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Utah Criminal Defense Attorney Salt Lake City

A criminal conviction involving the use or possession of a weapon (including guns, knives, and other "dangerous weapons") in Utah can have serious consequences. Even in cases not involving the actual use of or threatened use of  a weapon, simply possessing a weapon under certain circumstances can lead to enhanced penalties. As an experienced criminal defense attorney based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard has extensive experience defending weapons-related crimes in Utah, ranging from murder to concealed weapons charges. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

Weapons Charges in Utah Criminal Courts

The Utah criminal code creates a number of weapons-related offenses, both on the felony and misdemeanor levels. Some of these offenses are based on the way that the weapon is used; others create a crime based only on the person's status without any proof that the weapon was used or intended to be used.

Status Offenses Involving Weapons
Some crimes involving weapons in Utah do not require any proof that the weapon was used, or even proof that any threat was made involving the weapon. These crimes are sometimes be considered "status" crimes because the commission of the offense depends not on what is done with the weapon. Instead, the commission of the offense is based on the defendant's status as a "restricted person" under Utah law.

In connection with the right to use or possess a weapon, the Utah Legislature has defined two classes of restricted persons: Category I and Category II. Possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person is a crime that can carry a felony conviction and the possible for substantial prison time and thousands of dollars in fines. The exact level of the offense can depend on which category the restricted person falls into, and also on what weapon is possessed (firearm or other weapon).

Utah law also restricts a person's right to carry a dangerous weapon while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The level of "influence" for purposes of this statute mirrors the level of influence necessary for a person to be convicted of DUI. Violation of this statute (Utah Code section 76-10-528) is a class B misdemeanor.

Weapon Possession Offenses Involving Actions or Intent
In addition to weapons charges based on a person's status, Utah law also provides for a number of criminal charges that are based on the manner in which a weapon is carried or used, or on the intended use of the weapon.

Unless a person has a concealed weapons permit, criminal charges can be filed for carrying a concealed dangerous weapon - even if the weapon is never used. Criminal charges can also be filed if a person possesses a weapon with the intent to commit an assault - even if the assault is never actually committed.

Most other Utah criminal weapons charges involve the manner in which a weapon is used. Threatening or making use of a dangerous weapon during a fight or quarrel (sometimes referred to as "brandishing") can lead to criminal charges, even if the weapon is not actually used and no injuries are inflicted. The mere threat can be sufficient to support a criminal charge.

The Utah criminal code also contains a number of other crimes that can be enhanced to the level of an aggravated felony if a weapon is used, or sometimes even just possessed, during the commission of an underlying crime. Aggravated assault, aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary are common examples of crimes that become aggravated felonies if a weapon is used or threatened while committing the crime. A misdemeanor unlawful detention charge or an ordinary kidnapping charge can both become aggravated kidnapping charges if a weapon is simply possessed or carried during the commission of the underlying offense.

Weapons Possession as an Aggravating Factor at Sentencing

Even if the weapon possession does not change the nature or level of the offense, weapon possession can still be used as an aggravating factor in calculating the sentencing matrix used by Adult Probation and Parole (AP&P) in preparing a pre-sentence report. This can increase the number of criminal history "points" given to a defendant, and can increase the severity of the sentencing recommendation from AP&P.

Finding a Utah Criminal Weapons Defense Lawyer in Salt Lake City

Utah Criminal Lawyer Salt Lake CityIf you are charged with a crime in Utah that involves a weapon, the case should be taken seriously. An experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure that your rights are protected.

As a Utah criminal lawyer based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard has extensive experience defending weapons-related cases, including aggravated felonies such as robbery, murder, kidnapping, assault, and also the various misdemeanor weapons offenses enacted under the Utah criminal code.

With offices centrally located in Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. 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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