Assault, commonly referred to as simple assault or aggravated assault (Utah Code 76-5-102), is charged in Utah when a threat of violence is made against a person to cause bodily harm unlawfully, or an act that causes injury or creates a substantial risk of harm to another person. There is a large range of penalties, from a Class B Misdemeanor to a 2nd Degree Felony, associated to an assault charge in Utah and vary depending on the circumstances, the degree of the victim’s injuries, and whether the victim(s) was a protected citizen such as a school worker, a healthcare provider, or a police officer.
The most common misconception associated with assault is that assault charges are exclusively tied to a physical punch or shove, but that is not necessarily the case.
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By Utah law, assault charges are “an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another” or “a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another.”
So, even if you “didn’t touch” the other person, if that big haymaker came up short, or you only spoke of your boxing prowess, you could still be charged with assault in the state of Utah.
Aggravated assault in Utah follows the same guidelines as assault, however, adding the “aggravated” means that the offense was accompanied by a substantial risk of bodily injury to another. This includes the use of a weapon (which is any item that can inflict bodily harm), any act that impedes the breathing or the circulation of blood of another person by the actor’s use of unlawful force or violence that is likely to produce a loss of consciousness; and other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury. An offender may cause serious bodily injury that results in grave harm, or legally “serious bodily injury” is deemed as an injury causing long-term or permanent disability, loss of limbs, or any other body part or a huge risk of death.
Under the Utah criminal act, simple assault is treated as a misdemeanor while aggravated assault as a felony.
In Utah, an assault charge can range from a Misdemeanor B to a 2nd Degree Felony.
- an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another
- a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
- an act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another
- the person causes substantial bodily injury to another; or
- the victim is pregnant and the person has knowledge of the pregnancy.
- the person uses a dangerous weapon, or
- other force or means likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.
And, finally, a 3rd Degree Felony Assault can become a 2nd Degree Felony Assault if it actually results in serious bodily injury. Also, there are several more “specific” kinds of assault, such as Assault Against an Officer, Assault of a School Employee, Assault by a Prisoner, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions About Assault Charges
- What Are The Possible Penalties for an Assault Conviction?:
- “But What If It Was Self Defense?”:
- What is Battery?:
- What is Aggravated Assault?:
Possible Penalties for an Assault Conviction
As stated above, it depends on the level of offense. Here’s a chart showing maximum penalties depending on the level:
- 2nd Degree Felony: 1-15 years in prison, $10,000 fine.
- 3rd Degree Felony: 0-5 years in prison, $5,000 fine.
- Misdemeanor A: 1 year in jail, $2,500 fine.
- Misdemeanor B: 6 months in jail, $1,000 fine.
It is unusual for judges to impose a “maximum” jail/prison sentence, but it is a possibility. More likely is some combination of jail/prison, community service, fines, probation, and possibly anger management classes.
“But What If It Was Self Defense?”
Utah law does provide a “defense” to the crime based on a claim of self defense, specifically: “A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that force or a threat of force is necessary to defend the person or a third person against another person’s imminent use of unlawful force.” See Utah Code 76-2-402.
If you have a self-defense claim, a key question will be whether or not your belief that you had to defend yourself was “reasonable.” This will be a matter for the jury (or sometimes the judge) to decide. Some of the relevant factors under the self-defense law are:
- the nature of the danger
- the immediacy of the danger;
- the probability that the unlawful force would result in death or serious bodily injury;
- the other’s prior violent acts or violent propensities; and
- any patterns of abuse or violence in the parties’ relationship.
It’s important to note that the defense may not work if you provoked the altercation or you were the “initial aggressor.” Typically, this is a very fact-specific determination that must be argued and resolved at a trial, so it helps to have a good assault attorney helping you out.
What is Battery?
Battery in Utah is the act of physically attacking someone. Sexual battery if the person intentionally touches, whether or not through clothing, the anus, buttocks, or any part of the genitals of another person, or the breast of a female, and the actor understands that his conduct will likely cause affront or alarm to the person touched.
Note: there isn’t a “battery” crime under Utah state statute (except for sexual battery), because the assault statute now includes things that were typically considered “battery.”
What is Aggravated Assault?
Aggravated assault in Utah is the same as assault but accompanied by a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and that includes the use of a dangerous weapon, any act that impedes the breathing or the circulation of blood of another person by the actor’s use of unlawful force or violence that is likely to produce a loss of consciousness; and other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury. An offender may cause serious bodily injury that results in grave harm, or legally “serious bodily injury” is deemed as an injury causing long-term or permanent disability, loss of limbs, or any other body part or a huge risk of death.
Both simple and aggravated assault attract severe criminal charges, mostly aggravated assault. Under the Utah criminal act, simple assault is treated as a misdemeanor while aggravated assault as a felony.
The use of dangerous weapons as described Under the Utah Law § 76-1-601(5), is any item capable of causing grave injury or death. Counterfeit weapons used against victims who believe them to be a real threat also fall into this category.