Too often, victims of domestic violence are mistakenly arrested and criminally charged for protecting themselves from the violence committed against them by the perpetrator who has long been the abuser in a relationship. Unfortunately, these victims feel trapped in the abusive relationship are now more restrained within the criminal system. Rather than fight, many choose to accept a plea deal, and not allow the truth to prevail.
In Utah, even accepting a plea in abeyance to a domestic violence offense can have significant ramifications. A plea in abeyance, although not a conviction, requires you to pay a fine, to be supervised by either the court or probation, to undergo domestic violence treatment, and to risk a conviction if you are unable to complete the ordered terms. Also, a plea in abeyance to domestic violence is enhanceable, meaning that if you are accused of committing domestic violence in the next five years, the government can increase the penalty by one degree, which is significant.
Simply put, the abuser can use protections meant for victims as a sword against the victim and not as a shield as it was intended.
More importantly, the abuser can use the allegation against the victim in many ways. Knowing that a violation of the agreement will result in conviction, the abuser gains even more power and control over the victim. The abuser can also use the allegation to bolster a Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) action, gaining the upper hand for custody in a divorce proceeding, and to obtain a protective order against the victim. Simply put, the abuser can now use the protections that were meant for victims as a sword against the victim and not as a shield as it was intended.
All hope is not lost. Having a defense attorney experienced in the dynamics of domestic violence will provide you the ability to tell your side of the story. Greg Ferbrache has over 14 years as a prosecutor working with victims of domestic violence and other serious victim crimes, and has been recognized for his work in the domestic violence field. As a criminal defense attorney, Greg has successfully obtained justice for victims who have been mistakenly charged. If you have been falsely accused of a crime you did not commit, give Ferbrache Law a call (801) 440-7476.
https://ferbrachelaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/shieldlogov3.png00Greghttps://ferbrachelaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/shieldlogov3.pngGreg2019-04-08 21:16:172020-08-07 11:13:20When The Victim Is Charged
SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Tabitha Bell, 18, now a college student in California, will come back to Utah to take advantage of a new law that gives victims of sexual assault a second chance to take their alleged perpetrators to trial.
House Bill 281 — Prosecution Review Amendments — which goes into effect on May 13, will give the Utah Attorney General’s Office authority to give a second look to first-degree felony cases that were vetted by police, but got no action from local prosecutors and never made it to trial.
Bell said she relived the pain of her assault in police interviews and in interviews with prosecutors. She then lived through more pain when prosecutors declined to take her case to trial — even though police felt it had merit.
“If you are going to put yourself through all that emotional trauma, you should have something come of it,” she said.
Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah and a former judge, said sexual assault cases will be most impacted by the new law.
Utah, he said, has a low rate of prosecution for sexual assault cases. He’s not sure why.
“I think part of it is prosecutors are just demanding a very high level of evidence to move forward. Higher than in other parts of the country,” he said.
Dr. Julie Valentine, a professor at Brigham young University and a forensic nurse who has been a leader in advocating for Utah sex assault victims and for more prosecutions, said her research found that in Salt Lake County alone, only 6% of sexual assault cases make it to trial.
Of those cases, only 6% lead to convictions.
That’s likely because prosecutors only take on the cases where they feel very confident they’ll get a conviction.
Valentine said sexual assault cases are challenging because, often, there are no witnesses and, often, the defense attorneys attack the victims during trial.
“We are not trying to imply they are easy cases, we are saying we need more prosecutions of these cases,” Valentine said.
https://ferbrachelaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/shieldlogov3.png00Greghttps://ferbrachelaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/shieldlogov3.pngGreg2019-04-05 03:43:152019-04-05 03:43:25College student will be among first to test new law's impact on sex assault cases
Fox News 13 POSTED 5:49 PM, APRIL 3, 2019, BY AMANDA GERRY, UPDATED AT 08:03PM, APRIL 3, 2019
SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office said more can be done to battle sexual assault and we can start by believing victims and their stories.
“One of the most common reasons victims of sexual assault do not report the crime is a fear of not being believed and being blamed for the attack,” said Jennifer Seelig, director of community empowerment at the SLC Mayor’s Office.
Salt Lake City became a “Start by Believing” city Wednesday, joining a campaign that encourages the community to support assault victims and hear their stories.
“I’m here today to let them know that I support them, law-enforcement supports them, the City of Salt Lake, the Mayor of Salt Lake City supports them, and that they’ll be believed, and we’ll help them get the services and resources they need,” said Representative Angela Romero.
A member of the Utah Council of Crime Victims also highlighted a new bill that would be another option if victims feel like their voices have been silenced.
“That house bill authorizes the attorney general’s office to take a second look at cases that have been presented to a county or district attorney and have been denied for prosecution,” said Reed Richards, Utah Council of Crime Victims.
This bill will help victims like Tabitha Bell, who says although her experience with the police was relieving, once the district attorney took her case, things started going south.
“On the declination letter, they did not even have the respect to spell my name correctly,” Bell said.
She says when she reported being raped back in November 2017, prosecutors mishandled her report and did not show her and her family the empathy they deserved.
“Why did you think she wanted it when he shoved her face in the couch,” Tabitha said her dad had asked representatives in the District Attorney’s Office. “And they were like, well maybe she wanted it that way.”
One-in-3 Utah woman will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and Chief Mike Brown of the Salt Lake City Police Department says since his agency has become more sensitive to these incidents, more people have become comfortable enough to come forward.
“In the old days, they used to be just, you know, I need the facts. Well, those days are gone. You don’t investigate like that anymore. You go out, and you’re understanding, and you’re sympathetic,” Brown said.
Officials say they hope this awareness and new legislation will bring criminals of assault to justice.
“I feel like with this is helping me to prove to my high school community and to my attacker that they can’t get away with punishing me for coming out,” Bell said, “and I really hope that all the other victims who have not had the strength will be able to come out as well.”
Utah was the first to announce the first Wednesday in April as “Start by Believing” Day, which is nationally recognized.
https://ferbrachelaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/shieldlogov3.png00Greghttps://ferbrachelaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/shieldlogov3.pngGreg2019-04-05 03:29:562019-04-05 03:33:30Salt Lake leaders hope ‘Start by Believing’ campaign, new legislation will encourage assault victims to make voices heard