violence occurred, our legal team will assert your innocence and defend you against allegations of domestic violence. To use innocence as a domestic violence defense, you will likely need a witness to testify that you were not involved in the alleged incident.

The Victim’s Behavior

If the victim has a history of violence, it can be helpful to gather evidence to show that the episode of violence was a result of the victim’s behavior.


You are allowed to use reasonable force to protect yourself or your children. Even if you were at the scene and involved in the altercation, if the victim was the initial aggressor or you believed the threat of injury was imminent, you may be able to claim self-defense or defense of your children.

Reasonable Doubt

In any criminal case, the prosecution must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We will evaluate your situation and identify inconsistencies in the evidence, such as defensive wounds (or that the alleged victim’s injuries were not defensive in nature) or a lack of independent testimony supporting the victim’s version of the events. Without sufficient evidence, the prosecutor may have no choice by to dismiss the case.

Technical Defenses

Technical defenses are available in any case. These domestic violence defenses include claims that the police failed to read you your Miranda rights, you were denied the opportunity to speak to a lawyer, you were questioned after asserting your right to remain silent, lack of probable cause, bias, or other problems with police conduct.

Douglas D. Terry & Associates: Protecting the Rights of the Accused in Utah

The lawyers at Douglas D. Terry & Associates have extensive experience defending people accused of domestic violence in Utah. With offices in St. George and Cedar City, we defend clients throughout Southern Utah—from Richfield to Panguitch, and in Kanab, Beaver, and Fillmore.

We invite you to learn more about us and to contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help.

Categories: Criminal Defense