Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Howard
Call Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah
Call Utah Criminal Lawyer
Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers / Former Prosecutors
Call 801-449-1409 now to see what the right attorney can do for you.
Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer Salt Lake City

Criminal Defense Solutions Start HereSM

Finding a Felony Defense LawyerChoosing a Misdemeanor Defense LawyerDrug and Alcohol Crimes Defense LawyerWhite Collar Defense Attorney for Utah ChargesAttorney for Expungements Reductions and PardonsDefendant Constitutional Rights Criminal LawyerBail and Bond Alternatives in UtahReasons for Hope Facing Criminal Charges

Utah Criminal Attorney in Salt Lake City

Is a knife a dangerous weapon under Utah criminal law?

There are certain items that will almost always be considered "weapons" under Utah law - guns, hand grenades, etc. There are other items that are not normally considered to be weapons, but that can be used as a weapon - shovels, baseball bats, pocket knives, etc. This second group of items can be the subject of some debate in determining whether the item will be considered a "weapon" in Utah.

The Utah Supreme Court, in the case of Salt Lake City v. Miles (2014 UT 47), set forth the test for determining whether an item such as a pocket knife should be considered to be a weapon. While the analysis is still very fact-specific, this case sets forth guidance in determining whether an item should be considered a weapon under Utah law.

If you are facing weapons-related criminal charges in Utah, it is vital to have the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard has defended violent felony and misdemeanor cases ranging from aggravated murder to domestic violence assault, as well as weapons-related cases including possession of a concealed dangerous weapon, possession of a weapon by a restricted person, and more. Contact us today to arrange for a confidential consultation.

Salt Lake City v. Miles, 2014 UT 47 - Knives as Dangerous Weapons in Utah

The Utah Supreme Court case of Salt Lake City v. Miles focused on the charge of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person. For purposes of the appellate case, it was not contested that the defendant was a restricted person. The key issue on appeal was whether the pocket knife found in the possession of the defendant, was a "dangerous weapon" under Utah law.

The evidence presented at trial included evidence that the defendant had made verbal threats to kill someone with a knife. Police were contacted, and ultimately arrested the defendant. During the course of their interactions with the defendant, police searched the defendant, finding "nothing of significance" on his person. Police subsequently searched a grocery cart in the possession of the defendant. Police found a knife inside the pocket of a jacket (not being worn by the defendant) that was located in the cart. The knife blade was approximately 3-inches long. Based on the threats made by the defendant, prosecutor's argued that the knife should be considered a "dangerous weapon" under the restricted person statute.

The appeal had originally been heard in the Utah Court of Appeals. That court had held that the determination of whether a pocket knife is a weapon can include an analysis of the actual use (or non-use) of the item by the defendant, as well as any "intended use" for the item. Because the defendant had threatened to use a knife to kill someone, the Court of Appeals determined that defendant intended to use the knife as a weapon, and that the knife therefore could properly be considered to be a dangerous weapon.

The Supreme Court ultimately reversed the Court of Appeals decision, determining that the definition of "dangerous weapon" in the Utah criminal code does not allow the "intended" use of an item if the item is not normally considered to be a weapon and is not actually used as a weapon. The evidence in the case did not show the defendant using the knife in any way. The defendant did not waive the knife in the air, brandish the knife, or display the knife in any way. The defendant did not even touch the knife. Thus, because it could not be said that the knife was actually "used" in any way, the court held that under the circumstances of the case, the knife should not be considered to be a dangerous weapon.

Disclaimer - The Supreme Court issued its opinion in 2014, based on the specific statutory language that existed at the time. The Utah Legislature can, and does, make frequent changes to statutes to meet perceived public needs. It is not uncommon for the legislature to amend a statute that has been interpreted by the courts in a manner adverse to prosecution interests. The information provided on this website is intended to be used for informational and advertising purposes only. It is possible that the law has changed since the time this page was originally published. If you have questions regarding weapons law in Utah, you should consult with a qualified attorney.

Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer in Salt Lake City

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has defended clients facing charges including aggravated murder, weapons charges, drug charges, theft, DUI, and many more. His track record includes not guilty verdicts and dismissals on some of the most serious charges on the books in Utah

If you are facing prosecution for a crime in Utah, it is vital to have the assistance of an experienced criminal lawyer. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation with Utah criminal lawyer Stephen Howard.


Best Rating
Make a Payment to Your Account
Get Help Now
Name: Email: Phone: Describe your legal needs here:
I accept the disclaimer below.
Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is established by the use of this form. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be submitted through this form. By clicking 'submit' I am only requesting that I be contacted for the purpose of obtaining legal services.

This form protected by reCAPTCHA.

  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Charges of insurance fraud were brought when investigators found reason to believe that client's claim of injury was fraudulent. Client was seen kicking a soccer ball, and investigators concluded that the injury claim was false. By obtaining medical records and other administrative records, and by pointing out to the prosecutor that the alleged injury interferred with the client's ability to lift - not his ability to kick a ball - the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case.
  • Criminal Appeals Defense AttorneyDismissed on Appeal - DUI case was dismissed after a successful appeal where the Utah Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's denial of the defense motion to suppress. Without the suppressed evidence, the prosecutor acknowledged that they did not have sufficient evidence to proceed to trial and the case was dismissed.
  • Utah 402 Reduction Attorney Felony Reduced - Client with prior felony conviction was granted a 402 reduction to the misdemeanor level over the objection of the prosecutor. Based on information provided to the court in support of the defense motion, the judge ruled in favor of the defense.
  • Utah Burglary Defense Attorney Not Guilty - Client was charged with second-degree felony residential burglary and facing potential prison time. Investigation by the defense revealed multiple witnesses, missed by police and prosecutors, who supported client's claim of innocence. At trial, the jury returned a "not guilty" verdict on all charges.
Best Criminal Defense Strategy

Aggressive is good. Effective is better. The best defense strategy in any given criminal case can require in-depth analysis of the facts and a thorough understanding of applicable statutes, case law, and complex procedural and evidentiary rules. Having an experienced attorney on your side....

Strategy »
Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Profile Utah

Our criminal defense lawyers have represented clients facing some of the most serious felony charges on the books in Utah. Whether you are facing prosecution for felony or misdemeanor charges, you can be assured that our attorneys have the experience, knowledge, and determination necessary to help you achieve the results you need. Choosing the best defense attorney for your case will be one of the most important decisions you make....

Experience »
Conviction Consequences in Utah Criminal Prosecutions

Even a single misdemeanor conviction in Utah can result in extended jail time and substantial fines. The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction can last a lifetime. Whether you are facing misdemeanor prosecution in a justice court or more serious felony charges in the district court, obtaining advice and assistance from an experienced criminal defense attorney is....

Consequences »
Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Hope

Facing criminal prosecution in Utah can feel like your world is collapsing. But there are reasons to remain hopeful, and there are things you can do right now that can help increase the odds of a successful outcome. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you evaluate the various options you have, and can help you....

Reasons to Hope »
Home | Attorney Profile | Case Results | Criminal Code | FAQ | Legal Resources | Defense Strategy | Contact Us

Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

The materials in this website are intended for informational purposes only, and are not legal advice. Viewing or responding to materials in this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Read Full Disclaimer.