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Self Defense Attorney Utah - Criminal Defense Lawyer Salt Lake

Utah law provides an affirmative defense for defendants charged with certain violent crimes if the defendant acted in legitimate self defense. Under Utah criminal law a person may be found not guilty (acquitted at trial) of weapons charges, aggravated assault, or even murder if the person was acting in self defense. If you have been accused of a violent crime, either as a misdemeanor or a felony, self defense may be a viable option for defending your case. But mounting a self defense claim under Utah law can be complicated. Having an experienced Utah criminal lawyer on your side is critical.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has defended thousands of clients during his career, and has a record of achieving real resultsContact us today to learn how Utah's self defense laws can help your criminal case.

"Reasonableness" as a Factor in Utah Self Defense Criminal Cases

According to Utah criminal law, you may be justified in either threatening or actually using force against another to the extent that you reasonably believe that such force is necessary to defend against the use of unlawful force by another person. This requirement of reasonableness in the use of force means that the level of force you may use can depend on the specific circumstances of your case. The specific threat you are facing can be a major factor in determining whether your use of force will be considered reasonable. A person facing an assailant who is threatening the use of a gun would likely be entitled to use more and different kinds of force than would be a person who faced an assailant who was unarmed.

Similar legal principles apply both to cases of self defense as well as using force to defend a third person.

Restrictions on the Use of Force in Self Defense in Utah

While Utah's self defense laws are fairly broad, there are restrictions on a persons ability to use self defense or defense of another as a defense in a criminal case.  You may not use force in defending yourself if you are "attempting to commit, committing, or fleeing after the commission or attempted commission of a felony."  You may not use force to defend yourself if you initially and intentionally provoked the other person use of force with the intent to use that force as an excuse to "inflict bodily harm upon the assailant."  You also may not use force in defending yourself if you were the initial aggressor or were engaged in mutual "combat by agreement," unless you have withdrawn from the fight and effectively communicated that fact to the other person.

Use of Deadly Force as a Defense in Utah Criminal Cases

Utah law allows you to use deadly force ("force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily inure") only under circumstances where you reasonably believe that such force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to yourself or another, or to "prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

Use of Force in Defense of Home or Other Property in Utah

A person may also be entitled to use force in defending their home or other property. But the criminal law relating to the use of force in defense of a home or force in defense of property are different. Utah criminal law places significant restrictions on both the level of force that can be used and under what circumstances that force can be used.

Finding an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Salt Lake City, Utah

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has successfully defended clients facing serious aggravated felony charges including murder, robbery, burglary, assault, and more. If you have been charged with a crime that may involve a self defense claim, contact Stephen Howard now to schedule an initial consultation.  See what an experienced criminal defense attorney in Utah can do for you.


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  • Criminal Defense Trial AttorneyNot Guilty - Client was charged with aggravated assault for alleged attack using broken bottle as a weapon. Despite the testimony of numerous prosecution witnesses, thorough defense investigation to support a self-defense claim resulted in acquittal by jury at trial.
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  • 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.
  • Utah Burglary Attorney Not Guilty - Client was charged with residential felony burglary and theft charges. Effective cross-examination of alleged victim at preliminary hearing resulted in an admission by the alleged victim that the charges were based on a false report to police, made for the purpose of getting revenge against the defendant. Case was dismissed outright.
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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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