Sentencing in Utah

Now that you have plead out on a case or been convicted the questions start piling up about sentencing. In the State of Utah there are ranges for each crime. Before you get ahead of yourself, stop for a moment and understand the next few weeks, months or years may appear to be predetermined according to the sentencing guidelines. However, there is a range with a maximum and a minimum sentencing and it varies from case to case.

In criminal cases the judge has a very important role. The court hearings have a procedural code that must be followed. It is the most important part of the case for the judge to make sure that the procedures, evidence, instructions and general conduct within the case is appropriate. The judge is also responsible to hand down the sentence.

What do they use to determine the sentencing? The judge will make the decision on how much time within the range will be served. There are certain criteria that will help the judge weigh and measure when determining the sentence.

The first part of understanding the sentencing is to understand how the crimes are cataloged. Utah has lettered misdemeanors and felonies are categorized with degrees. The lower the number in felonies the more serious the crime. The same is true with misdemeanors.

The table below will explain the ranges for each class of crime. There is a difference between prison time and jail time. Generally if the crime category will have a sentence under a year, the time will be served in the county jail.

  • Class C Misdemeanor – Disorderly Conduct, Traffic Offenses
    • Maximum Sentence — 90 days in Jail
  • Class B Misdemeanor- DUI, Simple Assault
    • Maximum Sentence — 6 months in Jail
  • Class A Misdemeanor – DUI (with injury)
    • Maximum Sentence — 1 year in Jail
  • Third Degree Felony- Fraud and Forgery
    • Sentence Range — 0 years – 5 years Prison
  • Second Degree Felony- Burglary, Kidnapping, Third DUI (in 10 years)
    • Sentence Range — 1 year – 15 years Prison
  • First Degree Felony- Rape, Murder, Child Kidnapping
    • Sentence Range — 5 years – life Prision

This is just a short list with examples. However, it does not include violations. You can be fined with violations but you will not be serving time in jail. There is only one capital felony. That is aggravated murder.  This crime is the only one to carry the death penalty. Some crimes can be categorized in different classes. For instance a simple assault in Utah could be a Misdemeanor B or A.

Some of the aggravation and mitigating factors will impact the sentencing. The ranges are very broad. Therefore, the judge must use the factors to determine where in the sentencing guideline the crime will fall. To understand how sentencing works you first have to understand what the terms mean. The word aggravating means to enhance the penalties. The word mitigating means to reduce them. Some Aggravating factors could be: bodily injury, hate crimes, history of crimes, cruel acts. Mitigating factors could be: someone who has a disability, first time offenders, full cooperation. By understanding what factors are used it can help you figure out where you will likely fall in the guidelines. Your American Fork Criminal Defense Lawyer or Ogden Criminal Defense Lawyer will help you get a good range to know where your crime may fit.

There is a special commission that is comprised of defense attorneys, legislators, victims, corrections, doctors, prosecutors and many others. It is called a sentencing commission.  The judge in the case will most likely refer to the Sentencing Commission Guidelines, they are not required to follow them. Judges are encouraged to sentence by using both the guidelines and the factors that we previously discussed.

In some cases the offender has two options in sentencing. They can choose to be sentenced the same day of the plea or conviction or wait 2 – 45 days after they have plead or been convicted.

In more serious cases the sentencing hearing can be more in-depth and the American Fork Criminal Defense Attorney or Ogden Criminal Defense Attorney will provide mitigating factors in defense of the offender. The prosecutor will offer aggravating factors in the form of evidence. It is a rare occurrence to have the death penalty used in the State of Utah.

Sentencing is an emotional experience for most people. If you or someone that you love is in need of some free advice or a consultation. Call us today.

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