Defense Attorney

Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, it is very important that you work with a criminal defense attorney throughout the entire process. Whether or not you think that the situation is serious, there may be a lot more at risk than is immediately apparent, and you could find yourself looking back on this case year from now wishing that you had taken some different steps. Criminal law is complicated, which is why it is so important that you take this process seriously and work with an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah. Many criminal defense attorneys offer free initial consultations with potential clients so that they can ask a variety of questions about their situation and learn about the most appropriate steps that they should be taking to move forward with as much success as possible.

The Criminal Law System
The criminal law system in the Utah is complicated and confusing, especially for individuals who do not have a comprehensive understanding of the situation that they are involved in, and the possible consequences of a guilty finding or plea agreement. If you are at a court hearing working with a prosecutor, they will make an initial offer for the individual to accept a guilty finding, or may make an initial offer for a plea deal. While this may seem like the proper decision given the circumstances and the individual may want to get the process finished with, it could come back to cause a major issue.
Negotiating Acceptable Outcomes
You may have noticed that there is a theme here, and it all comes down to working towards the most acceptable outcome for your situation. Every step that your attorney takes will be with the intention to get you the lightest possible sentence, the most minimum penalties available for your charges, and how you can mitigate the impact that these charges have on your life. When you are working on your own and attempting to represent yourself, courts and prosecutors will take advantage of your inexperience and you will find yourself walking away with steep penalties without much clarity on how it even happened.
Professional Advice For Your Specific Case
When you hire an attorney to represent your case, they are working directly on your behalf in order to help you with your case. This means that any action you think about taking outside of the case that you are unsure of how it will impact your proceedings, and then you will be able to consult with them. If you are wondering how your case will impact your ability to apply for jobs, renew a driver’s license, apply for housing, or anything else that is unclear at the time, you will be able to contact your attorney and get a specific answer about the exact situation that you are in. While this may not seem like a big deal right off the bat, you will find that their advice and counsel throughout your case is absolutely irreplaceable because of how simple it will make each of these otherwise complicated questions seem.

Confidence In Your Case
The most important thing that you will get from working with a criminal defense attorney is confidence. You will be able to get straight answers from them about your entire situation and will be able to plan accordingly for your future given their history of experience and their understanding of how they expect your case to go.
Criminal Law
There are two main types of law in the Utah: Civil Law and Criminal Law.
Criminal law is designed to address behavior that is considered to be an offense against society, the state, or the public, even if the victim is an individual person as opposed to a group of people. Criminal law can be thought of as a body of federal and state rules that prohibit behavior the government considers to be harmful to society. In short, crimes are defined by criminal law. If a person engages in acts of behaviors that are considered to be harmful to society, they could be found guilty of committing a crime. Crimes are generally prosecuted in a criminal court. Someone convicted of a crime may be forced to pay fines, and may also lose their personal freedoms and privileges by being sentenced to jail or prison time.
Types of Crimes
There are many different crimes, and what exactly constitutes a crime may vary from state to state. In general, crimes may be categorized into broad categories. These categories are personal crimes, property crimes, inchoate crimes, and statutory crimes.

Personal crimes are most commonly generalized as a violent crime that causes physical, emotional, or psychological harm to the victim. These crimes are offenses against the person, and can include but are not limited to:
• Assault and Battery: Assault refers to the intentional creation of a reasonable apprehension of harm. In other words, assault is a situation in which one person causes another person to fear being harmed. Assault and battery are most commonly considered two distinct personal crimes, although many states do merge the two crimes into the one crime known as “assault and battery.” Battery refers to the unauthorized application of force against another person’s body. This results in offensive touching, or actual physical injury. As some jurisdictions define assault as attempted but failed battery, battery charges are commonly grouped with assault to form the single charge of assault and battery;
• False Imprisonment: False imprisonment refers to one person forcibly restraining another person, against their will, with a risk of being seriously injured or killed. Any person who intentionally restricts another person’s freedom of movement, without their consent, may be liable for false imprisonment;
• Kidnapping: Kidnapping is defined as the carrying away or confinement of a person by force or deception, without that person’s consent. In other words, kidnapping is the seizure and detention of a person without their consent, while intending to carry away the person at a later time, hold the person for ransom, etc;
• Homicide: Homicide includes crimes such as first and second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and vehicular homicide; and
• Rape: Rape also includes statutory rape and sexual assault.
Property crimes, or offenses against property, do not necessarily involve the harm of another person. Rather, these crimes involve interference with another person’s right to use or enjoy their own property. Some examples of property crimes include but are not limited to:
• Theft: Larceny refers to a type of theft in which a person takes another person’s property and carries it away, with the intent to permanently deprive the legal owner of their property. Robbery is known as theft by force, and may also be considered a personal crime as it often results in physical and mental harm. Burglary occurs when a person breaks and enters into a home or building, intending to commit a crime. This crime is generally theft, although assault or arson may also constitute burglary;
• Arson: Arson is the willful and malicious burning or charring of another person’s property or structure;
• White Collar Crimes: Embezzlement refers to a type of white collar crime in which a person entrusted with the finances of another person or business illegally takes that money for their own personal use. Forgery is another example of a white collar property crime, because it is the creation, alteration, forging, or imitation of any document with the intent to defraud another person of their property;
• False Pretenses: False pretenses refers to a combination of fraud and larceny, in which a person misrepresents in order to obtain the property of another; and
• Receipt of Stolen Goods: It is a crime to receive or purchase property that you know or believe to be stolen, or otherwise obtained through theft.
Inchoate, or incomplete, refers to crimes that were initiated but not brought to completion. A person would need to take a substantial step towards completing a crime, as opposed to simply intending to commit a crime. A few examples of inchoate crimes include:
• “Attempted” crimes, such as attempted robbery, attempted murder, etc.;
• Solicitation: Crimes involving requesting, asking, hiring, commanding, or encouraging someone else to commit a crime; and
• Conspiracy: Crimes involving multiple actors coming together to engage in criminal activity.
Statutory crimes are violations of specific state or federal statutes. They may involve either property offenses or personal offenses. An example of this would be alcohol related crimes, such as DUI or selling alcohol to a minor.

The seriousness of a crime is generally categorized as either a misdemeanor, or a felony. Misdemeanors are typically less serious crimes such as shoplifting. Misdemeanors generally carry a fine of up to $1,000 with no more than one year being spent in a jail facility, if any time is to be spent in jail at all. Felony crimes are considered to be more serious in nature, such as kidnapping, and have heavier punishments. In addition to higher fines, felonies are generally punished with a prison sentence of one year or more, to be carried out in a state prison facility. State laws may categorize crimes, such as categorizing offenses against the person as either violent crimes or nonviolent crimes. Crimes may be categorized by their criminal intent. General Intent Crimes and Specific Intent Crimes are differentiated by the state of mind necessary to be found guilty. As crimes are not easy to define, and each state may categorize crimes differently, you should absolutely consult with a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney if you are being accused of committing a crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand what constitutes a crime and what your rights are. Additionally, the attorney can determine if any defenses are available to you based on the specifics of your case. Finally, an attorney can represent you in a court of law as needed.
Functions of Criminal Law
Criminal law serves several purposes and benefits society in the following ways:
• Maintaining order: Criminal law provides predictability, letting people know what to expect from others. Without criminal law, there would be chaos and uncertainty.
• Resolving disputes: The law makes it possible to resolve conflicts and disputes between quarreling citizens. It provides a peaceful, orderly way to handle grievances.
• Protecting individuals and property. Criminal law protects citizens from criminals who would inflict physical harm on others or take their worldly goods. Because of the importance of property in capitalist America, many criminal laws are intended to punish those who steal.
• Providing for smooth functioning of society. Criminal law enables the government to collect taxes, control pollution, and accomplish other socially beneficial tasks.
• Safeguarding civil liberties. Criminal law protects individual rights.
What Does A Defense Attorney Do At Trial?
The job of a defense attorney is to analyze the evidence against a client and advise on the appropriate plea and possible sentence. If a client pleads not guilty, the solicitor will represent the client at trial; testing the prosecution evidence and promoting the client’s case, and ensuring that the client has a fair trial. In cases where the client has pleaded guilty, the job is to direct the court to the appropriate sentence and highlight the good points about their client so that they receive as fair a sentence as possible.
What Will A Defense Attorney Do For You?
At the start of a criminal defense case, a defense attorney will obtain details of the allegations against you, and take your detailed instructions. That may lead to the need to gather evidence to support your case. This will include interviewing your witnesses. The attorney will also research the statutes, cases, and procedural rules that may be useful when defending your case in court in order to prepare a defense strategy.
Building a defense strategy
When building your defense, a criminal defense attorney will identify the strengths and weaknesses of your case and will inform you of the pros and cons of pleading guilty or not guilty, taking both the law and your individual circumstances into account.
Before a trial
Your criminal defense attorney will then prepare your case in accordance with your defense strategy. They will analyze all the evidence both for and against you before a trial, so that cross examination of the prosecution witnesses can be planned, and a proper running order can be put into place for calling your witnesses. If there are any opportunities for applications to be made to limit the prosecution evidence, or to dismiss a case, your criminal defense attorney will ensure that these are put into place. Your criminal defense attorney will also be there to listen to any last-minute worries or concerns that you may have before the trial takes place. If there is any new evidence to be taken into consideration, they will make sure that this is highlighted as quickly as possible.
During a trial
Your criminal defense attorney will be there to argue your case and to cross examine relevant witnesses. Depending on your plea, your solicitor will be working to clear you of charges, or to ensure that a fair punishment or sentence is given to you. They will do their best to make sure that a judge and jury, or bench of magistrates, put into perspective the allegation that you have been accused of, and take full account of any remorse, rehabilitation or personal circumstances that are relevant to your sentencing.
After a trial
If your trial was not successful, or if an unduly harsh sentence has been imposed, depending on the circumstances of your case, your criminal defense solicitor will advise you fully about appeals and where appropriate will begin the appeal process.

Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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Utah Criminal Code 76-5-202

Utah Criminal Code 76-5-202

Utah Criminal Code 76-5-202: Aggravated Murder

1. Criminal homicide constitutes aggravated murder if the actor intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another under any of the following circumstances:
a) the homicide was committed by a person who is confined in a jail or other correctional institution;
b) the homicide was committed incident to one act, scheme, course of conduct, or criminal episode during which two or more persons were killed, or during which the actor attempted to kill one or more persons in addition to the victim who was killed;
c) the actor knowingly created a great risk of death to a person other than the victim and the actor;
d) the homicide was committed incident to an act, scheme, course of conduct, or criminal episode during which the actor committed or attempted to commit aggravated robbery, robbery, rape, rape of a child, object rape, object rape of a child, forcible sodomy, sodomy upon a child, forcible sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child, child abuse as defined in Subsection 76-5-109(2)(a), or aggravated sexual assault, aggravated arson, arson, aggravated burglary, burglary, aggravated kidnapping, or kidnapping, or child kidnapping;

e) the homicide was committed incident to one act, scheme, course of conduct, or criminal episode during which the actor committed the crime of abuse or desecration of a dead human body as defined in Subsection 76-9-704(2)(e);
f) the homicide was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing an arrest of the defendant or another by a peace officer acting under color of legal authority or for the purpose of effecting the defendant’s or another’s escape from lawful custody;
g) the homicide was committed for pecuniary gain;
h) the defendant committed, or engaged or employed another person to commit the homicide pursuant to an agreement or contract for remuneration or the promise of remuneration for commission of the homicide;
i) the actor previously committed or was convicted of:
i. aggravated murder under this section;
ii. attempted aggravated murder under this section;
iii. murder, Section 76-5-203 ;
iv. attempted murder, Section 76-5-203 ;  or
v. an offense committed in another jurisdiction which if committed in this state would be a violation of a crime listed in this Subsection (1)(i);

j) the actor was previously convicted of:
i. aggravated assault, Subsection 76-5-103(2);
ii. mayhem, Section 76-5-105 ;
iii. kidnapping, Section 76-5-301 ;
iv. child kidnapping, Section 76-5-301.1 ;
v. aggravated kidnapping, Section 76-5-302 ;
vi. rape, Section 76-5-402 ;
vii. rape of a child, Section 76-5-402.1 ;
viii. object rape, Section 76-5-402.2 ;
ix. object rape of a child, Section 76-5-402.3 ;
x. forcible sodomy, Section 76-5-403 ;
xi. sodomy on a child, Section 76-5-403.1 ;
xii. aggravated sexual abuse of a child, Section 76-5-404.1 ;
xiii. aggravated sexual assault, Section 76-5-405 ;
xiv. aggravated arson, Section 76-6-103 ;
xv. aggravated burglary, Section 76-6-203 ;
xvi. aggravated robbery, Section 76-6-302 ;
xvii. felony discharge of a firearm, Section 76-10-508.1 ;  or an offense committed in another jurisdiction which if committed in this state would be a violation of a crime listed in this Subsection (1)(j);
k) the homicide was committed for the purpose of:
i. preventing a witness from testifying;
ii. preventing a person from providing evidence or participating in any legal proceedings or official investigation;
iii. retaliating against a person for testifying, providing evidence, or participating in any legal proceedings or official investigation;  or
iv. disrupting or hindering any lawful governmental function or enforcement of laws;
l) the victim is or has been a local, state, or federal public official, or a candidate for public office, and the homicide is based on, is caused by, or is related to that official position, act, capacity, or candidacy;

m) the victim is or has been a peace officer, law enforcement officer, executive officer, prosecuting officer, jailer, prison official, firefighter, judge or other court official, juror, probation officer, or parole officer, and the victim is either on duty or the homicide is based on, is caused by, or is related to that official position, and the actor knew, or reasonably should have known, that the victim holds or has held that official position;
n) the homicide was committed:
i. by means of a destructive device, bomb, explosive, incendiary device, or similar device which was planted, hidden, or concealed in any place, area, dwelling, building, or structure, or was mailed or delivered;
ii. by means of any weapon of mass destruction as defined in Section 76-10-401 ;  or
iii. to target a law enforcement officer as defined in Section 76-5-210 ;
o) the homicide was committed during the act of unlawfully assuming control of any aircraft, train, or other public conveyance by use of threats or force with intent to obtain any valuable consideration for the release of the public conveyance or any passenger, crew member, or any other person aboard, or to direct the route or movement of the public conveyance or otherwise exert control over the public conveyance;
p) the homicide was committed by means of the administration of a poison or of any lethal substance or of any substance administered in a lethal amount, dosage, or quantity;
q) the victim was a person held or otherwise detained as a shield, hostage, or for ransom;
r) the homicide was committed in an especially heinous, atrocious, cruel, or exceptionally depraved manner, any of which must be demonstrated by physical torture, serious physical abuse, or serious bodily injury of the victim before death;
s) the actor dismembers, mutilates, or disfigures the victim’s body, whether before or after death, in a manner demonstrating the actor’s depravity of mind;  or
t) the victim, at the time of the death of the victim: was younger than 14 years of age;  and was not an unborn child.
2. Criminal homicide constitutes aggravated murder if the actor, with reckless indifference to human life, causes the death of another incident to an act, scheme, course of conduct, or criminal episode during which the actor is a major participant in the commission or attempted commission of:
a) child abuse, Subsection 76-5-109(2)(a);
b) child kidnapping, Section 76-5-301.1 ;
c) rape of a child, Section 76-5-402.1 ;
d) object rape of a child, Section 76-5-402.3 ;
e) sodomy on a child, Section 76-5-403.1 ;  or
f) sexual abuse or aggravated sexual abuse of a child, Section 76-5-404.1 .

3. If a notice of intent to seek the death penalty has been filed, aggravated murder is a capital felony.
a) If a notice of intent to seek the death penalty has not been filed, aggravated murder is a noncapital first degree felony punishable as provided in Section 76-3-207.7.
b) The notice shall be served on the defendant or defense counsel and filed with the court. Within 60 days after arraignment of the defendant, the prosecutor may file notice of intent to seek the death penalty.
c) Notice of intent to seek the death penalty may be served and filed more than 60 days after the arraignment upon written stipulation of the parties or upon a finding by the court of good cause.
d) Without the consent of the prosecutor, the court may not accept a plea of guilty to noncapital first degree felony aggravated murder during the period in which the prosecutor may file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty under Subsection (3)(c)
e) If the defendant was younger than 18 years of age at the time the offense was committed, aggravated murder is a noncapital first degree felony punishable as provided in Section 76-3-207.7.
4. It is an affirmative defense to a charge of aggravated murder or attempted aggravated murder that the defendant caused the death of another or attempted to cause the death of another under a reasonable belief that the circumstances provided a legal justification or excuse for the conduct although the conduct was not legally justifiable or excusable under the existing circumstances.
a) The reasonable belief of the actor under Subsection (4) shall be determined from the viewpoint of a reasonable person under the then existing circumstances.
b) This affirmative defense reduces charges only as follows:
I. aggravated murder to murder;  and
II. attempted aggravated murder to attempted murder.
5. Any aggravating circumstance described in Subsection (1) or (2) that constitutes a separate offense does not merge with the crime of aggravated murder.
a) A person who is convicted of aggravated murder, based on an aggravating circumstance described in Subsection (1) or (2) that constitutes a separate offense, may also be convicted of, and punished for, the separate offense.
Aggravated Murder
The term “aggravated” refers to a crime being more serious in criminal sentencing and nature that it’s non-aggravated murder counterpart. Utah outlines nine ways a murder charge can be changed to aggravated murder:
• Two or more people were killed or attempted targets of the defendant
• The murder occurred in a correctional facility
• The murder was committed for money. This includes murder-for-hire contract killings.
• The defendant created a “great risk of death” for a person who wasn’t the intended victim
• The murder was done to escape custody or evade an arrest
• The victim was younger than 14 years old
• The murder was committed using poisoning, incendiary device, or bomb
• The victim was subjected to extreme physical injury, torture or any type of depraved or cruel treatment
• The murder victim was a firefighter, police officer, public official, probation officer, juror, judge, or parole officer
• The victim was witness in a trial or to prevent someone from testifying
• The defendant had previous convictions for an aggravated crime like rape, kidnapping, or aggravated murder.

First-degree murder convictions typically draw the harshest sentences of any crime. As with the elements of the crime and defenses available, sentencing can vary from state to state. Possible sentences are outlined in state statutes, although even where there are strict statutory guidelines, courts can still have some leeway to determine which sentence a convicted murderer will receive based on the facts of the case. The possible first-degree murder sentences vary widely by state. In some states, all first-degree murder convictions bring either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Other states, use a two-tiered sentencing structure: the first being a range of years (often up to life) in prison, and the second either life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty (in states that allow it). Which tier of sentence the court hands down typically depends on whether the prosecution can prove any of a host of aggravating factors.

Aggravating Factors

State laws spell out specific factors which render those found guilty of first-degree murder subject to the state’s harshest sentence. Aggravating factors include aspects of the crime, of the defendant, or of the victim(s) which render the defendant eligible for either the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Common aggravating factors include:
• The defendant had one or more previous murder convictions;
• The killing occurred during the commission of any of a list of violent crimes (such as arson, rape or robbery);
• The victim was a law enforcement officer performing his or her duties;
• The victim was a judge, prosecutor, witness or juror killed to prevent the performance of their duties;
• The killing was particularly heinous or involved torture;
• The defendant laid in wait (waited and ambushed) the victim;
• The defendant poisoned the victim;
• The killing involved bombs or explosive materials; and
• The defendant was an active gang member and the victim was killed as part of gang activity.
Currently, most states retain the death penalty as an option for those convicted of their highest level murder offense. States vary in terms of how often prosecution seeks the death penalty, and also in whether their top-level murder convictions require the death penalty. In states which do not impose the death penalty, conviction on a first degree murder charge with aggravating factors generally results in a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Defense Lawyer

When you need a defense attorney in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

4.9 stars – based on 67 reviews


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