Types of Homicide Charges in Utah

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

The State of Utah has several different categories of homicide. Criminal homicide in Utah can range from automobile homicide to aggravated murder. If you are being charged with criminal homicide in Utah, you should seek an experienced Salt Lake City homicide defense lawyer to represent you. Darwin Overson of Overson Law is here to discuss the varying types of homicide charges in Utah. To receive a free consultation, call us at (801) 758-2287.

8 Different Levels of Homicide Charges in Utah

Under Utah law, a person is guilty of criminal homicide if the person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, with criminal negligence, or acting with a mental state specified in the statute, causes the death of another person, including an unborn child. There are 8 different types of crimes which fall under criminal homicide, they are:

  1. Aggravated murder
  2. Murder,
  3. Manslaughter,
  4. Negligent homicide,
  5. Automobile homicide,
  6. Child abuse homicide,
  7. Homicide by assault, and
  8. Targeting law enforcement.

Under Utah law, a person commits aggravated murder when they intentionally or knowingly cause the death of another person under certain circumstances. One of these circumstances is if a prisoner commits a homicide in a jail or other correctional facility. Aggravated murder would also be charged if the killing was part of a plan to kill one or more additional victims. There are over a dozen other circumstances where aggravated murder may be charged in Utah.

Murder is charged when a person intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another person. Murder can also be charged when a person commits actions showing a depraved indifference to human life, which causes the death of another person.

Manslaughter charges cover situations where one person causes death through their own recklessness. That means participating in an action they knew or should have known was dangerous but continuing anyway. If this leads to someone’s death, it could be charged as manslaughter. Manslaughter also covers situations where the crime would otherwise be charged as murder, but there is some sort of “provocation” that reduces criminal intent. For instance, classic provocation examples include things like killing your spouse’s lover after discovering them in your spouse’s bed.

Negligent homicide charges occur when a person acts with criminal negligence and causes the death of another person. This is similar to the “recklessness” behind manslaughter, but “negligence” is a lower level of criminal intent.

Automobile homicide happens when a person operates a motor vehicle in a negligent manner and causes the death of another person. A person convicted of automobile homicide would receive increased penalties if they were under the influence of alcohol or a drug or both. Negligently causing death while using a cellphone or other wireless communication device while driving can also result in automobile homicide charges.

A person is guilty of child abuse homicide if the person causes the death of someone under 18 years old. A defendant will be convicted if the abuse was committed recklessly or with criminal negligence.

Homicide by assault occurs when someone causes the death of another person while intentionally or knowingly attempting, “with unlawful force or violence,” to cause harm or bodily injury to them.

“Targeting law enforcement” is when an individual exercises unlawful force and violence against a law enforcement officer, and that force or violence causes serious bodily injury or death. This offense is typically committed as part of violent social movements or terrorist acts.

Penalties for Murder Charges in Utah

There are several different penalties for homicide charges in the state of Utah. For example, murder is a first-degree felony which is punishable by life imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines. The other forms of homicide also carry serious penalties, like:

  • Child abuse homicide is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life imprisonment and $10,000 in fines if the child abuse was reckless.
  • Manslaughter is a second-degree felony with a penalty of up to 15 years in prison or $10,000 in fines or both.
  • Negligent child abuse homicide is a second-degree felony.
  • Automobile homicide and homicide by assault are both third-degree felonies. Therefore, both charges carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
  • Criminally negligent automobile homicide is a second-degree felony with a penalty of up to 15 years in prison or $10,000 in fines or both.
  • Negligent Homicide is a class A misdemeanor with a penalty of up to one year in prison and fine of $2,500, or both.
  • The penalty for targeting law enforcement is subject to change because of the Protect and Serve Act of 2018 that may be passed in Utah. The bill proposes a 10 year minimum for targeting law enforcement and life imprisonment for inflicting a serious or fatal injury to a law enforcement officer or a perceived law enforcement officer.

Salt Lake City, Utah Criminal Homicide Attorneys

If you are facing a criminal homicide charge in the State of Utah, you should speak with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer. Darwin Overson of Overson Law has over 16 years of experience handling criminal cases in Salt Lake City. Our firm has fought for residents across the region and is prepared to fight for you. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (801) 758-2287.


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