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Utah Criminal Code 76-5-103.5

Utah Criminal Code 76-5-103.5

Utah Criminal Code 76-5-103.5: Aggravated Assault By Prisoner

Any prisoner who commits aggravated assault not amounting to a violation of Section 76-3-203.6 is guilty of:
1. a second degree felony if no serious bodily injury was intentionally caused;  or
2. a first degree felony if serious bodily injury was intentionally caused.
Terms Used In Utah Code 76-5-103.5
• Bodily injury: means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.
• Felony: A crime carrying a penalty of more than a year in prison.
• Serious bodily injury: means bodily injury that creates or causes serious permanent disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or creates a substantial risk of death.

Aggravated assault is an attempt to cause serious bodily harm to an individual with disregard for human life. Factors that raise an assault to the aggravated level typically include the use of a weapon, the status of the victim, the intent of the perpetrator, and the degree of injury caused. States classify certain assaults as aggravated under their criminal codes. They may also use more specific names such as assault with a deadly weapon. Often, aggravated assaults qualify as felonies, while simple assaults can be misdemeanors. Many states have multiple degrees of criminal charges for aggravated assault.

Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Use of a deadly weapon during an assault constitutes aggravated assault. This applies whether or not the weapon causes physical injury to anyone. Basic assault does not require physical harm, but rather that the perpetrator behaves in a way intended to put someone in reasonable fear for their safety. Someone who does this by threatening the person with a deadly weapon commits aggravated assault because the fear involved is fear of more grievous injury. Weapons classified as deadly weapons typically include things which could cause death or serious injury. Some weapons fit this bill including guns. Whether or not other objects constitute deadly weapons depends on the manner in which they are used in the assault. For example, a pocket knife is generally not considered a lethal weapon, but if held to a victim’s neck, it could be deadly.

The Identity of the Victim

Some assaults become aggravated depending on the status of the victim. For example, many states punish assault on police officers, fire fighters and even teachers as aggravated assault. Typically, for such an assault to rise to the level of aggravated the victim must have been performing his or her duty when assaulted and the perpetrator must have known of the victim’s status. In addition to possible punishment for aggravated assault, assaults on members of certain protected classes can constitute hate crimes. These can include assaults based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim.

Intent of the Perpetrator

The mental state of the perpetrator can also push an assault from simple assault to aggravate. If he or she acted with the intent to cause severe harm or fear of severe harm, an assault can become aggravated. Depending on the state, reckless behavior can also constitute aggravated assault for example when someone acts with reckless indifference to human life, but without the specific intent to injure any particular person. If a dangerous or deadly weapon is involved, an assault may become aggravated even without any specific intent to injure.

Degree of Injury to the Victim

More serious injuries to the victim can cause an assault to become an aggravated level. In most states, assaults causing serious bodily injury qualify as aggravated assaults. The seriousness of an injury will vary greatly from case to case. Injuries threatening death will qualify as a serious injury, as will those which maim or disfigure the victim. Some states specify by statute particular injuries that qualify as serious. If a method of assault which would normally cause death only causes more minor physical injury, some states will still punish it as aggravated assault (or even attempted homicide). Sexual assaults usually qualify as their own type of assault, but depending on the state, could be charged as assault/battery, sexual assault, aggravated assault or rape.

Simple and Aggravated Assault Laws and Penalties

Assault is a crime of violence, which is defined differently from one state to another.
• Assault as physical connection: Some states define assault as the intentional use of force or violence against another, such as punching a person or striking the victim with an object. (A few states even lump assault and battery into one crime, which is defined as a physical attack.) Under this approach, an “attempted assault” is an act that intends to physically harm the victim, but fails or falls short. For example, swinging at someone but missing would be an attempted assault.
• Assault as an attempt to physically touch: In other states, assault does not involve actual physical contact, and is defined as an attempt to commit a physical attack, or as threatening actions that cause a person to feel afraid of impending violence. In these states, when the attempt succeeds, the resulting crime is a battery. Under this approach, there is no such crime as an “attempted assault,” because the assault itself is an attempt. Verbal threats are usually not enough to constitute an assault for this second approach. Some action such as raising a fist or moving menacingly toward a victim usually is required. In these states, threatening to hurt someone while walking toward him with a clenched, raised fist would constitute assault.

The Victim’s Fear

In states that define assault as placing a victim in fear of violence, the victim’s response must not only be genuine but reasonable under the circumstances. The test normally is whether the defendant’s actions would cause a reasonable person to be in fear of an immediate physical attack. In other words, the victim’s response must be one that you’d expect from any reasonable person in the victim’s position.
Examples of aggravated assault include:
• striking or threatening to strike a person with a weapon or dangerous object
• shooting a person with a gun or threatening to kill someone while pointing a gun at the victim
• assault with the intent to commit another felony crime such as robbery or rape
• assault resulting in serious physical injury
• assault (threat of violence) while concealing one’s identity, and
• assault against a member of a protected class, such as a police officer, healthcare provider, social services worker, or developmentally disabled or elderly person.
Proving the Case and Possible Defenses
In order for a defendant to be convicted of aggravated assault, the prosecutor or district attorney must prove every aspect of the crime (called the “elements” of the crime) beyond a reasonable doubt, including the act of assault and the elements that made the assault “aggravated.” The prosecutor must prove that the defendant intentionally threatened an attack and caused the victim fear, or that the defendant attempted or accomplished a physical attack. The prosecutor also must prove the facts that make the assault aggravated either that the defendant used a deadly weapon, concealed his identity, inflicted serious personal injury, committed the assault with the intent of committing some other serious crime, or that the victim was a member of a protected class, such as a police officer, school employee or an elderly or other vulnerable person.


Defendants charged with aggravated assault have the usual defenses available to all criminal defendants, starting with “You’ve got the wrong person, it wasn’t me.” In addition, a defendant can claim self defense or defense of others and present evidence that the alleged victim initiated the confrontation and that the defendant was defending himself or another person from the alleged victim’s attack. That defense may take the form of showing that a weapon actually was in the victim’s possession or that the victim made the first threat or struck the first blow. Other possible defenses are that the defendant’s actions were purely accidental and that he had no criminal intent; or an insanity defense, in which the defense argues that the accused is mentally ill and did not have the capacity to control his behavior or to understand what he was doing or that his actions were unlawful.

Factors that judges consider

In determining a sentence, judges usually consider the defenses presented at trial, whether the defendant has taken responsibility for the crime and shows remorse, circumstances surrounding the crime, the extent of any injuries incurred, the type of weapon used, the accuser’s prior criminal record and, in some situations, the victim’s background or relationship to the defendant.

Sentence enhancement

In some states, assault against a special victim like a police officer or elderly person carries more severe penalties or is subject to sentence enhancement, which permits the court to add extra time to the sentence for the underlying crime. In many states, there also are more severe penalties or sentencing enhancement provisions if the deadly weapon used in an assault or battery is a firearm. Finally, in some states, the penalties are even more severe for certain types of firearms such as automatic weapons, machine guns, or guns that shoot metal-resistant bullets.

Legal Representation

Aggravated assault is a very serious felony charge; a conviction for this crime can seriously impact your life. You could face a lengthy prison sentence and the stigma of being a convicted felon. Convicted felons cannot vote or possess firearms and often have difficulty finding employment. A competent criminal defense attorney can help you fight an aggravated assault charge, protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome. An attorney will thoroughly investigate your case, aid you in asserting any possible defenses, and guide you through the criminal court process.


The most obvious way to find out if charges are being pressed is when you’re arrested, taken to the police station, and booked: your fingerprints are taken, among other requirements. You may be jailed to remain in police custody. You have a right to a criminal defense attorney, either your own or one assigned to you to represent your interests. You then appear before the judge may temporarily release you by setting bail or other terms. The judge tells you when to return for your next hearing. In the meantime, the police investigate the circumstances of your arrest and provide any evidence to the prosecutor. This process becomes part of your criminal record.

Before the Arrest

However, before the arrest, someone may have pressed charges against you, and the police are under no obligation to tell you if that has happened. If their investigation produces evidence of a criminal offense, it is the district attorney (DA)’s office who files a complaint and serves you notice to appear in court. The only way you’ll know about this is when papers arrive in the mail or a summons has been hand-delivered to you by another person. To find out if any paperwork is coming to you in the mail, you can contact the local criminal court and ask the clerk if any pending cases, warrants, or court dates have been filed.

Ask the Police

You can also contact your local police department to run a warrant check on you, which uncovers any charges filed against you. Keep in mind that you have no rights to be informed of an ongoing investigation. This ensures that you do not hinder the police from performing their duties and do not harass victims and witnesses. You do have the right to see police reports so that you know what you are being accused of. If charges have been filed against you, you can ask for a copy of the police report through the DA’s office. This report contains such information as the names of all people involved, incident description, and date and place of the incident. Certain information may be redacted (blacked out) to protect the privacy of the person who brought the charges.

Different Types of Assault

In legal terms, assault is the threat or attempt to physically touch or strike a person in an offensive manner, regardless of whether contact is actually made. It only occurs if the victim is aware of the threatened touching and is apprehensive about it occurring imminently. Being afraid that someone might at some point offensively touch the victim in the future is not sufficient. The element for civil assault is basically the same as criminal assault, except that the victim must show the actual damages resulting from the assault in order to recover monetary compensation for their injury.

Types of Assault

• Simple assault is what was described above. It can occur whether or not a weapon is used and whether or not the victim suffers any physical injuries or only minor harm.
• Felonious / aggravated assault is distinguished from simple assault in that a weapon is used or the assault occurs during the commission of another crime. Some states also require that the victim suffer an actual injury as a result of the assault, such as a heart attack or an injury while fleeing from the threat of violence.
• Sexual assault involves the threat of sexual violence against the victim. In other words, the victim is left in fear of an imminent rape, molestation, sodomy, or other sex crime.
Since aggravated assault covers such a wide range of circumstances, a detailed examination of the facts of your case is critical to developing a successful defense. A knowledgeable local attorney can help explain the details of local assault statutes and examine the facts of your case for potential defenses. Find an experienced criminal defense attorney near you and get some peace of mind.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you need a criminal defense attorney, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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