Self-defense is a critical issue that often arises in criminal cases involving violent offenses, such as allegations of murder, simple assault, or aggravated assault. Utah’s laws allow homeowners to employ self-defense to protect their property from intruders, while additionally, Utahns may use self-defense to prevent certain felonies or to protect themselves and the people around them from immediate physical harm.
If you or one of your family members has been arrested for assault, murder, robbery, or other violent crimes in Salt Lake City or other parts of Utah, it is in your best interests to talk to a defense lawyer as soon as possible. Darwin Overson, the founder of Overson Law, PLLC, is a Salt Lake City criminal attorney for self-defense charges who has more than 16 years of experience handling felony and misdemeanor cases involving violent crimes. When you are facing criminal charges in Utah, rely on Darwin Overson for tireless legal representation. For a free legal consultation with Darwin, contact Overson Law online, or call 24 hours at (801) 733-1308.
When is Self-Defense Justified Under Utah Law?
Utah’s laws provide robust protections for homeowners and individuals who must resort to physical force to protect themselves, their property, or the people around them. However, there are still situations where an individual’s actions cross the line from justified self-defense to assault or murder. If you were accused of violent crimes against another individual, you need an attorney who is deeply familiar with Utah’s complex self-defense laws. These laws include:
- Utah Code § 76-2-401, which outlines “justified” conduct that can act as a “defense to prosecution”
- Utah Code § 76-2-402, which deals with force used “in defense of person” (meaning physical self-defense)
- Utah Code § 76-2-405, which deals with force used “in defense of habitation” (meaning in defense of your home)
- Utah Code § 76-2-406, which deals with force used “in defense of property” (including both real property and personal property)
- Utah Code § 76-2-407, which deals specifically with deadly force used “in defense of persons on real property”
Together, these laws describe situations where self-defense is justified, and to what extent. For example, it is generally lawful to defend yourself, but only if you have “reasonable” cause to believe that physical force would be necessary. To provide another example of Utah’s self-defense rules, the self-defense argument cannot be used if the defendant was in the process of committing or fleeing from a felony, such as burglary of another individual’s home.
Is Utah a “Stand Your Ground” State?
In some states, there is a legal requirement for individuals to retreat from the assailant, called the “duty to retreat,” before resorting to use of force. In Utah, homeowners do not have a duty to retreat. In fact, Utah lawmakers recently approved a proposal to strengthen the state’s “Stand Your Ground” laws, giving more rights to homeowners.
Can You Claim Self-Defense if You Start the Fight?
In most cases, a defendant cannot successfully claim self-defense if he or she instigated a fight or initiated an assault on the other person. However, it is essential to review the details carefully with an experienced self-defense attorney in Salt Lake City, since unique factors affect each case.
Penalties for Assault and Murder in Utah
Claims of self-defense typically arise in cases where the defendant has been accused of committing murder, assaulting another individual, or engaging in other violent crimes. Maximum penalties for some of these offenses are listed below, along with the accompanying statutes (state laws) and information about each crime’s “grading” or status as a felony or misdemeanor:
- Assault (“Simple” Assault)
- Statute – Utah Code § 76-5-102
- Grading – Class B misdemeanor or Class A misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances
- Sentence – Up to six months in jail (Class B misdemeanors); up to 364 days in jail (Class A misdemeanors)
- Fine – Up to $1,000 (Class B misdemeanors); up to $2,500 (Class A misdemeanors)
- Aggravated Assault
- Statute – Utah Code § 76-5-103
- Grading – Third degree felony, second degree felony, or first degree felony
- Sentence – Up to five years in prison (third degree felony); up to 15 years in prison (second degree felony); life sentence (first degree felony)
- Fine – Up to $5,000 (third degree felony); up to $10,000 (second or first degree felony)
- Statute – Utah Code § 76-5-203
- Grading – First degree felony
- Sentence – Possible life sentence with a minimum prison term of 15 years
- Fine – Up to $10,000
Salt Lake City Self-Defense Lawyer for Violent Crimes in Utah
If you or a family member used self-defense to protect yourself, another person, or your home from an attacker, it is vital to make sure that your side of story receives proper investigation. Arguing self-defense effectively could be the difference between keeping your freedom and going to jail.
Salt Lake City self-defense lawyer Darwin Overson is dedicated to upholding your rights, guiding you through the justice system, and fighting for reduced penalties. For a free consultation with Darwin, contact Overson Law online, or call 24 hours at (801) 733-1308.