While Utah has some of the nation’s more relaxed gun laws, certain offenses can still result in the imposition of serious penalties, even for minors under the age of 18. If your teenage daughter or son was charged with gun possession in Salt Lake City or elsewhere in Utah, his or her academic future is at risk.
Make sure your child has the benefit of quality legal representation. To set up a free legal consultation with a highly experienced Utah weapons crimes lawyer, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 today.
When is it a Crime for Minors to Possess Guns or Knives Under Utah Code 76-10-509?
For legal purposes, a minor is any person under the age of 18. Under Utah Code § 76-10-509, it is unlawful for a minor to possess a dangerous weapon in Utah unless he or she either:
- Is under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian while carrying the weapon (“while he [or she] has the weapon in his [or her] possession”).
- Has obtained permission from a parent or legal guardian to own the weapon.
If the minor has not received parental permission, and was not under supervision while in possession of the weapon, the act of possession is a crime under Utah Code § 76-10-509.
Moreover, children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult whenever they are in possession of a dangerous weapon.
What is the Legal Definition of a Dangerous Weapon in Utah?
The term “dangerous weapon” has many meanings. Under Utah Code § 76-1-601, which provides definitions for terms frequently used in Utah’s criminal statutes, a dangerous weapon is “any item capable of causing death or serious bodily injury,” including but not limited to:
Even imitation weapons are included in this definition (“a facsimile or representation of the item”), if the owner either:
- Uses the fake weapon in such a way as to cause another person to “reasonably believe the item is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury.”
- Tells another person, or otherwise indicates, that he or she is in control of a weapon capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.
Additionally, there are certain weapons which minors are simply not allowed to possess under Utah’s gun laws. For example, Utah Code § 76-10-509.4 bans minors from owning handguns of any kind. It also bans minors, with some exceptions under federal law, from owning:
- Fully Automatic Weapons
- Short-Barreled Rifles (SBR)
- Short-Barreled Shotguns (Sawed-Off Shotguns)
Salt Lake City Juvenile Penalties for Firearm Possession
Utah, like most states, has two types of crimes: minor offenses called misdemeanors, and major offenses called felonies. While felonies are more serious, misdemeanors are fully capable of triggering hefty fines, jail time (for adults) or detention (for juveniles), and other penalties, such as suspension of a driver’s license or mandatory community service, depending on the situation.
There are three types of misdemeanors in Utah: Class C, Class B, and Class A. Class A misdemeanors are the most serious type.
Possession of a dangerous weapon by a juvenile is a Class B misdemeanor, subject to a fine of up to $1,000. Second and subsequent offenses are Class A misdemeanors, which can result in fines as high as $2,500.
Adults may be incarcerated for up to six months for a Class B misdemeanor, or up to one year for a Class A misdemeanor, though placement of juveniles into a secure facility is, to quote the Utah Sentencing Commission, “reserved for the most serious or chronic offenders that remain in the juvenile justice system.” It is more typical for juveniles to be sentenced to probation. However, juveniles may be placed in detention for up to 30 days “as a disposition for any delinquent act, regardless of the criminal history.”
Utah’s criminal code contains several laws that penalize parents and other adults who allow children or teenagers to buy or possess weapons under certain conditions. These offenses include:
- Utah Code § 76-10-509.6 — Parent or Guardian Providing Firearm to Violent Minor
- Utah Code § 76-10-509.7 — Parent or Guardian Knowing of Minor’s Possession of Dangerous Weapon
- Utah Code § 76-10-509.9 — Sales of Firearms to Juveniles
Was Your Son or Daughter Arrested? Contact a Utah Juvenile Defense Attorney
A history of criminal charges stemming from gun possession can create major problems for your son or daughter when he or she is applying for jobs or student loans, or trying to get into college. Additionally, your child can face serious penalties ordered by a juvenile court.
It is of the utmost importance that your son or daughter is represented by an aggressive and highly knowledgeable defense lawyer if he or she has been accused of owning a gun illegally. Criminal attorney Darwin Overson has more than 16 years of experience handling thousands of cases in Utah. Call the law offices of Overson Law right away at (801) 758-2287 to arrange a free and completely confidential legal consultation.