Utah Criminal Code 76-5-102.6: Propelling Substance Or Object At A Correctional Or Peace Officer–Penalties
1. Any prisoner or person detained pursuant to Section 77-7-15 who throws or otherwise propels any substance or object at a peace officer, a correctional officer, or an employee or volunteer, including a health care provider, is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, except as provided under Subsection (2).
2. A violation of Subsection (1) is a third degree felony if:
a. the object or substance is:
I. blood, urine, or fecal material; an infectious agent as defined in
II. Section 26-6-2 or a material that carries an infectious agent;
III. vomit or a material that carries vomit; or
IV. the prisoner’s or detained person’s saliva, and the prisoner or detained person knows he or she is infected with HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C; and
b. the object or substance comes into contact with any portion of the officer’s or health care provider’s face, including the eyes or mouth, or comes into contact with any open wound on the officer’s or health care provider’s body.
3. If an offense committed under this section amounts to an offense subject to a greater penalty under another provision of state law than under this section, this section does not prohibit prosecution and sentencing for the more serious offense.
Depending on the facts, propelling a substance or object at a correctional or peace officer can be charged as a class A misdemeanor or a 3rd degree felony.
Elements Of The Crime
A defendant commits a class A misdemeanor propelling a substance or object at a correctional or peace officer when they are detained and throw or otherwise propel any substance or object at a peace or correctional officer. A defendant commits a 3rd degree felony propelling a substance or objects at a correctional or peace officer when they are detained and throw or otherwise propel any substance or object at a peace or correctional officer; and the object or substance is:
• blood, urine or fecal material;
• or the prisoner’s or detained person’s saliva, and the prisoner or detained person knows they are infected with HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C;
• and the object or substance comes into contact with any portion of the officer’s face, including the eyes or mouth, or comes into contact with any open wound on the officer’s body.
• 3rd degree felony: A fine not to exceed $5,000, plus a 90% surcharge.
• Class A misdemeanor: A fine not to exceed $2,500, plus a 90% surcharge.
The court may order the accused to pay restitution if convicted of this crime.
DNA Specimen Analysis
A defendant convicted of a class A misdemeanor or 3rd degree felony propelling a substance or object at a correctional or peace officer must provide a DNA specimen.
• 3rd degree felony: A term of imprisonment not to exceed 5 years.
• Class A misdemeanor: A term in jail not to exceed 1 year.
A defendant convicted of a 3 degree felony propelling a substance or object at a correctional or peace officer may not posses, use or have control of a firearm or ammunition for life.
Different Levels Of Assault Charges In Utah
Assault charges range from a Class B misdemeanor to a second-degree felony. Depending on the circumstances of the assault and on its results, a person convicted of assault could spend up to 15 years in prison. Assault is typically considered a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and up to 6 months in jail. However, it can be classified as a Class A misdemeanor if the victim is pregnant or if the act causes substantial bodily injury to the victim. A Class A misdemeanor carries up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines. You can also face multiple counts of assault depending on the situation when you were arrested for the charge. For example, let’s say you got into a bar fight with three different people. You would then face three separate counts of assault. You only got into one fight, but it’s compounded due to the number of people involved. This means you could be facing up to 3 years in prison versus just the original 1 you would have faced with a normal Class A misdemeanor.
Aggravated Assault Charges In Utah
Aggravated assault is any assault that includes the use of a dangerous weapon. According to assault law, a dangerous weapon is any item that can cause death or serious bodily injury. Typically, aggravated assault is a second-degree felony that carries a prison sentence of 1-15 years and up to $10,000 in fines. If you are facing charges of aggravated assault, you could also be facing the additional charge of carrying a dangerous weapon with the intent to cause harm or to display it in a threatening manner. When your charges are compounded, it increases your potential jail time and any additional fines you might have to pay.
Prosecution For Assaulting A Peace Officer
Assault is a criminal offence. Assaulting a peace officer is deemed an ‘aggravated assault’ and is treated more seriously by the courts.
• It is a criminal offence to assault a constable in the execution of his duty, or a person assisting a constable in the course of his duty.
• It is an offence to resist or willfully obstruct a constable in the execution of his duty.
The key element to both offences is whether or not the peace officer was executing his duties at the time of the alleged assault, and therefore acting lawfully at the time the alleged offence occurred. However, it will be important to establish whether or not the individual was acting in self-defense.
Peace officer’s ‘duty’
This is not defined by statute; however, the courts will take into account what was necessary for the police to do to protect life and limb, to keep the peace, to prevent crime and to detect crime.
At common law, a peace officer is under a duty to keep the peace and prevent a breach of the peace. Willful obstruction of a peace officer is most likely to occur when the officer is exercising these common law powers. Willful obstruction typically occurs during protests when peace officers are attempting to prevent a breach of the peace, but protesters refuse to stop certain activities and obstruct peace officers performing their duties.
The offence has three elements:
1. Obstruction; for instance, making it more difficult for an officer to carry out his duty, or refusing to cooperate with a police officer’s questioning.
2. The obstruction must be ‘willful’ i.e. deliberate or calculated.
3. The police officer must have been acting in the course of his duty.
Assaulting A Peace Officer
Assaulting a peace officer can happen at any time when a peace officer comes into contact with the public and there is the potential for a peace officer to be assaulted. This can often happen in demonstrations when they turn violent, or can happen when an officer is trying to arrest someone. Where, for example, someone resists arrests and punches the officer, this will be an assault. To prove a charge of assaulting a peace officer, the crown must establish that an assault has taken place. The law states that an assault is committed when a person attacks another person by intentionally or recklessly causing another to apprehend the immediate infliction of unlawful force. Assault may also be a battery (when a person intentionally and recklessly applies unlawful force to another). If a peace officer is assaulted at a time when he was not exercising his lawful duties, the offender may still be charged with common assault which carries a lesser sentence. On conviction of assaulting a peace, the defendant faces a sentence of up to 6 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000. On conviction of obstructing a peace officer, the offender can be sentenced to up to 1 month in prison and/or a fine of £1000.
How an Attorney Defend an Assault on a Peace Officer Case?
These types of assault charges are serious. There are several strategies a lawyer will use in your defense:
• Were there any violations of your Charter rights before, during or after the arrest?
• Did the peace officer use excessive force?
• Were you given proper access to a lawyer after detention?
• Was the force, in fact, non-consensual?
• Were you aware that you were assaulting a Peace Officer?
Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt several elements to have a guilty verdict returned by a jury. First, the prosecution must prove the assault caused bodily injury to another. Proof of injuries varies from case to case. The assault must have been committed against a peace officer who was performing law enforcement responsibilities at the time of the assault. In addition, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew, or had reason to know, the victim was a peace officer.
Prosecutors will seek the stiffest penalty allowed by Utah law when litigating an assault of a peace officer case. A conviction on this charge is a third degree felony conviction. Here is how the statute reads in the Utah Penal Code: “A person the actor knows is a public servant while the public servant is lawfully discharging an official duty, or in retaliation or on account of an exercise of official power or performance of an official duty as a public servant.” A third degree felony may result in a jail sentence of between 2 and 10 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Self-defense is an effective defense to use in criminal law cases that involve the use of violence. However, a defense lawyer must prove a peace officer attacked his or her client first. Another way to argue self-defense is to assert a client felt threatened by a peace officer. Self-defense works only when the force used to repel an attack by a peace officer is proportionate to the force applied by the peace officer.
Assault against a peace officer will trigger strong emotions from other law enforcement officers at the scene of the alleged crime. In reaction to an alleged assault, one or more peace officers might shirk their duty to uphold the constitution.
Is Assaulting a Peace Officer a Misdemeanor or Felony
It’s important to remember peace officers are honorable people who act with integrity and are serious about their difficult job. The profession is held to a high standard, so assaulting a law enforcement officer will not play over well in court. As mentioned earlier, assaulting a peace officer is classified as fourth-degree assault, which has the potential to be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the facts of your case. According to the Utah law, physically assaulting a police officer without bodily harm is a gross misdemeanor punishable by:
• Up to a year in jail; or
• A fine of up to $3,000; or
• Both incarceration and a fine
Assaulting a peace officer is a felony in the following situations:
• Physically assaulting an officer and causing bodily harm; or
• Intentionally throwing or transferring bodily fluids or feces at or onto an officer.
Felony fourth-degree assault is punishable by up to three years in prison, a fine of up to $6,000 or both a fine and incarceration. Defending charges for assault against a peace officer is not easy, especially since the offense commonly stems from situations of miscommunication. Defending the crime may come with its challenges, but not all hope is lost. The statute requires that you knew or had reason to believe the alleged victim was a peace officer acting within their line of duty. It may be beneficial to try and prove you did not know the alleged victim was, in fact, a peace officer. For example, the peace officer may have been dressed in plain clothes or was a non-identified school official. Another common defense against charges for fourth-degree assault is self-defense. But keep in mind; Utah states that the type and level of self-defense must be reasonable. You will have to prove you had reason to believe you were in danger and that your response was reasonable for the situation. Additional defenses could include you were defending other people, property or you were misidentified as the assailant. No two cases are alike, and there is no one defense strategy suitable for every case. The best defense you can take is contacting a criminal defense lawyer. They can evaluate the facts of your case and formulate a defense plan in your best interest.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
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