If you, your spouse, or your son or daughter has been arrested for firing a gun in Salt Lake City or other areas of Utah, you need an aggressive gun crimes lawyer to defend your liberties. Quality legal representation gives you the best chance of receiving a reduced sentence, having the charges dropped, or being acquitted (found not guilty).
To set up a free legal consultation with a Utah defense attorney with over 16 years of experience, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 758-2287. Though based in Salt Lake City, Darwin handles felony gun charges throughout the state of Utah.
When is it a Crime to Fire or Shoot a Gun Under Utah Code 76-10-508.1?
Compared to many other states, Utah has lenient gun laws. However, certain gun-related offenses are still subject to very harsh penalties if a defendant is convicted. One example of such a crime is felony discharge of a firearm, which can lead to many years of prison time in addition to financially devastating criminal fines. A conviction of this offense will also lead to the loss of the defendant’s gun privileges.
However, before discussing the criminal penalties, it is vital to explain how this offense is defined under Utah’s criminal laws. As a defendant, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of the actions you are being accused of committing.
Felony discharge of a firearm is defined by Utah Code § 76-10-508.1. This statute does not apply to people who fire a gun:
- For professional or lawful purposes (e.g. practicing at a shooting range, hunting with an appropriate permit, going through a training exercise for police officers).
- In lawful self-defense.
- In the lawful defense of other people.
Where applicable, the above exceptions may be raised as legal defenses to charges alleging felony discharge of a firearm.
The statute also does not apply to people who fire weapons from a highway area or a vehicle, a crime which is charged under a different statute (Utah Code § 76-10-508). Outside of these exceptions, it is generally a felony to fire a gun in Utah, be it a shotgun, handgun, rifle, or other type of firearm.
What Are the Penalties for a Felony Weapons Crime in Salt Lake City?
As the name of the offense makes clear, discharging a firearm in Utah is generally a felony unless the person is charged with a lesser offense or has a legal justification for shooting, such as acting in self-defense.
A felony is a much more serious type of crime than a misdemeanor, not only in terms of the penalties that can be imposed by Utah’s District Courts, but also in terms of the stigma around felonies. While misdemeanors may not necessarily raise alarms for employers, a felony record often leads to discrimination when seeking jobs, loans, and other opportunities. Additionally, a felony will cause greater loss of rights and privileges, including the loss of your gun privileges.
There are three types of felonies in Utah: third degree felonies (which are one step above misdemeanors), second degree felonies, and first degree felonies, which have the most severe penalties.
Felony discharge of a firearm can receive any of these classifications. It is a first degree felony when firing the weapon results in “serious bodily injury,” defined as an injury that creates permanent disfigurement, long-term loss of a body part or function, or major risk of death. It is a second degree felony when the shot results in less severe injuries. It is a felony of the third degree when the defendant fires the gun:
- In any person’s direction, if the defendant knows or has cause to believe that someone’s safety could be jeopardized.
- In the direction of a person or a “habitable structure” (such as a house, apartment, trailer, boat, or airplane), if the defendant acts with “intent to intimidate or harass.”
- In the direction of a car, truck, or other vehicle, if the defendant acts with “intent to intimidate or harass.”
The criminal penalties for each type of felony are described below.
- Utah Third Degree Felony Penalties
- Sentence — 3 years minimum, up to 5 years
- Fine — Up to $5,000
- Utah Second Degree Felony Penalties
- Sentence — 3 years minimum, up to 15 years
- Fine — Up to $10,000
- Utah First Degree Felony Penalties
- Sentence — 5 years to life in prison
- Fine — Up to $10,000
If you are convicted, you will become what is known as a “restricted person,” meaning you will be prohibited from buying, using, or possessing a firearm.
Arrested for Discharge of a Firearm? Contact an Experienced Utah Defense Lawyer
Utah discharge of a firearm lawyer Darwin Overson has more than 16 years of experience handling thousands of criminal cases, including a wide range of gun crimes. Darwin brings expansive knowledge of Utah’s gun laws and prior cases to every legal matter he handles, and has obtained favorable outcomes for many clients who were in danger of facing long prison sentences.
Darwin handles felony gun crimes in Salt Lake County, Summit County, Wasatch County, Cache County, Weber County, Utah County, and other locations in Utah. To set up a confidential and completely free legal consultation with Darwin, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 today.