What the top five mistakes are that defendants make in domestic violence cases

  1. First, not asking for a trial by jury. Obviously, it’s much more difficult for a prosecutor to convince a large jury (up to twelve in Utah!) of your guilt than it is to convince a single judge. Keep in mind that the judge presiding over your domestic violence case may have previously worked as a prosecutor and may have social ties to the same prosecutor, “victim advocate,” and police officers who will be investigating your case (especially in small towns). No judge wants to be labeled “soft on domestic violence cases.” There’s a good reason the forefathers of this great nation gave their lives to protect your right to a trial in front of a jury. Get the hang of calling for a jury and do it!
  1. Not explaining the meaning of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” to the jury. This is just as crucial as asking for a jury trial. And this is the ONE factor that we think criminal defense lawyers overlook the most. You should request that your lawyer take the time to explain to the jury why this higher standard of proof is so different from the other standards (clear and convincing, preponderance, material and substantial, etc.). A “not guilty” judgment does not necessarily indicate the jury has declared you innocent, so your attorney should make that clear to the panel. As the saying goes, “beyond a reasonable doubt” signifies that the State has not proven your guilt. It is advisable to consult with an experienced Salt Lake City domestic violence lawyer if you need specific answers about your legal options.
  1. Third, not providing evidence that the “domestic violence victim” is telling the truth contributes to the victim’s negative reputation. ‘The credibility of the witness is always relevant in the search for truth,’ as the saying goes. There are, without a doubt, many people who have been victims of domestic violence, but there are also innumerable liars who are merely manipulating the system.
  2. Defending the term “consent” incorrectly This is delicate territory since it has the potential to be both terribly politically incorrect and very rational and legal.
  1. 5. Refusing to consult legal counsel. Most people are aware that spouses have a right to “the spousal privilege,” but few realize that a person can decline to testify if they believe their statements could lead to criminal prosecution.
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