What Defines Aggravated Assault in UT?

Aggravated assault is a felony in Utah. If you are convicted of aggravated assault, you will face thousands of dollars in criminal fines, months or years of prison time, and the loss of your gun rights. You will also be burdened with a permanent criminal record, which can create obstacles to finding employment and advancing your career.

When you’re up against such serious penalties, it’s vital to make sure an experienced and knowledgeable defense attorney is there to defend your rights, guide you through the court system, and challenge the accusations against your good name. With more than 16 years of experience working on thousands of misdemeanor and felony cases, our criminal defense lawyers are firmly committed to representing adults and juveniles who are facing serious assault allegations.

Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case evaluation with our aggravated assault defense lawyers.

How is Aggravated Assault Different from Simple Assault in Utah?

Simple assault and aggravated assault are criminal offenses that both involve causing or attempting to cause physical injury. However, they are separate crimes and are charged under different circumstances. In a nutshell, simple assault is charged for minor or moderate injuries, while aggravated assault might be charged if the victim sustains major injuries or if the defendant uses a weapon during the alleged assault.

Utah uses the terms “bodily injury,” “substantial bodily injury,” and “serious bodily injury” to distinguish between levels of injury caused by assault. A person can be accused of simple assault, which is a type of misdemeanor if they intentionally or recklessly cause or attempt to cause bodily injury.

Bodily injury is defined as any physical pain, illness, or impairment. Additionally, if the injury is substantial, it can also be considered simple assault. Substantial injury can refer to an injury that causes long-term pain, short-term disfigurement, or the short-term impairment or loss of an organ or body part.

However, if the victim sustains “serious bodily injury,” the defendant can be charged with aggravated assault, which is a felony. Under Utah Code § 76-5-102, Utah defines serious bodily injury as any injury that creates a major risk of death, results in major, permanent disfigurement, or results in long-term loss of function or reduced function in an organ or body part.

Under Utah Code § 76-5-103, a person can be charged with aggravated assault when he or she causes, attempts, or threatens to cause injury by using force or violence in addition to using a dangerous weapon, which means “any item capable of causing death or serious bodily injury,” including, under certain circumstances, fake imitation weapons. Guns, knives, clubs, and brass knuckles are a few examples of dangerous weapons.

Using any other “means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury,” even if the object isn’t a weapon.

What Are the Criminal Penalties for a Felony in Utah?

There are two types of criminal offenses in Utah: misdemeanors, which are lesser offenses, and felonies, which are very serious crimes like rape and murder.

Simple assault is a misdemeanor, while aggravated assault is always charged as a felony. However, the type (“degree”) of felony it is charged with depends on the circumstances of the alleged assault. Aggravated assault might be charged as a third-degree felony unless the victim sustains serious bodily injury, in which case it becomes a second-degree felony, which carries greater penalties. Utah’s criminal penalties for third and second felony offenses are listed below.

For a third-degree felony, the offender might be fined up to $5,000 and imprisoned for up to 5 years. For a second-degree felony, the offender might be fined up to $10,000 and imprisoned for 1 to 15 years.

Aggravated assault is a first-degree felony when it is committed by a prisoner and results in serious bodily injury. The penalties for a first-degree felony in Utah can include a fine of up to $10,000 and anywhere from five years to life in prison.

There are several types of assault that are considered felony offenses. These include assault against a peace officer or a military servicemember in uniform, assault by a prisoner, and the act of throwing or launching a substance or object at a correctional officer or peace officer in specific circumstances.

Common Defenses to Aggravated Assault in Utah

while being charged with aggravated assault in Utah is a serious matter, there are several defenses available that can potentially reduce the charges or lead to an acquittal. However, each case is unique and requires a tailored defense strategy, making the role of our aggravated assault defense attorneys invaluable. The following are common defenses used against aggravated assault charges in Utah.


When someone is facing aggravated assault charges, one of the most commonly used defenses is self-defense. This defense is based on the assertion that the defendant was not the aggressor but instead acted to protect themselves or others from imminent harm. For instance, if a person breaks into your home brandishing a weapon, and you use a bat to strike them, causing severe injuries, you could argue that you were acting in self-defense.

However, this defense requires the defendant to demonstrate that they had a reasonable fear of harm and that their response was proportional to the threat. Additionally, the defendant must show that they had no other option but to use force to protect themselves or others. The burden of proof typically lies with the defense, and the outcome will depend on the strength of the evidence presented.

Defense of Others

Similar to self-defense, defense of others is a legal concept that involves taking action to protect another person from immediate harm. For example, if you witness someone pointing a gun at your friend and you intervene to prevent the attack, causing injury to the potential shooter, you might be able to claim the defense of others.

The key element is that you must reasonably believe that the person you are protecting is in immediate danger of harm and that your actions are necessary to prevent that harm. However, the force you use must be reasonable and proportionate to the threat faced.

Defense of Property

There are certain situations where the use of force to protect one’s property might be considered justified. For instance, if an individual is attempting to set fire to your house and you used force to prevent them from doing so, you could potentially assert the defense of property as a legal argument.

Like with the other defenses, the use of force must be proportional to the threat posed and should not result in any unnecessary harm to the other person.

Lack of Intent

Utah defines aggravated assault as an intentional act that causes serious bodily harm or injury to another person. However, if you can provide evidence that you did not have the intent to cause harm, you might be able to mount a successful defense against the charges.

For instance, if you were swinging a baseball bat and accidentally hit someone, resulting in severe physical injury, you could argue that you lacked the necessary intent for an aggravated assault charge. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to demonstrate intent, which means that a lack of intent defense could potentially result in a reduction of charges or even an acquittal.

Constitutional Defenses

The United States Constitution provides several rights and protections that can be used as defenses in aggravated assault cases. These defenses include the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. If evidence was obtained through an unlawful search or seizure, it could be suppressed, which weakens the prosecution’s case.

Additionally, the Fifth Amendment provides protection against self-incrimination. This means that if you were coerced into making a confession without being informed of your right to remain silent, that confession might not be admissible in court.

Finally, the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a fair trial, including adequate legal representation and an unbiased jury. If any of these rights were violated, you could argue that your Sixth Amendment rights were infringed upon.

While some of these defenses can be made in your case, other violations occur during the prosecution. This means that the unfair impact might not be known until after the prosecution has concluded. Fortunately, many of these defenses can be raised on appeal, arguing that you were denied a fair trial in the first place.

Mistaken Identity

It is possible in some situations that the accused individual might not have actually committed the assault they are being accused of. In such cases, it is the responsibility of their attorney to present a defense based on mistaken identity.

For instance, if the victim’s identification of the accused is based on an unclear surveillance video or any other unreliable evidence, your lawyer can challenge the reliability of this identification. By doing so, they can raise doubt about the involvement of their client in the incident and present a strong case in their defense.

Insufficient Evidence

In Utah, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed aggravated assault. However, in some cases, the evidence presented against you might be insufficient to meet this high burden of proof.

In such situations, our team can challenge the credibility and admissibility of the evidence presented against you. This might involve questioning the reliability of eyewitness testimony, challenging the accuracy of forensic evidence, or pointing out inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case.

Our Utah Aggravated Assault Defense Lawyers are Ready to Help

For a free case review, speak with our aggravated assault defense attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC by calling us today at (801) 758-2287.