Different Levels Of Assault:
In Utah, an assault charge can range from a Misdemeanor B to a 2nd Degree Felony.
A Misdemeanor B charge requires either:
- an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another
- a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
- an act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another
Any of these actions can become a Misdemeanor A charge if:
- the person causes substantial bodily injury to another; or
- the victim is pregnant and the person has knowledge of the pregnancy.
These actions can become a 3rd Degree Felony if:
- the person uses a dangerous weapon, or
- other force or means likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.
And, finally, a 3rd Degree Felony Assault can become a 2nd Degree Felony Assault if it actually results in serious bodily injury. Also, there are several more “specific” kinds of assault, such as Assault Against an Officer, Assault of a School Employee, Assault by a Prisoner, etc.
Note: there isn’t a “battery” crime under Utah state statute (except for sexual battery), because the assault statute now includes things that were typically considered “battery.”
Possible Penalties for an Assault Conviction:
As stated above, it depends on the level of offense. Here’s a chart showing maximum penalties depending on the level:
- 2nd Degree Felony: 1-15 years in prison, $10,000 fine.
- 3rd Degree Felony: 0-5 years in prison, $5,000 fine.
- Misdemeanor A: 1 year in jail, $2,500 fine.
- Misdemeanor B: 6 months in jail, $1,000 fine.
It is unusual for judges to impose a “maximum” jail/prison sentence, but it is a possibility. More likely is some combination of jail/prison, community service, fines, probation, and possibly anger management classes.
“But What If It Was Self Defense?”:
Utah law does provide a “defense” to the crime based on a claim of self defense, specifically: “A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that force or a threat of force is necessary to defend the person or a third person against another person’s imminent use of unlawful force.” See Utah Code 76-2-402.
If you have a self-defense claim, a key question will be whether or not your belief that you had to defend yourself was “reasonable.” This will be a matter for the jury (or sometimes the judge) to decide. Some of the relevant factors under the self-defense law are:
- the nature of the danger
- the immediacy of the danger;
- the probability that the unlawful force would result in death or serious bodily injury;
- the other’s prior violent acts or violent propensities; and
- any patterns of abuse or violence in the parties’ relationship.
It’s important to note that the defense may not work if you provoked the altercation or you were the “initial aggressor.” Typically, this is a very fact-specific determination that must be argued and resolved at a trial, so it helps to have a good assault attorney helping you out.
“But What If I Never Even Touched the Other Person?”:
Most people think of assault as, at the least, a shove or punch–some sort of physical contact–but that’s not the case. Assault certainly can include a shove or punch, but it also can include “an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another”or “a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another.”
So, technically, you could be convicted of assault if you tried to throw a brick at someone’s head, but missed. You could also be convicted if you got up in someone’s face and threatened to beat them up. However, threatening someone over the phone probably would not be an assault crime (although it may be another crime) because it’s hard to make a show of immediate force or violence over the phone.
What to Do If You’ve Been Charged With Assault
If you’re looking for an assault attorney in Utah, feel free to contact me. Even if you’re not sure whether you want or can afford an attorney, I’d encourage you to get in touch. We can talk about your case without pressure or obligation during a free initial consultation.
Some Blog Posts that Might Be of Interest:
- The Truth About Miranda Rights Is They Don’t Exist (at least not how you think).
- What’s the Deal with All These Mug-Shot Websites? (your questions sort-of answered).