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Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Weapons Charges

Utah criminal charges involving the use or possession of a dangerous weapon are serious. Prosecutors often pursue such charges aggressively, and the penalties can be severe. If you are charged with a crime involving possession or use of a weapon in Utah, it is vital to have the assistance and advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney before taking any action in your case.

As a Utah criminal lawyer based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard has extensive experience dealing with felony and misdemeanor weapons-related criminal charges. If you are charged with a crime involving a dangerous weapon, you deserve an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense attorney with a track record of achieving real results for his clients. Contact us today to learn how Stephen Howard can help protect your rights.

What constitutes a "dangerous weapon" under Utah law?

Utah Criminal Defense Weapons LawyerUtah's criminal law provides a definition of "dangerous weapon" that can be confusing, because it includes items that are not normally considered to be weapons. The definition becomes doubly confusing, because the Utah legislature has defined the term "dangerous weapon" under two different parts of the Utah criminal code. The definitions are similar, but not identical.

Under Utah Code 76-1-601, the term "dangerous weapon" means: "(a) any item capable of causing death or serious bodily injury; or (b) a facsimile or representation of the item if (i) the actor's use or apparent intended use of the item leads the victim to reasonably believe the item is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury; or (ii) the actor represents to the victim verbally or in any other manner that he is in control of such an item."

But under Utah code 76-10-501, the term "dangerous weapon" is defined as meaning "an item that in the manner of its intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury." This section of the code continues to set forth the factors that can be used to determine "whether a knife, or another item, object, or thing, not commonly known as a dangerous weapon is a dangerous weapon." These factors include "the character of the instrument, object or thing; the character of the wound produced, if any; the manner in which the instrument, object, or thing was used; and other lawful purposes for which the instrument, object, or thing may be used."

Certain objects will almost always be considered a dangerous weapon: for example, a gun. But in many cases, the key factor in determining whether an item is a "dangerous weapon" under Utah criminal law is not the nature of the item itself, but the item's use or intended use. Consider the following examples.

A pen used for writing is simply a pen. A pen used to stab someone can be considered a dangerous weapon. In the context of a robbery case, a person who puts his pointed finger in his pocket, but gestures in a way that communicates that he has a gun in his pocket could be found under Utah law to have used a "dangerous" weapon in the course of committing a robbery. Such a robbery case could be treated legally the same as a person who waived an actual gun in the air during a robbery.

Utah's different definitions of "dangerous weapon" apply to different contexts. Common charges where the definition under Utah Code 76-10-501 can apply include carrying a concealed dangerous weapon, threatening or using a dangerous weapon in a fight or quarrel, possessing a weapon with the intent to commit an assault, carrying a dangerous weapon while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and possession, purchase, transfer, or ownership of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person. The definition of "dangerous weapon" under Utah Code 76-1-601 more commonly will apply to charges where the level of the offense is increased or enhanced because of the use of a dangerous weapon during the commission of the crime. Such enhanced crimes are often referred to as "aggravated" charges, and can include aggravated assaultaggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, etc.

What are the consequences of a weapons charge in Utah?

Criminal Conviction Consequences in UtahThe potential penalties for a weapons charge in Utah can vary widely, ranging from felony charges with mandatory prison terms and the potential of life in prison to misdemeanor charges carrying potential jail time or probation. The use of a dangerous weapon can also result in a sentencing enhancement of any felony charge. In some cases, the use of a weapon can turn what otherwise might have been a misdemeanor charge into a much more serious felony case. The use of a dangerous weapon can also change what might have been a minor misdemeanor into a serious felony.

Regardless of whether a weapons case is a misdemeanor or a felony, judges and prosecutors in Utah take these cases seriously because of the potential for harm or injury that is associated with the use or possession of a dangerous weapon.

Restoring Weapons Rights in Utah

To avoid a criminal weapons charge based on possession of a weapon by a restricted person, it may be possible to have a person's gun rights or weapons rights restored. While restoration of weapons rights may not be possible while a new criminal weapons charge is pending, taking the steps necessary to restore gun and weapons rights may allow a person to avoid being charged altogether.

Finding a Utah Criminal Lawyer in Salt Lake City

Utah criminal lawyer Stephen Howard has extensive experience defending weapons-related cases, including murder, robbery, kidnapping, assault, and more. If you are facing criminal charges involving a dangerous weapon, you should have an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney on your side. Based in Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard provides legal services to clients throughout the state. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.


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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

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