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How Are Assault Charges Defined In Utah?


Assault is defined in Utah Code at Title 76 Chapter 5, Section 102 and there are two ways to get there. One is an attempt with unlawful force or violence to do bodily injury to another. The other is an act committed with unlawful force or violence that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another. Any aggravating factors (i.e. weapon) set aside,”simple assault” is a class B misdemeanors.

That may become enhanced though depending on aggravating factors. For instance, the charge escalates to a Class A misdemeanor if a person causes “substantial bodily injury” or the victim is pregnant and the person knows about the pregnancy. Substantial bodily injury is defined by statute at Utah Code 76-1-601(12) to mean “bodily injury not amounting to serious bodily injury, that creates or causes protracted physical pain, temporary disfigurement, or temporary loss or impairment of the function of an bodily member or organ.”, Serious bodily injury is defined in Utah Code 76-1-601(11) to mean “bodily injury that creates or causes serious permanent disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”

In Utah, we proscribe assault only and battery is incorporated into the assault statutes that address attempts. The only statute that includes battery in the title is sexual battery statute, which is basically what it sounds like, that is: unwanted touching of breasts, buttocks or genitals, whether or not above or below the clothing.

Are There Different Levels or Classifications of Assault in the State of Utah?

Yes, there are different levels or classifications of assault in the state of Utah. A “simple assault” B misdemeanor becomes an A misdemeanor if the bodily injury incurred becomes “substantial bodily injury” or if there is a known. Serious bodily injury will cause the assault to be charged as a felony. Injuries such as bruising, lacerations, fractures, loss of consciousness (often from choking) are examples of injuries the extent of which will determine the level of the assault charge.

Other aggravating factors can depend on the circumstances or if a dangerous weapon or a firearm is involved. For example, an assault by a prisoner at a correctional facility will be charged as a third degree felony. Aggravated assault is where the person is using a dangerous weapon. What’s also frequently charged is a choking assault case where a person places their hands around the arms and neck of the other person. Any kind of obstruction of the breathing airway of a person is also aggravated. It would be a first degree felony if there is a serious bodily injury and a law enforcement officer is targeted. It’s a second degree felony if it’s just a serious bodily injury or there is a loss of consciousness. If it’s just bodily injury and there is the use of a weapon then it’s a third degree felony.

Please Define Assault and Battery Against Certain Victims or for Certain Purposes?

Assault would be enhanced from a B misdemeanor to an A misdemeanor assuming there is no weapon involved and where a person is pregnant and the perpetrator knows of the pregnancy. It will also be enhanced from a misdemeanor to a felony if it occurs at a correctional facility, by a prisoner against a law enforcement officer, or causes substantial or serious bodily injury.

How Does the Degree of Injury an Alleged Victim Suffers Affect the Assault Charge?

The degree of injury an alleged victim suffers affects the assault charge in a few ways. The Utah code makes the distinction between bodily injury and substantial bodily injury and they are both defined by statute and case law. Bodily injury is defined in 76-1-601 Subsection 3 and it is pretty broad and open ended. “Bodily injury” means “physical pain, illness or any impairment of a physical condition.” Substantial bodily injury is in the same Statute in Subsection 12 and means injury not amounting to serious bodily injury but causes protracted physical pain, temporary disfigurement or temporary loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. That’s going to be your bruising, your lacerations and anything that leaves a mark, any kind of loss of consciousness, and any kind of loss or impairment of bodily function, such as broken bones, sprained ligaments, and anything along those lines.

Serious bodily injury, by contrast defined in the same Section, Subsection 12, is bodily injury that creates or causes permanent disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ or creates a substantial risk of death. The types of injuries are often the crux of the case and the courts are very willing to find that a laceration or a scar may be considered a serious bodily injury where you have serious permanent disfigurement by way of scarring. How protracted does the loss or impairment of a bodily function need to be and how substantial does the risk of death need to be? These are all questions that are determined by the specific facts of the case, but generally the courts are inclined towards more serious punishment and finding that their bodily injuries are serious rather than substantial or the lower threshold.

For more information on Assault Charges in Utah, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 455-1743 today.

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