Assaulting a police officer is considered a severe offense in Utah. Under Utah Code § 76-5-102.4, there are significant penalties if convicted of assaulting a police officer. The penalty imposed will depend on the severity of the injuries suffered by the officer. You need an attorney who is prepared to provide a vigorous defense and fight for your rights.
At Overson Law, PLLC you will receive proactive and skilled legal representation in Salt Lake City, UT. To discuss the details of your case, call (801) 823-6934 today. We offer a free and confidential consultation. Attorney Darwin Overson is available should you need a visit at a Salt Lake City detention center or county jail.
What to Know When Charged with Assaulting a Police Officer
- You can be charged with this crime even if the officer is not wearing a uniform. You can be charged as long as you know at the time of the assault that the person is in law enforcement and is acting “within the scope” of his or her authority.
- An off-duty police officer acts “within the scope” of his or her authority when acting in an official capacity.
- In Utah, officials under this statute include security guards and anyone whose capacity is that of a “peace officer.”
A police officer is not acting within the scope of his or her law enforcement capacity when he or she engages in a “personal frolic” or dispute. However, whenever an on- or off-duty officer acts to preserve law and order, that officer is considered to be operating within the scope of their duties.
Defenses for Charges of Assault on a Police Officer in Utah
A defense is essentially a reason why you were justified in your actions. While the prosecutors will try to establish that you assaulted the police officer, you can prove that you had a “defense” in that you were defending yourself or that you were too intoxicated to be aware your actions were directed at a police officer.
Self-Defense in Utah
Utah statutes explicitly define the concept of self-defense under Utah Code § 76-2-402(1), specifying you can invoke “self-defense” if justified in “using force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes the force is necessary to defend himself against the imminent use of force.”
With the help of your attorney, you can determine whether this is a viable defense in your situation and whether it was reasonable to defend yourself. A critical element of this defense is whether there was a sense of danger as defined under Utah Code § 76-2-402(5). A skilled attorney understands these concepts well and can help you tell your story and advocate as to your reasons for defending yourself.
Intoxication as a Defense in Utah
Utah’s intoxication defense is limited in that it’s only allowed in the types of crimes where the intoxication negates the mental state required for the crime. Utah Code § 76-2-306 provides that willingly taking drugs or drinking alcohol is not a valid legal defense unless the intoxicated state takes away an element of the crime.
In the case of assault of a police officer, you are required to “know” that the person you’re assaulting is a police officer. If at the time of the assault you couldn’t discern you were assaulting a police officer due to intoxication, your attorney may be able to help you establish a valid defense in your case.
Types of Assault on a Police Officer Classifications
The classification of assaulting a police officer is heightened when there is a “serious bodily injury.” According to Utah Code § 76-1-601, “serious bodily injury” creates or causes “serious permanent disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or creates a substantial risk of death.”
According to Utah Code § 76-5-102.4(2) through § 76-5-102.4(5), assault on a police officer is classified as follows:
- Class A misdemeanor: If a person commits an assault or threatens violence against a peace officer with “knowledge” that the person is a police officer. A Class A misdemeanor is considered a serious matter in Utah and is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Third-degree felony assault on a police officer: If there is a prior conviction for assault on a police officer or when a substantial bodily injury occurs. It’s punishable by up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
- First-degree felony assault on a police officer: If a dangerous weapon is used or any other means that can produce death or serious bodily injury. It’s punishable by anywhere from five years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
There is a mandatory sentence of at least 180 days in jail if this is your second assault on a police officer.
Call Salt Lake City Assault on a Police Officer Lawyer Darwin Overson Today
If you or someone you know was arrested for assaulting a police officer in Salt Lake City, UT, contact Darwin Overson immediately. Darwin is known for his indelible efforts to assist his clients effectively. No one wants to face prison time or stiff penalties for assaulting a peace officer. Attorney Darwin Overson will protect your constitutional rights and fight to establish your defense. Contact the law offices of Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 823-6934 for a free and confidential consultation.