Simple assault and aggravated assault are both serious criminal charges, particularly the latter. Under Utah’s criminal laws, simple assault is a misdemeanor, and aggravated assault is a felony. A conviction of either can result in incarceration, expensive fines, and other penalties. A conviction can also make it difficult or impossible to own a gun, find a job, and enjoy other privileges and opportunities in life.
If you have been charged with simple or aggravated assault in Utah, it is critical that you immediately retain a Salt Lake assault lawyer to defend your reputation and your freedom. Utah criminal attorney Darwin Overson has represented thousands of defendants, and has more than 16 years of experience handling misdemeanor and felony assault charges. If you or a family member was arrested for assault in Utah, call Darwin right away at (801) 895-3143 for a free legal consultation.
Were You Arrested for Simple Assault in Salt Lake City?
In the state of Utah, the crime of simple assault is defined by Utah Code § 76-5-102. Under this statute, there are two scenarios which are grounds for simple assault charges in Utah:
- Making an attempt to cause physical injury to another individual, through either violence or unlawful use of force.
- Causing physical injury to another individual, or creating a major risk of physical injury to another individual, through use of violence or unlawful force.
As the statute makes clear, a person does not have to actually, physically assault another individual in order for their actions to be considered assault. A mere attempt to inflict injury can potentially lead to criminal charges.
Under Utah Code § 76-5-102(2), the crime of simple assault is generally categorized as a Class B misdemeanor. This type of crime is punishable by:
- Up to six months in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
However, there are also two scenarios in which simple assault is a Class A misdemeanor, which has harsher penalties. Under Utah Code § 76-5-102(3), simple assault is a Class A misdemeanor when a person either:
- Causes “substantial” physical injury to another person.
- Knowingly and deliberately assaults a pregnant woman.
In Utah, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by:
- Up to one year in jail
- Up to $2,500 in fines
Compared with a Class B misdemeanor, the maximum jail sentence doubles, and the maximum fine is more than twice as large.
Was a Family Member Charged with Aggravated Assault in Utah?
Aggravated assault, which is defined by Utah Code § 76-5-103, is a more serious offense than simple assault. Under this statute, a person can be arrested for aggravated assault in Salt Lake City when he or she either causes injury, attempts to cause injury, or threatens to cause injury (if there is a “show of immediate force or violence”), and also does one of the following:
- Uses a dangerous weapon. Under Utah Code § 76-1-601(5), a “dangerous weapon” is any item which can cause death or serious injury, or even a fake weapon which the victim believes to be a real threat.
- Takes an action likely to result in death or serious injury. Legally speaking, “serious bodily injury” means an injury that causes major permanent disfigurement, the long-term impairment or loss of a body part or function, or a major risk of death.
Under Utah Code § 76-5-103(2)(a), aggravated assault is generally a felony of the third degree, which in Utah is punishable by:
- Up to five years in prison
- Up to $5,000 in fines
However, if the victim sustains serious physical injury, aggravated assault is a second degree felony, and the penalties become more severe, reaching potential maximums of:
- Up to 15 years in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Will a Domestic Violence or Assault Conviction Affect My Gun Rights?
When assault is committed against a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, family member, or other cohabitant, it is considered to be an act of domestic violence, which can have dire consequences for the defendant. Any resident of Utah who is charged with committing a crime of domestic violence loses their gun privileges for life, such as ownership and purchase. This includes the use of a gun related to:
- Law Enforcement
- Military Service
- Target Shooting
If a member of law enforcement or the military is charged with assault that involves an element of domestic violence, they will be discharged from serving. For police officers and members of the U.S. Armed Forces, an assault conviction can be the end of a promising career. Moreover, if an individual who has already lost their gun privileges as a penalty for domestic violence is found to be in possession of a gun, or even ammunition, he or she can be charged with a felony, leading to additional penalties.
Contact an Experienced Salt Lake County Defense Lawyer for a Free Consultation
According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, during the first six months of 2012, there were over 1,600 incidences of aggravated assault alone. Compare that with the numbers for other violent crimes: just over 500 for robbery, 400 for rape, and about a dozen for homicide.
But just because assault is common, doesn’t mean it’s a trivial crime. As the previous sections discussed, assault convictions in the state of Utah can lead to months or even years of incarceration, as well as thousands of dollars in criminal fines. Additionally, having an assault conviction on your record may interfere with employment, or even eligibility for certain housing or loans.
Misdemeanor convictions are serious, and the ramifications of a felony conviction are even worse. If you are facing allegations of assault, aggravated assault, domestic violence, or other violent crimes in Salt Lake City or other parts of Utah, don’t wait until it’s too late to get legal help.
Call the law offices of Overson & Sheen right away at (801) 895-3143 to set up a free, completely confidential legal consultation. We are able to make emergency visits to holding centers and county jails throughout Utah.