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Violent Crimes

As of 2013, Utah only had a reported 224 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants.  However, despite being below the national average of 367.9 per 100,000 for that period, violent crime is still a frequent occurrence in this state.

Violent Crimes

Some of the most common violent crimes occurring in Utah each year include the following:

  • Murder/Homicide
  • Rape
  • Assault
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Negligent Homicide
  • Manslaughter
  • Kidnapping

If you are facing charges for any of the aforementioned crimes, it is vital to weigh all your legal options. However, it will likely be most beneficial for you to seek counsel from an experienced defense attorney.

Violent Crimes Information Center

  • Statutes for Violent Crimes
  • Utah Penalties for Crimes of Violence
  • Defenses to Utah Violent Crimes Charges

Statutes for Violent Crimes

Murder/Homicide– §76-5-203:

A person is guilty of murder if he or she does any of the following:

  • Intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another;
  • Commits an act clearly dangerous to human life which causes death to another;
  • Acts in a way showing indifference to human life causing death of another person;
  • Knowingly engages in commission, an attempt, or immediate flight from commission or attempt of any predicate offense, or is a party to the predicate offense, and acted with the requisite intent of the predicate offense;
  • Recklessly causes the death of a peace officer or military service member in uniform while committing, or attempting to commit any of the following:
  • An assault against a peace officer
  • Forceful interference with a peace officer while making a lawful arrest; or
  • An assault against a military service member in uniform

Rape- §76-5-402

A person commits rape when he or she has sexual intercourse with another person without the victim’s consent.

Assault– §76-5-102

An actor commits assault when he or she uses unlawful force or violence to commit or attempt to commit bodily injury to another; or if the actor uses unlawful force or violence to cause bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another.

Aggravated Assault– §76-5-103

An actor is guilty of aggravated assault when he or she commits or attempts to commit assault as defined by §76-5-102, and uses a dangerous weapon or other means of force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury to another.

Burglary– §76-6-202

An individual may be found guilty of burglary if he or she enters or remains unlawfully in a building or any portion of a building with intent to commit any of the following:

  • A felony;
  • Theft;
  • An assault on another person;
  • Lewdness;
  • Sexual battery;
  • Lewdness involving a child; or
  • Voyeurism

Robbery– §76-6-301

A person may be found guilty of robbery if he or she unlawfully and intentionally takes or attempts to take another person’s personal property out of his immediate possession by force or fear, against his will, with the intent to deprive the property owner of said property; or

Intentionally or knowingly uses force or fear of immediate force against another in the course of committing theft or a wrongful appropriation.

Negligent Homicide – §76-5-206

An actor commits negligent homicide when he or she causes the death of another with criminal negligence.

Manslaughter- §76-5-205

A person commits manslaughter when he or she recklessly causes the death of another; commits homicide reduced to manslaughter by 76-5-203(4); or commits murder but with special mitigation under 76-5-205.5.


This occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly, without legal authority, and against the victim’s will, does any of the following:

  • Detains or restrains the victim for any substantial amount of time;
  • Detains or holds a victim in circumstances exposing him or her to risk of bodily injury;
  • Holds a victim in involuntary servitude;
  • Detains a minor between the ages of 14 and 17 without his or her parents’ or legal guardian’s consent; or
  • Moves a victim a substantial distance across a state line.

Utah Penalties for Violent Crimes

In Utah, violent crimes can carry a wide range of sentences depending on the circumstances and the victims involved. In most cases, violent crimes require a mandatory prison sentence.  In less serious circumstances, fines and short jail times may result. The following is a sample of some of the penalties attached with violent crimes.

  • Class A misdemeanors, the highest level misdemeanor a person can receive, are punishable by up to one year in jail and/or $2,500 in fines;
  • Third degree felonies are among the midlevel penalties for violent crime. These charges can mean up to five years in prison and/or $5,000 in fines;
  • Second degree felonies are the next level up, and carry a penalty of one to 15 years in prison and/or $10,00 in fines;
  • First degree felonies are extremely serious and carry a heavy punishment of five years to life in prison with a maximum $10,000 in fines; and
  • Capital offenses are the most serious, carrying the heaviest punishment of life imprisonment with or without parole, or the death penalty. *In the state of Utah, the death penalty is reserved for aggravated murder.*

Defenses to Utah Violent Crimes Charges

Most violent crimes require both elements of knowledge and intent. Any defense strategy that calls these elements into question can provide the defendant with a better argument in court.

Specific defense strategies can be discussed in person with a defense attorney to better fit them to your specific circumstances. Listed below are some of the most common defenses against violent crime charges.

Defendant Lacks Knowledge– Most violent crimes require a knowledge element. This means that the prosecution has to prove that the defendant had knowledge of his or her actions at the time of the alleged offense.

If the defendant did not or could not have had the requisite knowledge that the offense calls for, the charges must be dismissed or reduced.

Defendant Acted out of Self-Defense– for some violent crimes, the defendant can utilize a self-defense argument. This defense allows a defendant to admit to the act, but to mitigate penalties by asserting that he or she acted in defense.

For example, an individual may have his charges dismissed or reduced for an aggravated assault where he used force which he believed necessary to defend against an opposing party’s imminent use of unlawful force.

Lack of knowledge and self-defense are just two of several defenses a person can use against violent crime allegations.

Free Consultation with Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you need criminal defense help in Utah, call Ascent law 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
Ascent Law LLC

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