Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
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Force in Defense of Property - Utah Criminal Lawyer

The right to use force in defending property in Utah is more limited than the right to use force in self defense or in defense of your home, but can still form a valid affirmative defense to misdemeanor or felony criminal charges under certain circumstances. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has handled literally thousands of cases during his career.  If you are facing criminal charges, don't settle for a sales pitch. You need an experienced and effective Utah defense attorney on your side who has a track record of achieving real results for his clients. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

"Reasonable" Force as an Affirmative Defense

Under Utah criminal law, a person may use "reasonable" levels of force to "prevent or terminate another person's criminal interference with real property or personal property." Utah law does not allow a person to use deadly force to defend property (other than a home). But a person may use "reasonable" levels of force to "prevent or terminate another person's criminal interference with real property or personal property."

In determining whether the defendant's use of force was reasonable, a jury is instructed to consider the apparent or perceived extent of the damage to the property, whether property damage was previously caused by the person, whether threats of personal injury or property damage have been previously made by the other person, any patterns of violence or abuse between the defendant and the other person, and any other factors the jury may determine to be relevant. But a jury determines that the defendant's use of force was reasonable, or if they are not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecuting attorney that the use of force was not reasonable, then the jury should return a not guilty verdict.

The use of force to defend property is considered an "affirmative defense" in a Utah criminal case. This means that if evidence is first be presented that the force allegedly used by the defendant was used for the valid purpose of defending property, then the prosecution bears the burden to disprove the defense. The evidence used to support the affirmative defense is often presented through defense witnesses. But an affirmative defense can also be supported by testimony or evidence from witnesses called by the prosecuting attorney.

Finding the Right Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges in Utah, it is vital to have an experienced criminal attorney to advocate your side. Stephen Howard has successfully defended some of the most serious criminal charges on the books in Utah. He has a record of achieving real results for clients.

Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation. See the difference an experienced criminal lawyer can make in your case.


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  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense Trial AttorneyNot Guilty - Client was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly pointing handgun at and threatening another driver during a road rage incident. Defense investigation and analysis, combined with effective cross-examination at trial indicated the alleged victim was the initial aggressor and suported client's self-defense claim. Jury acquitted client at trial.
  • Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony drug distribution charge and potential life in prison. Charges were based on allegations that client had sold drugs to an undercover police officer, then made a full confession. Successful mitigation work resulted in negotiated offer of misdemeanor plea-in-abeyance and ultimate dismissal of case.
  • Utah Expungement Attorney Salt Lake Davis Expunged - Client with prior conviction for violent felony was ineligible for expungement through the courts. A successful 2-step reduction restored expungement eligibility and ultimately led to the court's decision to grant the requested expungement.
  • Violent Crimes Assalt Defense UtahDismissed at Preliminary Hearing - Client charged with aggravated robbery and facing life in prison. Full case analysis and consultation with client allowed the development of a strong defense strategy. Effective cross-examination of the alleged victim at the preliminary hearing resulted in an outright dismissal of all charges by the judge.
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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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