13 Ways the 2022 Legislative Session Changed Criminal Law in Utah

The Utah Legislature meets for 45 calendar days (starting in January and ending in March) each year for the legislative session. Hundreds of bills* are proposed to change Utah’s laws. While many of the bills proposed and laws passed don’t deal with criminal matters, we keep an eye on the ones that do and how they might affect the rights of Utahns who are charged with crimes.

The Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel put together a 60-page document titled Selected Highlights of the 2022 General Session. The details of many of the changes are long and complex, but you can view the entire document on their website.

Below is a list of 13 bills (along with some short summaries) that may impact people who have criminal charges in Utah. If you would like more clarification on a particular change, the expert defense lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat are ready to help you learn more about any of the changes.

*HB (House Bill) designates a bill passed in the Utah House of Representatives. SB (Senate Bill) designates a bill passed in the Utah Senate.

1. Protection for Animals

HB0175 adds protections for animals in cases of domestic violence and stalking. “Emotional distress” now includes suffering resulting from harm to an animal. There will also be a space on certain requests for protection to include an animal.

2. Documentation for Catalytic Converters

HB0038S01 deals mostly with adding specific rules surrounding the theft and sale of stolen catalytic converters. Some pawnshops and other merchandisers will need to document their purchases into a central database. It also outlines punishments for failure to document the purchase.

3. Addition of Aggravated Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

SB0167S03 modifies the definition of sexual exploitation of a minor and creates an offense for aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.

4. Criminal Justice System Changes

SB0179S05 deals with a lot of provisions to the criminal justice system. One of the notable changes is getting rid of the requirement of a felony offense for participation in a drug court program. Other changes of note are requirements for certain residential, vocational, and life skills programs to report data to the State Commissions on Criminal and Juvenile Justice and the Department of Corrections to track an offender’s compliance with certain treatment while on probation or parole.

5. Reckless Driving Updates

SB0053S05 makes changes to the offense of reckless driving. Some of the changes include 1) the penalty for racing on the highway, 2) allowing the seizure of a vehicle that isn’t street legal and is racing on a highway, 3) establishes a minimum fine for speeding over 100 miles per hour, and 4) adds speeding of 105 or greater to be a reckless driving offense.

6. Using a Wireless Communication Device while Driving

SB0102S03 makes it illegal to use a phone (wireless communication device) to view or take pictures while driving.

7. Juvenile Prison Arrangements (under 25)

HB0138 makes a change that a minor who has been committed to prison will stay housed with the Division of Juvenile Justice Services until they are 25 years old.

8. Victim Address Confidentiality Program

HB0117S03 creates an address confidentiality program and establishes rules for eligibility, application, and voter registration of individuals in the program.

9. Probation and Parole Supervision Updates

HB0028S02 adds a lot of new requirements and allowances for certain entities that work with individuals on parole or probation. One notable change is that the Department of Corrections (DOC) is required to notify victims about the expiration of an offender’s probation or parole and their options for getting a continuous protective order. Another notable change is that the DOC must detain individuals who commit certain types of violations of their conditions of probation or parole.  

10. Protective Order Expungements

SB0085S05 allows certain protective orders and stalking injunctions to be expunged.

11. Biological Evidence Preservation

HB0065S01 adds a requirement that biological evidence for violent felony offenses must be preserved for a specific time period.  

12. Equality and Access in Correctional Education Programs

HB0194 adds a level of equality for incarcerated women to have access to equivalent educational and career-readiness opportunities as incarcerated men. It also requires reasonable access to grants or other financial aid to participate in educational programs for both men and women. Also, this allows an incarcerated person’s participation in an educational program to be considered when making a decision about a transfer or disciplinary sanction.

13. Law Enforcement Recording Release Amendment

HB0260S02 requires, in certain situations, the release of the recording of a law enforcement incident that resulted in death or bodily injury when an officer fired a weapon.

If you have questions about the details of any of the changes to Utah law this year and how they might affect your case, the experienced legal team at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat is ready to help you.

Call us today at (801) 532-5297 for a free consultation.

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