If you or one of your family members has been charged with unlawful detention in Utah, it is crucial to contact a criminal defense lawyer right away for legal help. Unlawful detention charges can lead to months of jail time, plus cause you to be fined more than $1,000 in assorted fees, surcharges, and victim restitution. You will also gain a criminal record, which can create major hurdles when you are applying for jobs, looking for apartments, trying to earn professional licenses, applying to join the military, traveling overseas, or attempting to purchase firearms.
If you have been arrested for unlawful detention in Salt Lake City, seek legal help from a reputable attorney right away. At Overson Law, PLLC, we have more than 16 years of experience representing defendants charged with unlawful detention, unlawful detention of a minor, and related charges such as kidnapping. Contact us online right away to set up a free consultation, or call Overson, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.
How is Unlawful Detention Defined Under Utah Code 76-5-304?
The statute defining unlawful detention is Utah Code § 76-5-304. The same law also sets forth the criminal penalties for unlawful detention, which are discussed in detail below.
The law states that a person commits this offense when he or she intentionally, illegally “detains or restrains the victim,” without the victim’s consent, under circumstances that do not meet the definition for kidnapping (76-5-301) or child kidnapping (76-5-301.1). If the victim is a minor, meaning he or she was under the age of 18 when the crime allegedly took place, the offense is called “unlawful detention of a minor” under Utah Code § 76-5-304(2).
Unlawful Detention vs. Kidnapping
As stated above, unlawful detention is charged in scenarios where the defendant’s conduct – though still criminal – does not quite meet the legal criteria for kidnapping. The difference between unlawful detention and kidnapping is that the latter involves additional elements which make it a more serious crime.
For example, both offenses involve detaining or restraining someone against their will. If this continues for a “substantial period of time” or creates a risk of injury to the victim, the offense becomes kidnapping rather than unlawful detention. Other elements of a kidnapping offense include transporting the victim across state lines or forcing the victim to perform labor (“involuntary servitude”). If these elements are absent, unlawful detention may be charged instead.
Unlawful Detention and Domestic Violence (DV)
When unlawful detention or the unlawful detention of a minor occurs between members of the same family or household, it may be considered an act of domestic violence (DV), as provided by state law under Utah Code § 77-36-1(4)(k). Domestic violence crimes may be subject to penalty enhancements, or increased penalties, depending on the case.
Is Unlawful Detention a Felony or Misdemeanor?
Crimes in Utah, including unlawful detention, are labeled as either felonies or misdemeanors. This label is important because it indicates the severity of the crime – and in turn, affects how serious the penalties may be.
In Utah, there are three groups of misdemeanors (Class A, Class B, and Class C), plus three groups of non-capital felonies (first degree, second degree, and third degree). Class A misdemeanors and first degree felonies are the most serious in their respective categories, while Class C misdemeanors and third degree felonies are the least serious. However, any type of charge – even a Class C misdemeanor – can result in jail time, fines, and a criminal record. In addition to these consequences, a criminal history can also cause problems with employment, military service, travel, and gun ownership, among other issues.
Unlawful detention is a Class B misdemeanor, as established by Utah Code § 76-5-304(4).
What is the Penalty for Unlawful Detention in Utah?
The penalties for a Class B misdemeanor in Utah can include the following:
- A maximum sentence of up to six months in county jail
- A criminal fine of up to $1,000
Because unlawful detention is a Class B misdemeanor, convicted offenders may be eligible to perform “compensatory service,” which is unpaid labor or service, as an alternative to paying the $1,000 criminal fine. There are three types of organizations for which a convicted offender may perform compensatory service in Utah:
- Non-federal government agencies
- Non-profit organizations
- Any other type of organization, provided the court grants approval beforehand
Salt Lake City Unlawful Detention Defense Attorney
When you hire Darwin Overson to be your unlawful detention lawyer in Salt Lake City, you can expect aggressive, sophisticated legal representation focused on protecting your constitutional rights while minimizing the fallout from the charges against you. Darwin will fight tirelessly to uphold your innocence, mitigate criminal penalties, or potentially even have the charges against you dismissed.
However, to give yourself the best possible chance of a favorable case outcome, it is important to seek help immediately – before you lose more valuable time to start building your defense strategy. For a free legal consultation with defense attorney Darwin Overson, call our law offices at (801) 758-2287, or contact Overson Law online.