Can You Appeal an Assault Charge in Utah?

The outcome of a criminal conviction is a grave matter. A simple assault or aggravated assault conviction can lead to jail or prison time and heavy fines. Furthermore, a criminal conviction can cause you to lose certain privileges you would otherwise be entitled to. If you or a loved one was charged with assault in Utah, the moment to act is right now. Salt Lake City assault defense attorney Darwin Overson explains more about assault charges and your right to appeal your case after a conviction.

What is the Definition of Assault Under Utah Law?

The crime of assault involves several combined elements. According to Utah Code § 76-5-102, assault is an attempt to cause injury to another person using “unlawful force” and violence. If you are charged with simple assault, the prosecution will need to prove all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot prove all the elements of the crime, the defendant should be acquitted.

Alternatively, the prosecutor can prove that you acted with “unlawful force and violence” and caused injury or the risk of injury, regardless of your intent to cause harm through those actions.

Usually, assault is considered a class B misdemeanor, which is a lesser criminal offense. If convicted, you will face up to six months in jail plus hefty fines and court costs. However, an assault turns into a class A misdemeanor – which is more severe – if you cause “serious bodily injury” to the victim or you knowingly assaulted a pregnant victim. Penalties for a class A misdemeanor include up to one year in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.

Ultimately, your assault charge could be upgraded to “aggravated assault.” According to Utah Code § 76-5-103, aggravated assault refers to the use of violence to cause bodily injury to another person. It is also a “threat” in combination with “immediate force” to cause harm to the victim. The statute also includes other elements such as the use of a “dangerous weapon” and acts that may cause the victim to lose consciousness (e.g. “applying pressure to the neck or throat” of the victim).

Can I Appeal My Simple or Aggravated Assault Case?

If convicted for assault, you will likely face jail or prison time, plus fines and costs. However, you may still have a chance to get your sentence reviewed by a superior court or get a trial “de novo” – a new trial.

Utah has two primary types of trial courts. Justice courts or “county courts” are in charge of trying lesser criminal charges and infractions, such as class C misdemeanors, class B misdemeanors, and traffic tickets. District courts, on the other hand, are in charge of handling felony trials for charges such as murder and domestic violence.

Justice courts are not considered to be “courts of record,” which means procedures are not recorded in an official “record.” Appealing your case to a district court would mean you get a chance for a new trial that is “on the record.” You can usually appeal the justice court’s decision and get a new trial at the district court level as long as you file the appeal on time. This process is quite simple and gives you a second chance at proving your innocence.

Unlike justice courts, district courts are courts of record, which means the proceedings are recorded. Appealing a decision from a district court could require providing documented evidence supporting your request for an appeal. Therefore, this process may not be as straightforward when compared to appealing a decision made by a justice court. To appeal a decision made by a district court, you must go to a court of appeals.

The Court of Appeals is the intermediate court in charge of reviewing trial court decisions. The reviewing court will review your case and will make a final determination based on its findings. A criminal appeals lawyer can help you navigate through the entire appeals process.

Keep in mind your right to appeal your case is guaranteed by the constitution. Exercising your right to appeal might be the best chance you have to fight your criminal charges.

Assault Lawyer Representing Defendants in Salt Lake City, Utah

Though assault charges are considered misdemeanors, they should not be taken lightly. A criminal conviction can change the course of your life forever. Remember that after a conviction, you could still have a second chance to get your sentence reviewed by the appellate court. If you were charged with assault or aggravated assault in Utah, the moment to act is now. A skilled Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the complex appeals process. To set up a free, confidential consultation on your case, call to Overson Law today at (801) 758-2287.