Is Hitting a Police Officer a Felony in Utah?

The consequences for hitting a police officer in Utah can be dire. Hitting a police officer is a serious crime and, depending on the circumstances, can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony assault. If you expect to face charges for hitting a police officer in Utah, it’s important for you to understand the severity of the crime. If you would like to know more about whether hitting a police officer in Utah is a felony, what constitutes assault in Utah, and how the Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys from Overson & Bugden can help you if you find yourself facing charges for hitting a police officer, please continue reading.

Assault According to Utah Law

Hitting a police officer is a form of assault, according to Utah law. A person may be charged with assault if they threaten to cause, attempt to cause, or cause injury to someone else. There are two categories of assault in Utah: simple assault and aggravated assault, both of which carry severe penalties. According to Utah Code, simple assault is when someone attempts to inflict physical injury on another person through violence or unlawful use of force. Aggravated assault is when a person intentionally causes or attempts to cause severe bodily injury to someone else or uses a weapon to inflict grave bodily injury on another person.

While both criminal offenses have similar elements, they are treated separately. Courts will generally look at the extent of the offense to determine whether it is a simple or aggravated assault case. Utah Code uses different terms to make such a distinction. For instance, the law uses terms such as “bodily injury” (physical pain, impairment, etc.) and “substantial injury” (long-term disfigurement, pain, or loss of body part, etc.) to distinguish between simple assault and aggravated assault respectively.

When Is Assaulting or Hitting a Police Officer Considered a Felony in Utah?

Assault charges can be made against anyone, regardless of whether the victim is a civilian or a police officer. Hitting or assaulting a police officer can almost guarantee more stringent penalties—an act of assault that would normally be considered simple assault can be instantly elevated to aggravated assault if the act of assault was committed against a police officer.

To understand the severity of an aggravated assault charge in Utah, it’s important to understand the difference between felonies and misdemeanors and their different subcategories. Misdemeanor charges are less severe than felony charges and carry less severe penalties. There are three types of misdemeanors: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A misdemeanors are the most serious and can result in longer jail sentences and steeper fines. There are three types of felonies in Utah: first-degree, second degree, and third degree. Third-degree felonies are the least severe while first-degree penalties are the most severe—first-degree penalties can carry penalties including life in prison, among others.

Police officers (and other professionals, such as healthcare providers) benefit from additional protections according to Utah law. Committing offenses against police officers and other professionals can result in harsher penalties for the person that committed the offense. Assault against a police officer that results in serious bodily injury, for example, can result in second-degree felony assault charges.

Penalties for Assaulting a Police Officer in Utah

The penalties you can expect to face for assaulting a police officer in Utah depend on the circumstances of your case, in addition to any mitigating and aggravating factors. Regardless of the circumstances, assaulting a police officer will almost always be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor for assaulting a police officer, your penalties will depend on which class your charge falls into. A Class C misdemeanor can result in 90 days in jail and up to $750 in fines. Class B misdemeanors result in up to six months in jail and a maximum of $1,000 in fines while a Class A misdemeanor can result in up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.

If you assault a police officer and are charged with a felony assault, the penalties will depend on the degree of the offense. A third-degree felony can result in up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. A second-degree offense in Utah is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines while a first-degree felony can result in life in prison without parole and as much as $10,000 in fines.

Charges are aggravated if the victim of the assault suffered bodily injury, was a pregnant woman, the offense was particularly cruel, or the defender is a repeat offender. If the defendant has developmental issues that prevent them from knowing the consequences of their actions, it can be considered a mitigating factor that can reduce their overall penalties. Regardless of the circumstances of your case, you can work to reduce your charges and penalties by working with an experienced Salt Lake City assault defense attorney, who can craft a legal defense for you as you work together to fight your misdemeanor or felony assault charges.

Contact Our Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney for a Free Consultation If You Hit a Police Officer

If you or a loved one was charged with assaulting a police officer in Utah, there is no time to waste. The prosecutors in your case will work hard to convict you. However, they need to prove all the elements of your alleged offense. Our dedicated Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys at Overson Law PLLC will fight tirelessly, aggressively, and strategically to make sure your rights as a defendant are upheld at all times.  We can also guide you through the entire process. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our skilled, dedicated attorneys, call our law offices today at (801) 758-2287.