What is an Assault?

What is an Assault?


Under 76-5-102, there are 3 scenarios which are grounds for an assault charge:

  1. adeliberate attempt to cause physical injury to another individual, through either violence or unlawful force;
  2. athreat to cause physical injury to another individual, when accompanied by a display of violence or force; or
  3. causing physical injuryto another individual, or causing a large risk of physical injury to another individual, through use of violence or unlawful force

Pursuant to 76-5-102, an individual does not have to actually assault somebody else for their crime to be considered assault.  A simple threat or attempt can be enough.

Normally, the crime of assault is considered to be a Class B Misdemeanor in the state of Utah, punishable by:

  • up to six months in jail

There are also two scenarios in which the crime of assault becomes a Class A Misdemeanor, which incurs harsher penalties. The two scenarios are:

  1. an individual causessubstantial physical injury to another individual
  2. an individualknowingly and deliberately assaults a pregnant woman

In Utah, a Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by:

  • up to one year in jail

Compared with a Class B Misdemeanor, the maximum jail sentence doubles, and the maximum fine is nearly three times higher.

Aggravated Assault in Utah

Assault and aggravated assault are not the same crime — and in the eyes of the law, aggravated assault is much more serious. The crime of aggravated assault is set forth under 76-5-103.  A crime is aggravated assault when an individual commits simple assault as defined by 76-5-102, and also either:

  • uses a dangerous weapon (under 76-1-601, a “dangerous weapon” is any item which can cause death or serious physical injury, or a false imitation “weapon” which the victim believes to be a real threat)
  • uses any other means that is likely to result in death or serious injury of the victim

The severity of the charge — and its associated punishment — is determined by the level of injury sustained by the victim. Even if, in the best case scenario, the victim is not seriously injured, aggravated assault is still a very serious crime to be convicted of. Where the victim does not sustain serious physical injury, aggravated assault is a 3rd Degree Felony, punishable by:

  • up to five years in prison

If the victim does sustain serious physical injury, it is a 2nd Degree Felony, and the penalties become worse, reaching potential maximums of:

  • up to 15 years in prison

Domestic Violence and Gun Ownership

A classification of assault is domestic violence (i.e. violence against a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, family member, or other cohabitant). Under federal law, any resident of Utah who is charged with committing a crime of domestic violence loses their gun privileges for life. This includes the use of a gun related to:

  • hunting
  • sporting
  • military service
  • law enforcement

If a member of law enforcement or the military is charged with domestic violence, they will be discharged from serving.

If an individual who has lost their gun privileges as a penalty for committing domestic violenceis found to be in possession of a gun, or even ammunition, it is a federal felony offense.

Misdemeanor convictions are serious — and felony convictions are even worse. If you are facing allegations of assault, aggravated assault, or domestic violence in Utah contact our attorneys today. Your initial consultation is free.

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