You might be surprised by the most common crimes in Utah.
The good news is the Beehive State is a fairly safe place to live, especially when it comes to homicides. In 2020, it ranked in the bottom ten for murders.
However, it is a misconception that crime in Utah is low overall. Nationally, Utah runs right in the middle of the pack of total crimes committed, ranking No. 25 overall.
While murder isn’t a top concern in Utah, there are a number of more common crimes to be aware of.
There are various laws in Utah around impersonation, including impersonation of an officer (a class B misdemeanor), online impersonation (a class A misdemeanor), double voting (a third-degree felony), and many others.
These crimes are usually a means to defraud other people. You technically could get charged with online impersonation without trying to trick anyone, but that is not the case for impersonation of an officer. To be charged with this crime, you have to deceive someone and get them to do something under your false authority.
So, if you are dressing up as a police officer for Halloween, don’t try to arrest anyone for kicks, and you won’t land behind bars.
According to Utah law, it is a third-degree felony to defraud a person through writing, which is called forgery. This includes making changes to what someone wrote without that person’s permission or creating written content that claims to be made by someone when it was not. The purported author can be real or fictitious.
A famous example of a Utah forger is Mark Hoffman. In 1985, he set off three bombs that killed two people — injuring himself — as a distraction from the many forged documents he made. The most well-known of his works was a fake letter by Martin Harris — a key figure in the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — known as the Salamander Letter. This event became the subject of a Netflix documentary series entitled “Murder Among the Mormons.”
Of course, duplicating anything of value with intent to deceive is counterfeiting, whether that’s duplicating a 20 dollar bill or expensive jewelry.
The number of sexual assault cases listed is only what is being reported. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, only 310 of every 1,000 sexual assault cases makes it to police. Applying this estimation to Utah, the true number of sexual assaults that occur could be closer to 14,000.
With that being said, false reports do happen, and Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat have seen them. In fact, the law firm has successfully helped individuals get acquitted and recover the monetary losses that resulted from the false accusations.
In legal terms, intimidation is when someone acts in a way that creates fear in another person. This is all about intention. A person who gets in trouble for intimidation is often doing something else illegal.
Say, for instance, you have a colleague you don’t get along with and your dislike for each other has escalated to unhealthy levels. If you break into that colleague’s house with the intention of scaring them, it is considered a hate crime in Utah.
Intimidation increases the severity of the charge. If you commit a class C misdemeanor with the intention to intimidate, it becomes a class B misdemeanor. If you commit a class B misdemeanor with the intention to intimidate, it becomes a class A misdemeanor.
Prosecutors don’t have to prove the victim was actually afraid. They just have to prove the situation would cause a reasonable person to feel scared.
Burglary is a property crime and is often used interchangeably with theft in everyday language. However, you don’t have to steal anything to be charged with it.
In Utah, burglary occurs when you go into a building illegally with the intention of committing a felony, including theft, lewdness, sexual battery, or voyeurism.
Burglary is either a second-degree or third-degree felony, depending on the case. You don’t even have to go through with the crime you were intending to commit to be charged with it.
Fraud is defined as using deceit to take something from another person, such as money or property.
Some of the crimes included in this list are means by which you can commit fraud, including forgery and impersonation. There are many types of fraud in Utah, from corporate fraud to voter fraud, which come with a range of charges.
One of the most common are credit card and ATM fraud. There are a variety of ways criminals can steal your financial information, including installing a device near the ATM that can read your credit card number, standing in line and looking at your PIN as you enter it, and even using wifi scanners to capture data.
This includes both assault and aggravated assault. In both types, the perpetrator either attempts to hurt someone or succeeds at doing so. The difference is aggravated assault either involves a deadly weapon or the perpetrator impedes the breathing or blood circulation of the victim.
Simple assault ranges between a class B and class A misdemeanor depending on the circumstances. Aggravated assault is either a third, second, or first-degree felony. Because these are violent crimes, officials take them very seriously. That is why it’s important to make sure you have a good attorney if you are charged with any kind of assault.
While you might not be physically hurting anyone, this crime is taken very seriously in Utah. It is considered a felony if the damage is $1,500 or greater and a misdemeanor if it is less than that amount.
The $1,500 threshold isn’t difficult to meet. If you go into an Apple store and destroy two Macbook Pros — priced at $1,299 for the 13-inch version — it’s likely you’ll be charged with a felony.
You can also face destruction of property charges for destroying your own property with the intention of cashing in on property insurance.
A lot of crime in Utah has to do with drug violations, and that might be because there are a lot of ways to commit these crimes.
Illegal drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine aren’t the only substances that can get you into trouble. Using or distributing any controlled substance without a valid prescription violates state law. One common example is opioid-based pain killers. If you are using or distributing this kind of medication without the proper licensing and doctor approval, you can end up behind bars.
While marijuana is still illegal under federal law, the state of Utah has actually decriminialized it for people who hold a medical marijuana card. In fact, there is a law against police officers making any kind of seizure or arrest if they suspect the user is complying with the state medical cannabis laws.
It’s no surprise that theft is the most common crime in Utah because it is also the most common crime in the United States. Like drug violations, there are a lot of different ways to commit theft, from shoplifting to motor vehicle theft.
The severity of a theft charge is dependent on how much money the property or service was valued at. If it is less than $500, it is a class B misdemeanor, $500 to $1,500 is a class A misdemeanor, $1,500 to $5,000 is a third-degree felony, and more than $5,000 is a second-degree felony.
Even if you are charged with a misdemeanor, theft is considered a “crime of dishonesty.” There are consequences attached to this type of crime that last a lifetime, even after the criminal case is resolved.
If you are facing charges in any crime at all, you need a good lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the law. This is true whether you are innocent or guilty. The lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat have more than 20 years of experience defending people who have faced a variety of crimes. They will make sure you get the best outcome possible.
For a consultation, call (801) 532-5297.
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