If you have been charged with stalking in Utah, or if one of your loved ones or family members was arrested for stalking, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. Stalking is a felony in certain situations, and a conviction could result in devastating fines, incarceration, and a permanent criminal record.
Schedule a Free Legal Consultation with a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney
A person can be charged with stalking under Utah Code § 76-5-106.5 when he or she follows a course of conduct aimed at a specific person, despite knowing or having reason to know that doing so would evoke fear and/or emotional distress in the victim. “Course of conduct” can have many meanings, including:
- Physically approaching a person.
- Showing up at the person’s home or place of employment.
- Sending mail to the person’s home or place of employment, including email messages and text messages.
- Contacting the person’s neighbors.
A stalking conviction can alter your future and deprive you of important opportunities. Don’t wait to start reviewing your legal options. Call Salt Lake City stalking defense attorney Darwin Overson at (801) 758-2287 right away for a free and confidential legal consultation.
How Do You Bail a Suspect Out of Jail in Utah?
A criminal suspect may be held in custody in a county jail or other holding center for up to 72 hours while the prosecutor determines whether charges will be filed. While prosecutors often request and are granted long extensions to this time limit, such extensions are unconstitutional and should be disputed on every occasion.
In most cases, suspects can be released from jail if they are able to post a certain payment, which is called bail. The detainee’s bail amount is determined by the judge, who refers to a chart called Utah’s Uniform Bail Schedule. The more serious the crime being alleged, the more money bail can cost. Having a criminal record can also cause the bail amount to increase.
Some people qualify for cost-free bail, which is called Release on Recognizance (OR or ROR). In order to be eligible for ROR, the person must not be a danger to public safety, must not be at risk of fleeing from the police, and should have strong community ties.
Every correctional facility has its own strict and specific set of rules explaining how, where, and when bail may be posted. However, generally speaking you may post bail in the exact amount directly at the facility. If bail is not cash-only, you may be able to use a bond, which will allow you to pay a small fraction of the upfront cost in exchange for assuming financial liability should the defendant fail to appear in court in the future.
Criminal Penalties for Felonies and Misdemeanors: Fines and Sentencing
Like most states, Utah separates criminal offenses into two categories: lesser offenses called misdemeanors, and very serious offenses called felonies. While misdemeanors carry lighter maximum penalties, both are capable of resulting in steep fines and many months of incarceration. Both also create criminal records, which can be major obstacles against employment, housing, lending, professional licenses, and other opportunities.
Stalking can be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the specific details of the incident being alleged. For example, stalking is a misdemeanor when it is the defendant’s first offense, or when the defendant has violated a stalking injunction. However, stalking is a felony when the defendant:
- Has prior stalking convictions (including any out-of-state crimes that are equivalent to stalking).
- Has any prior felony convictions.
- Lived with the victim at the time of the offense.
- Violated a permanent stalking injunction.
- Used a weapon while committing the crime (which may lead to additional weapons charges).
Misdemeanors are divided into three groups called “classes”: Class C, Class B, and Class A. When charged as a misdemeanor, stalking is a Class A misdemeanor, the most serious type. Offenses above Class A misdemeanors are felonies. The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor in Utah may include a fine of up to $2,500 and/or up to one year in jail.
Felonies are also divided into three groups: third degree felonies, second degree felonies, and first degree felonies. Stalking may be charged as a third or second degree felony. The penalties for these types of felonies may include:
- Third Degree Felony
- Fine — Up to $5,000
- Sentence — Up to 5 years in prison
- Second Degree Felony
- Fine — Up to $10,000
- Sentence — Up to 15 years in prison
If you were charged with felony stalking in Utah, you need to move quickly in order to give yourself the best chance of beating the charges. To set up a free legal consultation, call Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson at (801) 758-2287. Darwin is available to make emergency visits to jails and detention centers throughout the state.