If you get into a fight, the police are likely going to arrest the people involved first and sort things out later. Officers will not dive into questions like “Who started it?” or “Why did this happen?” until after arrests have been made. You might still be prosecuted in a criminal court even if you believe you are not to blame.
An assault charge can have serious criminal penalties attached. For aggravated assaults, you could face penalties of up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. It is important to get a hold of an lawyer when facing those kinds of charges so that you have the legal representation you might need.
If you or a loved one are facing an assault charge, call our assault defense lawyers at Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 to discuss your case.
Simple Assault in Draper, UT
Assault is broken down into two levels of crime: simple assault and aggravated assault. Our assault defense lawyers can help with both of these types of charges. Although they can both result in fines and imprisonment, simple assault is the less serious of the two charges.
What is Simple Assault?
Utah Code § 76-5-102 defines simple assault as unlawfully causing bodily injury to another person with violence. For example, if you get into a fistfight in a bar and give someone a black eye, that could be considered simple assault.
An attempt to cause bodily injury is also simple assault. For example, if you get into that same barroom fistfight, but your opponent comes out of the altercation uninjured, you can still be charged with simple assault. What matters is that you attempted to hurt the other person. You could be prosecuted for simple assault even if all the punches you throw miss their mark – or even if you pull back your fist but never end up throwing the punch.
If someone’s conduct creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another, that also could be considered simple assault in Utah. This type of conduct is different from the prior two kinds of simple assault because you do not necessarily need to be actively trying to hurt someone. For example, let’s say you are walking down a crowded sidewalk in a hurry, and along the way, you shove someone out of your path and into a street during rush hour. This would be simple assault even though your conduct did not necessarily injure the other pedestrian; it still created a substantial risk of bodily injury because they could have been hit by a car.
Penalties for Simple Assault
You can go to jail for simple assault in Utah, and it is important to take any assault charges seriously.
Simple assault is often a misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanors have a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and a six-month jail sentence, while class A misdemeanors have a maximum of a $2,500 fine and a 364-day jail sentence.
Some circumstances can increase the penalties for simple assault. For example, simple assault can be upgraded to a class A misdemeanor if the assault does actually cause substantial bodily injury. Similarly, the simple assault charge gets changed to class A if you assault someone you know is pregnant.
An assault can also be upgraded to a class A misdemeanor if the assault is against a member of the United States Military, law enforcement, or national guard while the service member is in uniform on duty. This could be further upgraded to a felony if either the harm done was substantial or the assault was done with a deadly weapon or another item likely to cause serious injury.
Draper, UT, Aggravated Assault
More serious assault charges fall under the category of aggravated assault. All aggravated assault charges are felonies. Being convicted of a felony has serious consequences. For example, many employers do not hire felons, and you will be prohibited by law from owning firearms.
What is Aggravated Assault?
In Utah, aggravated assault is an assault that uses a dangerous weapon or other means to cause serious bodily injury to another, attempts to strangle or choke someone, or attempts to cause serious bodily injury or a show of force indicating an intent to do the same.
An example of a show of force sufficient to be considered aggravated assault would be brutally smashing a flower pot with a baseball bat, then pointing to someone and screaming, “You’re next!”
Dangerous or Deadly Weapons
A dangerous weapon is any object capable of causing serious bodily injury or death. This includes not just actual weapons like firearms but also everyday items that could still be used to hurt someone. A baseball bat or a kitchen knife are classic examples of dangerous weapons.
A fake weapon is treated as if it were real if it is used to make the victim think they are in peril. For example, if someone mugs someone using a fake gun, the replica firearm will be considered a dangerous weapon for the purpose of an assault charge.
Aggravated Assault Penalties
Aggravated assault has much more serious penalties attached than simple assault. Unlike simple assault, which in many circumstances is a misdemeanor, aggravated assault is always a felony.
Aggravated assault that results in serious bodily injury or strangulation resulting in loss of consciousness is a second-degree felony carrying a maximum fine of $10,000 and a minimum one and maximum 15-year prison sentence.
Aggravated assault targeting a law enforcement officer that results in serious bodily injury is a first-degree felony. To be considered an assault targeting a law enforcement officer, it must be directed at a police officer on purpose. For example, running over a patrolling police officer in a car with “I hate cops” spray painted onto the side would be aggravated assault targeting an officer. Purposefully running over someone who merely happens to be a cop is not an assault targeting a police officer, although that would still likely be aggravated assault.
First-degree felonies can result in up to $10,000 in fines or a minimum sentence of five years in prison. A first-degree felony can result in life in prison.
Claiming Self-Defense for Assault Charges in Draper, UT
The primary defense to an assault charge in Utah is self-defense. To claim self-defense, you must successfully argue in court that you reasonably thought that force was required to defend either yourself or another person. If you caused serious bodily injury or the death of another, you can only claim self-defense if you reasonably believed that death or serious bodily injury would happen to yourself or someone else.
There is no bright-line rule for what type of conduct is self-defense and what is not. You must convince a court that the circumstances made your actions self-defense. Additionally, claiming self-defense is what is called an affirmative defense. An affirmative defense is when you admit you committed the act in question but at the same time claim that the circumstances of your situation are such that you should not be convicted.
Call Our Draper, UT Lawyers Today
Do not hesitate to contact our assault defense lawyers at Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 to talk about your case.