Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Howard
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Domestic Violence - Forfeiture by Wrongdoing

This page presents a brief overview of the doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing as it applies in domestic violence and other Utah criminal defense cases. The doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing can dramatically affect the strength of a prosecutor's case when there is a witness who may be reluctant to testify or who is persuaded by another not to testify. If you are facing criminal charges in Utah, contact us today to see what the right attorney can do for you.

Utah Criminal Defense Issues - Doctrine of Forfeiture by Wrongdoing

The doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing has been applied by Utah courts in cases where a defendant (or someone acting at the direction of or on behalf of the defendant) has engaged in wrongful conduct that has resulted in the unavailability of a prosecution witness. Courts have applied this doctrine in situations ranging in severity from the actual murder of a witness to the a subtle threat that results in a witness refusing to testify in court. In addition to evidence that the defendant's wrongful conduct has resulted in the unavailability of a witness, the doctrine generally requires evidence that the defendant acted with the intent to make the witness unavailable.

The legal doctrine of "forfeiture by wrongdoing" can serve as an exception to the evidentiary rules generally applicable to hearsay and can function as a waiver of a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against him/her. The theory underlying the doctrine is based on the idea that by engaging in wrongdoing that results in the unavailability of a witness/declarant, the defendant has forfeited the right to confront that witness/declarant at trial. The result often is that prior statements of the unavailable witness/declarant may be admitted at trial even though the statements would otherwise constitute inadmissible hearsay.

The determination as to whether the doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing should apply in any particular case is a determination that should be made by the court outside the presence of the jury. Evidence that a witness was killed by the defendant and evidence that a witness is afraid to testify or is choosing to invoke a spousal or other privilege based on threats made by the defendant may be very relevant to the issue of whether the doctrine applies. But that same evidence will often be irrelevant and extremely prejudicial to the defendant in context of the charges that are filed in the main case.

Finding the Right Criminal Defense Attorney

Salt Lake Criminal Defense LawyerIf you are facing prosecution in Utah for a domestic violence offense or other criminal charges, the consequences of a conviction can be serious. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can be vital. Contact us now to see what the right attorney can do for you.

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  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense Trial AttorneyNot Guilty - Client was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly pointing handgun at and threatening another driver during a road rage incident. Defense investigation and analysis, combined with effective cross-examination at trial indicated the alleged victim was the initial aggressor and suported client's self-defense claim. Jury acquitted client at trial.
  • Minor Possession Alcohol - MIP AttorneyDismissed - Minor in possession charge (MIP) was dismissed by prosecutor when defense analysis demonstrated that the police had failed to obtain necessary evidence against client. Police had raided a large party involving underage drinking. Several individuals were charged, but police did not obtain evidence showing that client had personally consumed or possessed alcohol. Case was dismissed.
  • Utah Probation Attorney Released - Client absconded for more than 10 years from felony probation with Adult Probation and Parole. At an order to show cause hearing, prosecutor argued aggressively for prison. Based on effective mitigation efforts by the defense, the judge agreed to release client without further jail.
  • Violent Crimes Assalt Defense UtahProbation - Client charged with aggravated robbery based on allegations he entered a store with a gun and mask and demanded cash. Client confessed to police before hiring a defense attorney. Defense mitigation efforts resulted in a negotiated resolution that removed life in prison as a possibility, and secured a probation sentence from the court.
Best Utah Criminal Defense Strategy

Successfully defending against criminal prosecution requires more than just an 'aggressive' defense. The best defense attorneys understand that a sophisticated defense requires a thorough understanding of a variety of nuanced legal issues, real experience in the courtroom, good negotiation skills, and much more. Fighting hard is good. Fighting smart is better....

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Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Profile Utah

Defending against a criminal prosecution in Utah is a job that has to be done right the first time. Choosing the right attorney to defend you can be the most important decision you make. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling some of the most serious felony and misdemeanor charges on the books in Utah. No matter what charges you are facing, we can help....

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Conviction Consequences in Utah Criminal Prosecutions

Jail time, prison time, thousands of dollars in fines, and the lifetime collateral consequences of having a criminal conviction on your record - all of these and more are at stake when you are facing criminal prosecution in Utah. Understanding what is at risk is critical. Even so-called "minor" misdemeanor cases can have serious consequences....

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Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Reasons to Hope

Never give up hope. Being charged with a crime is not the same as being convicted. And it is usually not the end of the world. While the consequences of a criminal charge can be serious, there are often several options and strategies for handling your case. Understanding your options and how an experienced criminal lawyer can help....

Reasons to Hope »
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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

The materials in this website are intended for informational purposes only, and are not legal advice. Viewing or responding to materials in this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Read Full Disclaimer.