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Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Habitual Violent Offender

Habitual violent offender is a specific designation for individuals who have committed two or more violent felonies. With any subsequent felony conviction, this person can find themselves facing increased penalties and serious court sentences. If you are facing a charge for a violent crime and have been convicted of a violent crime in the past, it's important to carefully consider all of your legal options.

Salt Lake City Habitual Violent Offender Defense Attorney

As a violent crime defense attorney in Salt Lake City, Darren M. Levitt represents men and women facing new violent crime charges. Darren M. Levitt takes a proactive approach by filing favorable motions to suppress evidence or dismiss the case. He thoroughly investigates all factors surrounding the case, looking for evidence of improper investigation or arrest procedure, violation of constitutional rights, witness testimony, and evidence that can be used to your advantage.

If you are facing a new alleged violent crime charge with habitual violent offender enhancements, call 801-455-1743 or send an online message to discuss you case during a free, no-obligation consultation with Levitt Legal. Remember, as you wait to act, the prosecution is building a case against you.


Utah Habitual Violent Offender Information Center


Definition of "Habitual Violent Offender" under Utah Law

Under Utah Criminal Code Section 76-3-203.5, the habitual violent offender (HVO) designation is defined under subsection (b) as a person convicted within the state of Utah of any violent felony and who on at least two previous occasions has been convicted of a violent felony and committed to either prison in Utah or an equivalent correctional institution of another state or of the United States either at initial sentencing or after revocation of probation.


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Definition of "Violent Felony" under Utah's HVO Law

Under Utah Criminal Code Section 76-3-203.5(c), the term "violent felony" is defined as any of the following offenses:

  • Property damage crimes:
    • Criminal mischief;
    • Knowingly causing a catastrophe;
    • Arson or aggravated arson;
  • Certain assault and aggravated assault crimes including: 
    • Assault by prisoner under Utah Code Section 76-5-102.5;
    • Aggravated assault under Utah Code Section 76-5-103;
    • Aggravated assault by prisoner under Utah Code Section 76-5-103.5;
  • Certain abuse crimes against children, the disabled or the elderly:
    • Child abuse under Utah Code Subsection 76-5-109(2)(a) or (b);
    • Abuse or neglect of disabled child under Utah Code Section 76-5-110;
    • Exploitation, neglect, or abuse of a vulnerable adult Utah Code Section 76-5-111;
    • Endangerment of a child or vulnerable adult Utah Code Section 76-5-112.5;
  • Domestic violence offenses:
    • commission of domestic violence in the presence of a child Utah Code Section 76-5-109.1;
  • Certain sexually motivated crimes:
    • Aggravated sexual assault under Utah Code Section 76-5-405;
    • Forcible sexual abuse under Utah Code Section 76-5-404;
    • Rape under Section 76-5-402;
    • Object rape under Section 76-5-402.2;
    • Forcible sodomy under Section 76-5-403;
    • Sexual exploitation of a minor under Section 76-5a-3;
    • Aggravated sexual abuse of a child or sexual abuse of a child under Section 76-5-404.1;
    • Rape of a child under Section 76-5-402.1;
    • Sodomy on a child under Section 76-5-403.1;
    • Object rape of a child under Section 76-5-402.3;
  • Disarming a police officer under Section 76-5-102.8;
  • Mayhem under Section 76-5-105;
  • Stalking under Subsection 76-5-106.5(2) or (3);
  • Threat of terrorism, Section 76-5-107.3;
  • Criminal homicide crimes under Title 76, Chapter 5, Part 2 including;
    • Criminal homicide;
    • Kidnapping;
    • Child kidnapping;
    • Aggravated kidnapping under Utah Criminal Code Title 76, Chapter 5, Part 3, Kidnapping, Trafficking, and Smuggling;
  • Certain burglary and robbery crimes: 
    • aggravated burglary and burglary of a dwelling under Utah Criminal Code Title 76, Chapter 6, Part 2, Burglary and Criminal Trespass;
    • aggravated robbery and robbery under Title 76, Chapter 6, Part 3, Robbery;
    • theft by extortion under Subsection 76-6-406(2)(a) or (b);
  • Crimes Against a Witness, Juror or Criminal Justice System;
    • Retaliation against a witness, victim, or informant under Utah Criminal Code Section 76-8-508.3;
    • Tampering with a juror under Subsection 76-8-508.5 (2)(c);
    • Tampering with a witness under Subsection 76-8-508(1);
    • Extortion to dismiss a criminal proceeding under Section 76-8-509 if by any threat or by use of force theft by extortion has been committed pursuant to Subsections 76-6-406 (2)(a), (b), and (i);
  • Firearm and Weapons Charges including: 
    • Unlawful discharge of a firearm under Utah Criminal Code Section 76-10-508;
    • Discharging firearms and hurling missiles under Section 76-10-1505; or
    • Possession, use, or removal of explosive, chemical, or incendiary devices under Subsections 76-10-306 (3) through (6);
    • Unlawful delivery of incendiary, chemical or explosive devices under Section 76-10-307; or
    • Possession or purchase of a dangerous weapon or handgun by a restricted person under Section 76-10-503.
  • Aggravated exploitation of prostitution under Utah Criminal Code Subsection 76-10-1306(1)(a);
  • Bus hijacking under Section 76-10-1504; and
  • Any felony violation of a criminal statute of any other state, the United States, or any district, possession, or territory of the United States which would constitute a violent felony as defined in this Subsection (1) if committed in the state of Utah.

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Penalties for a Utah HVO Enhancement

If a person is convicted in Utah of a violent felony by plea or by verdict and the trier of fact determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the person is a habitual violent offender under this section, the penalty for a:

  • third degree felony is as if the conviction were for a first degree felony;
  • second degree felony is as if the conviction were for a first degree felony; or
  • first degree felony remains the penalty for a first degree penalty except:
    • the convicted person is not eligible for probation; and
    • the Board of Pardons and Parole shall consider that the convicted person is a habitual violent offender as an aggravating factor in determining the length of incarceration.

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Procedural Requirements for Utah's HVO Enhancements

The prosecuting attorney, or grand jury if an indictment is returned, shall provide notice in the information or indictment that the defendant is subject to punishment as a habitual violent offender. The notice shall include the following information:

  • The court;
  • The case number; and
  • The date of conviction or commitment of any case for which the prosecutor intends to rely.

If the person accused intends to deny that the HVO enhancement is applicable, then the defendant shall serve a "notice of denial" on the prosecutor. The notice of denial shall specify which issues the defendant intends to deny, including:

  • that the defendant is the person who was convicted or committed;
  • that the defendant's plea was understandingly or voluntarily entered; or
  • that the defendant was represented by an attorney or had waived counsel.

The defendant must serve the denial notice not less than five days prior to trial. Furthermore, the notice of denial must state any details fo the defendant's assertions regarding the prior conviction and commitment.


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Bifurcated Trial in HVO Cases

At the jury trial, the jury is not told of the fact that the defendant entered a notice of denial until after the jury returns its verdict on the underlying felony charge, of the:

  • defendant's previous convictions for violent felonies, except as otherwise provided in the Utah Rules of Evidence; or
  • allegation against the defendant of being a habitual violent offender.

If the verdict on the underlying felony charge is guilty, then the defendant shall be tried regarding the allegation of being an habitual violent offender by the same jury, if practicable, unless the defendant waives the jury, in which case the allegation shall be tried immediately to the court.


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Levitt Legal, PLLC | Utah Habitual Violent Offender Defense Lawyer

Given the increased sentencing requirements for repeat violent crime offenders, it's in your best interests to use every resource at your disposal to fight for your future. Darren M. Levitt can help guide you through this process and aggressively argue your case in courts, introducing details and items that can be used to your benefit. Call 801-455-1743 to request a free, in-depth consultation regarding your unique situation.

Levitt Legal - Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah
266 East 500 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
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The information provided on this site is for general information purposes only. The information you obtain at this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your own individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Use of this website or submission of an online form, does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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