About Utah Crime Negligent Homicide Under Code 76-5-206

Homicide is one of the most serious crimes a person can be charged with in the state of Utah.  In addition to depriving you of your basic freedoms and burdening you with costly criminal fines, a negligent homicide conviction can also create major hurdles when it comes to finding employment or advancing your career.  The consequences of a homicide conviction can have negative repercussions for the rest of your life.

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Get an Experienced Salt Lake City, Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

It is painful, confusing, and stressful to watch a loved one be accused of committing a serious crime.  You probably have many questions about what to do next, and what you can expect in the days to come.

During this difficult time, it is absolutely critical that you and your loved ones have dedicated legal support from a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney.  With over 16 years of experience defending Utahans against serious felony charges, criminal lawyer Darwin Overson will stand by your side to confront the allegations head-on.  Darwin’s experience working on thousands of criminal cases has prepared him to meet complex legal challenges with an innovative, strategic approach.

To set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation with Darwin, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 758-2287.  Darwin is available around the clock, including nights and weekends, and is ready to make emergency jail visits.

What Does Criminal Negligence Mean?

Homicide means causing the death of a human being.  However, there are many different forms of homicide a person can be charged with in Utah.  The crime a defendant is charged with depends on the circumstances under which the alleged homicide was committed.

When homicide is committed deliberately, it is charged as murder.  By comparison, manslaughter describes a reckless homicide, or a homicide caused by disregard for human safety.

Negligent homicide is another, separate homicide offense.  Being charged with negligent homicide does not mean you have been charged with murder or manslaughter.  Under Utah Code § 76-6-206, a person is charged with negligent homicide when he or she allegedly causes another person’s death through actions that constitute “criminal negligence.”

Negligence is a legal concept which often arises in civil matters, such as personal injury lawsuits.  However, “simple” negligence is different from criminal negligence, which is a key element of negligent homicide.

Utah defines simple negligence as “failing to exercise [the level] of care which reasonable and prudent persons [would] exercise under… similar circumstances.”  A person acts with criminal negligence when he or she “should be aware that [his or her] conduct creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk that [death or injury] will occur.”  The term “conduct” can describe taking the wrong action (such as accelerating a vehicle), or failing to take the correct action (such as failing to brake or turn).

The prosecutor does not need to prove that the defendant was actually aware of the risk; only that the defendant should have been aware, considering the circumstances.  CR 306A states, “The nature and extent of the risk must be of such a magnitude that failing to perceive it is a gross deviation from what an ordinary person would perceive in that situation,” which means the prosecutor must prove that the defendant’s failure to be aware of the hazard was unreasonable in the context of the situation — put simply, that the defendant should have known better.

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How Long is the Sentence for Negligent Homicide in Utah?

Criminal offenses in Utah are divided into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies.  Felonies are subject to longer prison sentences, more expensive fines, and in some cases, additional penalties, such as the loss of certain rights and privileges.  While they carry lighter penalties, misdemeanors can also lead to jail time, costly fines, and other miscellaneous consequences.

Like many states, Utah separates misdemeanors into several categories called “classes”: Class C, Class B, and Class A.  Negligent homicide is a Class A misdemeanor, the most serious non-felony a person can be charged with.

The criminal penalties for a Class A misdemeanor can include a fine of up to $2,500, and/or up to one year of incarceration in a county jail.  If the alleged homicide was committed by vehicle, the defendant’s driver’s license will be revoked immediately.  In some situations, the court may order a sentence of probation, where the probationer reports to a probation officer and follows court rules while living in the community.

In addition to the extensive court-ordered penalties, a negligent homicide conviction will also result in the creation of a criminal record, which will remain permanently accessible to employers and other individuals unless the record can be sealed with an expungement.  Unfortunately, having a criminal record can create major obstacles when it comes to getting hired for certain jobs, gaining professional licenses and credentials, and even being approved for some types of loans.  These unintended consequences continue to punish former offenders long after they have finished paying their fines and serving their time.

The negative consequences of a negligent homicide conviction can affect your life for years.  When the stakes are this high, it is crucial to make sure that an aggressive defense attorney will be there to protect your rights, challenge the evidence against you, and help you and your loved ones navigate the justice system.

To set up your free initial consultation, call negligent homicide attorney Darwin Overson at (801) 758-2287 right way.  Darwin handles cases in Salt Lake County, Wasatch County, Weber County, Davis County, and throughout the state of Utah.