All criminal charges are serious matters, but charges related to violent crimes receive especially harsh scrutiny from courts and the general public. Criminal offenses are typically charged as lesser misdemeanors or serious felonies. While not all violent crimes are felonies, they are more likely to be charged as felonies than misdemeanors. As such, violent crimes are punished more harshly with longer prison terms and higher fines.
In general, simple assault is defined as the unlawful use of force or violence to cause bodily harm to another. Aggravated assault involves the use of a deadly weapon as well as the use of force or violence to cause bodily harm. Because the consequences associated with an assault conviction can be serious in Salt Lake City, those arrested on charges related to an assault should call our lawyers immediately. Do not speak with police officers without our attorneys, even if you are frustrated or confused by the reason for your arrest. Our lawyers can begin building your defense immediately and determine if your charges are may be subject to enhanced sentencing, which could result in more severe consequences for those convicted of assault charges in Salt Lake City.
To get a free assessment of your case from our Salt Lake City homicide defense attorneys, call Overson Law, PLLC now at (801) 758-2287.
Simple Assault in Salt Lake City Explained
Simple assault is the lowest form of an assault charge in Salt Lake City. Despite that, being arrested for and convicted of simple assault might still negatively impact your life, meaning that making a plan after being arrested is of the utmost importance.
Simple assault in Utah is defined as using unlawful force or violence in an effort to cause bodily harm or injury to someone else. It is also committed when someone uses unlawful violence or force to actually cause bodily or physical harm or create a significant risk of harm to another. Simple assault is generally charged as a class B misdemeanor but will be upgraded to a class A misdemeanor if the victim sustains bodily harm or the victim was pregnant, and the defendant knew of the pregnancy.
Simple assault may also be increased to a higher charge if the victim meets certain criteria. For example, if you commit an assault against a school employee while they are within the scope of their professional duties, and you are aware that they are indeed a school employee, your charges may be upgraded to a class A misdemeanor. The same goes for assaulting a peace officer or a member of the military. If you are facing an assault allegation, contact our lawyers for help. We will work to prevent your charges from being upgraded to something more serious in Salt Lake City.
When Simple Assault Becomes Aggravated Assault in Salt Lake City
Simple assault, while not a minor offense, is not quite as severe as aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is similar to simple assault, but it is far more dangerous and destructive. Understanding the difference will be important for any person facing assault charges in Salt Lake City.
According to Utah Code § 76-5-103(2), aggravated assault is an attempt to cause bodily harm to another by use of unlawful force, as mentioned above. However, aggravated assault typically occurs with some demonstration of immediate violence capable of causing harm. Aggravated assault also involves a dangerous weapon, such as a gun or a knife, or an action that hinders the victim’s breathing or blood flow, like choking. In severe situations, aggravated assault might turn to murder charges if a person dies because of injuries sustained in an attack.
The charges for aggravated assault are far more severe than those for simple assault. Aggravated assault may be charged as a felony of the third degree. However, much like simple assault, these charges can be upgraded under certain conditions. If the aggravated assault results in serious bodily harm or a loss of consciousness by the victim, the charges can be upgraded to a felony of the second degree. For any assault charges you might be confronted with, our attorneys can help explain the significance of the charges and how to best move forward with your defense in Salt Lake City.
What to Do if You Were Arrested for an Assault in Salt Lake City
Being arrested for an assault might be a confusing, emotional experience for individuals in Salt Lake City. Should this happen to you, there are specific steps you should follow to protect your future defense and case.
If you were arrested for charges related to a violent crime, the first thing you should do is call an experienced attorney for help. If possible, contact our attorneys immediately after being arrested and inform the police you will be invoking your right to remain silent until your attorney is present. You have a right to have a lawyer with you while the police question you after an arrest, no matter the reasons for the arrest. If you talk to the police without our assault defense attorneys present, you might misspeak and say something that harms your defense. It is always best to err on the side of caution and stay silent following an arrest in Salt Lake City.
Together, we can begin building a defense against any charges you face. The early stages of a criminal trial are crucial as you will be arraigned, enter a plea, and figure out bail. Having our lawyers by your side at each of these stages will improve your chances of success.
Penalties for Simple and Aggravated Assault Convictions in Salt Lake City
There are different penalties associated with simple and aggravated assault convictions in Salt Lake City. Because the consequences of an aggravated assault conviction are often much more serious, our lawyers will work to get the charges against you reduced or dropped so that you do not face unfair penalties.
Simple assault charges are usually class B misdemeanors, although they can be charged as class A misdemeanors if specific conditions are present. For class B misdemeanors, a convicted defendant can be punished by a prison sentence no longer than 6 months, according to Utah Code § 76-3-204(2). On the other hand, class A misdemeanor convictions are a bit more serious as defendants may be penalized with a prison term not exceeding 364 days.
Aggravated assault charges are typically felonies and the penalties are much harsher than those for simple assault. For example, according to Utah Code § 76-3-203(3), aggravated assault charged as a third-degree felony may be punished by a prison term of 5 years or less. Aggravated assault charged as a second-degree felony is punishable by a term in prison of at least one year but may not be longer than 15 years.
These penalties act as a guide for judges during sentencing. The specific facts of your case will also influence the exact term of your potential sentence. Get in touch with our assault defense attorneys for help understanding the possible penalties you might receive for a conviction in Salt Lake City.
There are also fines associated with assault convictions. For example, for a felony conviction of the first or second degree, defendants might be fined $10,000. For a felony conviction of the third degree, defendants might be fined $5,000. The fines for class A misdemeanor convictions may not exceed $2,500, and the fines for a class B misdemeanor conviction may not exceed $1,000, according to Utah Code § 76-3-301. Such fines emphasize the importance of addressing charges related to assault, as a conviction might not only lead to jail time but expensive fines for you and your family.
Assault Convictions and Your Gun Rights in Salt Lake City
In the State of Utah, anyone who commits a crime of domestic violence may be stripped of their gun ownership rights. Assault, when performed against someone like a romantic partner, spouse, or someone you live with, might constitute a domestic violence offense. A conviction of assault charges could land you behind bars and cause you to lose the right to buy and own a gun or firearm in Salt Lake City.
Many people own firearms because they feel they need them to protect themselves and their homes. However, there are many other reasons to own a gun that could be affected by your assault conviction. For example, if you were convicted of charges related to domestic violence in Salt Lake City, will no longer be able to own a gun for the purposes of hunting, target shooting, or other gun-related sports. If you are a member of law enforcement or the military, you may no longer be able to maintain your job if you are legally prohibited from owning a gun. An assault that turns into a domestic violence case can have a major impact on your rights, so call our lawyers for more information about how a conviction might impact your ability to own a gun in the future.
Enhanced Sentencing for Assault Charges in Salt Lake City
The penalties for felonies and misdemeanors mentioned previously tend to be more like a baseline when determining a final sentence. Certain offenses may be subject to enhanced penalties if the circumstances allow it in Salt Lake City.
After taking on your case, our lawyers can determine if enhanced sentencing rules might apply. In Utah, defendants convicted of certain assault charges might be subject to enhanced sentencing, meaning they might face more serious consequences than previously anticipated.
For example, according to Utah Code § 76-3-203.2, the use of a dangerous weapon in offenses committed near or on school premises might cause the charges against the defendant to automatically increase. For these specific cases where enhanced sentencing applies, a class B misdemeanor may be treated as a class A misdemeanor, a class A misdemeanor may be treated as felony of the third degree, and so on. Those convicted of first degree felony assault offenses may face a minimum of five years in prison when enhanced sentencing rules apply.
Enhanced sentencing might impact defendants in Utah charged with violent crimes involving a deadly weapon, hate crimes, violent crimes involving children, and domestic violence offenses, among others.
Different crimes may call for different methods of enhancing a sentence. For example, in cases involving the use of a weapon on school property, the charges are simply upgraded. Remember, there may be additional penalties for other crimes, such as restrictions on gun rights in cases of domestic violence. If you believe your case may involve an enhancement of penalties, call our lawyers immediately.
Preparing Your Defense Against Assault Charges in Salt Lake City
Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to helping individuals facing life-altering criminal charges take control of their lives and build a strong defense in Salt Lake City.
Assault cases can vary dramatically. Sometimes, the initial event might happen in front of eyewitnesses, who our lawyers can interview to obtain their statements. We can use eyewitness testimony as evidence in your case to show you were not present at the time of the assault or you did not engage in the assault as the prosecution alleges.
We can also use other evidence, such as physical evidence from the scene, surveillance footage, and additional examples of proof, to undermine the prosecution’s assertions that you assaulted someone.
Depending on the charges you are facing, we might attempt to negotiate with the prosecution for lesser charges with less serious penalties. This might enable you to avoid jail time altogether. If you were convicted of charges related to an assault in Salt Lake City, our lawyers may be able to get such charges expunged from your record. Utah’s Clean Slate Law automatically clears some misdemeanor convictions after a certain amount of time has passed. Once an assault charge is erased from your criminal record, no one will be able to see it, including any prospective employers or landlords that might check. Felony assault charges cannot be expunged in Utah.
Call Our Assault Defense Lawyers for a Legal Consultation in Salt Lake City
Call the assault defense attorneys of Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to get a free case assessment today.