Even though Utah has fairly relaxed gun regulations, there are still certain acts which are prohibited by law. One of these acts is to bring a dangerous weapon onto school grounds, whether that weapon is a firearm, a knife, or another object that is capable of causing death or serious harm.
If your daughter or son was arrested for bringing a gun to school, or if you were charged with weapons possession on school property, the consequences can be dire, especially if you or your child has a record of prior offenses. It is crucial to ensure that you or your child is represented by a skilled, aggressive, and knowledgeable weapons possession defense attorney who knows what sorts of strategies to apply in these challenging, high-stakes cases. Don’t wait another day to seek the legal help you need. Call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 to arrange a free and confidential consultation.
Was Your Child Arrested for Bringing a Gun, Knife, or Weapon to School in Utah?
In order for a defendant to be convicted of possessing a dangerous weapon on school property, the prosecution needs to prove certain facts, which are known as elements of the offense. If any of these elements are missing or are shown to be untrue, the defendant cannot be convicted of that particular crime.
Under Utah Code § 76-10-505.5 – the statute that defines the crime known as “possession of a dangerous weapon, firearm, or short barreled shotgun on or about school premises” – an element of the offense is that the defendant knew, or had reasonable cause to know, that the building or property was in fact a school premises. The term “school premises” can mean:
- A public or private elementary school
- A public or private secondary school (middle school, high school)
- A public or private college, community college, or university
- A preschool or daycare
- School property, such as a field or parking lot
The term “dangerous weapon” is broad, and extends beyond firearms. It includes guns and many other objects, such as clubs and knives, which are “capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.”
Certain people are exempt from this law. A person should not be charged with possessing a weapon on or about school premises if he or she:
- Is authorized to possess a weapon under certain laws
- Has obtained approval to possess a weapon from the school administrator
Additionally, it is lawful to possess a weapon on school premises if the object “is present or to be used in connection with a lawful, approved activity and is in the possession or under the control of the person responsible for its possession or use.”
Utah Penalties for Weapon Possession on School Property: Sentencing and Criminal Fines
There are two basic types of crimes in Utah: misdemeanors and felonies. Weapons possession on school property is a misdemeanor, but that does not mean it is a minor or insignificant matter. On the contrary, the penalties for this crime can be quite severe.
There are three types of misdemeanors under Utah’s criminal laws: Class C misdemeanors, Class B misdemeanors, and Class A misdemeanors. A Class A misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor charge, being only one level below a felony.
Possessing a weapon at school can be a Class B or Class A misdemeanor, depending on the type of weapon that is involved in the offense. It is a Class A misdemeanor under Utah Code § 76-10-505.5(3)(b) when the weapon is a:
- Short-barreled shotgun (sawed-off shotgun)
- Firearm, a term which includes:
- Short-barreled rifles
- Any other “device that could be used as a dangerous weapon,” if it is capable of “expel[ing] a projectile by action of an explosive”
Unless it involves a firearm or short-barreled shotgun, the offense is otherwise categorized as a Class B misdemeanor under Utah Code § 76-10-505.5(3)(a). In Utah, the criminal penalties for a Class B misdemeanor can include:
- Up to $1,000 in criminal fines
- Up to 6 months in jail
In addition or as an alternative, the defendant may receive other penalties, such as probation or mandatory community service.
The Utah penalties for a Class A misdemeanor are more severe, and may include:
- Up to $2,500 in criminal fines
- Up to 1 year in jail
Again, the court may order additional penalties at its discretion, depending on factors like the defendant’s age and criminal history.
Experienced Salt Lake City Defense Attorney Representing Juvenile Defendants
A person of any age can be charged with weapons possession on school grounds. However, juveniles are generally subject to different criminal procedures and penalties than adults, except in cases where they are tried in adult court. If your teenage son or daughter was arrested for bringing a weapon to school, it is very important that he or she is represented by a juvenile defense lawyer who has specific experience handling criminal charges against teens and minors, like Darwin Overson of Overson Law.
These charges are serious regardless of the defendant’s age. If you have been arrested for gun possession at an elementary school, middle school, high school, college, community college, university, or preschool in Utah, it is in your best interests to contact our law firm immediately for assistance. To set up a free legal consultation, call Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 as soon as possible.