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Utah Theft Enhancements - Criminal Defense Lawyer

Defending your Utah theft case right the first time is important, because theft charges in Utah can be enhanced. This means that the offense level for even a petty theft can be increased from a misdemeanor to the felony level based on prior convictions for theft or other related charges. If you are facing theft charges in Utah, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can make all the difference. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal attorney Stephen Howard has successfully defended property crimes ranging from misdemeanor shoplifting to first-degree felony aggravated robbery, and many more. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

Grounds for Enhancing a Theft Charge in Utah

Previous versions of the Utah Code for theft provided for a felony enhancement for any theft, regardless of the value of the property involved, if the person charged had been previously convicted of property crimes including theft, theft, robbery, burglary with the intent to commit a theft, or a fraud charge.

As of 2014, the Utah Code had been amended to eliminate the blanket enhancement for any two prior theft convictions. The criminal code instead provides for felony enhancements for a theft charge under more specific circumstances. Following are several examples of grounds for enhancing a theft charge under the Utah criminal code.

A third degree felony can be charged if the person has previously been convicted for a felony violation of a theft-related offense, regardless of the value of the property involved in the present case.

A third degree felony can also be charged, regardless of value, if the person has been twice before convicted (within the previous 10 year period) of theft, robbery, burglary with the intent to commit a theft, fraud, or an attempt to commit any of those listed offenses, and if at least one of the prior convictions was for a class A misdemeanor or higher.

A retail theft charge may be enhanced to a felony level, even where the value of the merchandise is under $1,500 (but at least $500) if the person has committed any theft within the past five years and if the merchant has previously trespassed the person from the store.

For a retail theft charge involving property valued at less than $500 (normally a class B misdemeanor), the charge can be enhanced to the class A level if the theft occurs on property where the offender has committed any theft within the last five years and has been trespassed from the property by the merchant.

A class B misdemeanor theft charge may also be enhanced to the class A level if the person has been convicted within the prior ten years of any theft, robbery, burglary with the intent to commit a theft, or fraud.

Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah

If you are facing criminal charges for theft or a related offense in Utah, it is vital to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before making any further decisions regarding your case. Based in Salt Lake City and offering legal services to clients throughout Utah, criminal attorney Stephen Howard has successfully defended clients facing theft and related charges ranging from shoplifting to aggravated robbery. He has the experience necessary to help you obtain the best possible outcome for your case.

Contact us to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer.


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  • 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.
  • Minor Possession Alcohol - MIP AttorneyDismissed - Minor in possession charge (MIP) was dismissed by prosecutor when defense analysis demonstrated that the police had failed to obtain necessary evidence against client. Police had raided a large party involving underage drinking. Several individuals were charged, but police did not obtain evidence showing that client had personally consumed or possessed alcohol. 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 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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