Defending Property Crimes in Utah
Criminal property offenses can range in severity, including offenses such as misdemeanor trespassing and felony burglary. These offenses are not entirely uncommon. According to a study conducted by the Utah Foundation, the property crime trend has risen throughout the years. In 2002 alone, there were 4,000 property crime offenses reported per 100,000 residents.
Common property crime charges in Utah include:
It's important to take criminal charges seriously, no matter what offense you face. Even if the penalties seem minimal, a criminal conviction can potentially have a drastic impact on your future. This includes closing many doors to future employment opportunities and in some cases affecting current employment. Reviewing your case with a dedicated criminal defense attorney can potentially allow you to avoid harsh penalties and other impacts on your lifestyle.
Salt Lake City Property Crime Attorney
Levitt Legal is a Salt Lake City based criminal defense firm that represents individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony property offenses. Darren Levitt works with clients to understand every detail surrounding their cases, whether they are adults or minors. This information often proves vital in building a defense or pursuing pre-trial motions, which can help lead to favorable outcomes for clients. Call (801) 455-1743 to discuss your legal options with Darren Levitt during a free consultation.
Utah Property Crime Information Center
Back to top
Types of Property Crimes in Salt Lake City, Utah
Property crimes include those committed intentionally or as a result of reckless behavior. Under Utah Criminal Code 76-6, these criminal offenses include:
- Arson (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-102)
- Aggravated Arson (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-102)
- Reckless Burning (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-104)
- Abandoned Fire (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-104.5)
- Causing a Catastrophe (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-105)
- Criminal Mischief (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-106)
- Burglary (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-202)
- Aggravated Burglary (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-203)
- Burglary of a Vehicle (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-204)
- Criminal Trespass (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-206)
- Graffiti (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-107)
- Property Damage Caused While Committing a Theft (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-412.5)
Back to top
Arson Classification under Utah Law
An individual is guilty of arson if he or she uses fire or explosives to intentionally cause unlawful damage to property. This is done under certain motivations, including committing insurance fraud or doing damage to another person's property. Arson is classified by the following:
- Second Degree Felony – There was $5,000 or more in damages. It may also apply if, as a result of the fire or explosion, another person received serious injury.
- Third Degree Felony – There was between $1500 and $5000 in damages. It may also apply if another person received substantial bodily injury as a result of the arson or if the action endangered human life.
- Class A Misdemeanor – The damage caused is between $500 and $1500.
- Class B Misdemeanor – The damage caused resulted in less than $500 worth of damages.
This criminal offense can be escalated to Aggravated Arson (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-103) if the individual used fire or explosives on a habitable structure or vehicle. This is a first degree felony offense.
Back to top
Burglary Classification under Utah Law
It is a common misconception that burglary only relates to stealing. In fact, burglary can relate to many other felony or misdemeanor chargers. Under Utah Criminal Code 76-6-202, burglary can be alleged against an individual who unlawfully enters or remains in a building with the intention of committing a criminal offense. This includes felonies, theft, assault, lewdness, or sexual battery.
If the burglary was committed on a private or public property that is not a dwelling, it is a 3rd degree felony. In cases where it is committed in a home, apartment, condominium, or other dwelling, it is a 2nd degree felony. Note that violation for burglary is considered separate to other crimes that are committed by the individual after they have illegally entered the property.
A burglary offense is considered aggravated if another person is injured as a result of the crime, there were threats to other individuals, or if there was the attempt or possession of explosives. This is a first degree felony offense.
Back to top
Causing a Catastrophe under Utah Law
Under Utah Criminal Code 76-6-105, causing widespread damage to other people or property through the use of a weapon of mass destruction or other harmful force is considered a criminal offense. This can also include explosions, fires, floods, avalanches, collapse of a building, or other destructive forces. The classification for these offenses is as follows:
- 1st degree felony if the violator caused the catastrophe intentionally with the use of a weapon of mass destruction
- 2nd degree felony if the person knowingly caused the catastrophe through a method aside from a weapon of mass destruction
- Class A misdemeanor if the catastrophe was caused through recklessness
In addition to criminal penalties, a convicted individual may also be ordered by the court to pay all expenses incurred as a result of the catastrophe.
Back to top
Graffiti Classification and Penalties
Graffiti is a form of vandalism under law, regardless of the artistic merit of the end result. The unauthorized use of writing, spraying, affixing, or inscribing another person's property is a criminal offense (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-107). The victim of the crime in these cases is the owner of the property that was defaced. Depending on the amount of property damage costs, graffiti is considered a misdemeanor or felony offense. This classification includes:
- 2nd degree felony if the damage caused is greater than $5,000
- 3rd degree felony if the damage caused is greater than $1000
- Class A misdemeanor if the damage caused is $300 or more
- Class B misdemeanor if the damage caused is less than $300
Note that damages refer to the costs for removal, repair or replacement, whichever is less. The court is responsible for determining the damage costs, which are to be repaid by the violator. If the graffiti is located on an overpass or underpass and requires traffic interference to remove, then the person responsible for cleanup in the area provides assistance for a safe graffiti removal.
Unlike many other criminal offenses, a graffiti conviction can bring non-traditional penalties. If convicted, the court may order the individual to clean up the graffiti they created or even other graffiti. Specific sentencing guidelines include:
- First Time Conviction or Adjudication – Graffiti removal for at least 8 hours.
- Second Conviction or Adjudication – Graffiti removal for at least 16 hours
- Third Conviction or Adjudication – Graffiti cleanup for at least 24 hours
Those convicted of graffiti offenses are responsible for removal costs, unless it is waived by the court. Other forms of restitution or repair may be required by the court, in addition or instead of the graffiti removal.
Back to top
Utah Property Crime Resources
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) – Created by the Office of Justice Programs, the BJS presents a database of research and statistics about crime in the nation. This page includes the results of studies conducted about 2009 property crimes in the United States, including facts, surveys, and statistics.
International Association of Property Crime Investigators – Founded by law enforcement officers and loss prevention experts, this association is dedicated to providing intelligence, networking, training, and education to the community. Their efforts are also designed to enhance the effectiveness of property crime investigations and to create an environment for experts to share their knowledge.
Utah Foundation - Research Brief –The Utah Foundation promotes a healthy economy by performing meticulous research to aid policy makers, business owners, and community members in understanding key issues. They also present recommendations for change. This page contains the results of a study conducted in 2004 about crime in Utah, including property crimes.
Salt Lake City Police Department – The Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD) responds to emergency calls and anonymous tips regarding property crimes in the local community. This includes arson, trespassing, vandalism, and related offenses.
Back to top
Levitt Legal, PLLC | Salt Lake City Property Crime Attorney
If you have been charged with a property damage offense or suspect you may soon be, it's important to quickly consider your legal options. Remember, the prosecution is using this time to gather evidence and testimony to build a case against you. Darren Levitt of Levitt Legal represents clients facing property offenses in Salt Lake County, Box Elder County, Weber County, Cache County, and the surrounding communities. Call (801) 455-1743 or send an online message to receive a free, in-depth consultation with Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney Darren Levitt.