Navigating Possible Penalties for a  Criminal Conviction in Utah

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being arrested, two of the biggest questions on your mind are likely “How will I be penalized if I’m convicted?” and “How do I reduce the severity of that penalty?”

While there is no way to predict the penalty a judge chooses, there are facts you should know about the process that will give you a better idea. But first, it’s important to understand how the penalty structure in Utah will affect your sentencing.

Utah’s Criminal Penalty Structure

Each state has its own structure for determining criminal sentencing and penalties. If you have been arrested for a crime in Utah, you should learn everything you can about the potential penalties.

In Utah, criminal convictions have certain statutory maximum provisions depending on the offense.

What is a statutory maximum provision?

In this instance, statutory means required by statute (or law), so a statutory maximum is the maximum level of punishment a person can receive based on the laws (statutes) surrounding any particular offense.

In addition to statutory maximums, some crimes also carry a minimum mandatory provision, meaning a judge cannot legally give a sentence with a punishment that is less than the mandatory minimum.

Consider this example. If the mandatory minimum for Crime X is a $1,000 fine and the statutory maximum is one year of jail time, the judge has the ability to decide on a sentence between those two ends. This is a simple example to show you how the process works, but in reality, sentences can be much more complex. Sentences from a judge can include the following:

How Judges Decide Your Sentence

Let’s continue with our simple example above. Because there is a big difference between a $1,000 fine and a year of jail time, judges must consider a number of factors to determine what sentence to give.

In Utah, judges use the Adult Sentencing & Release Guidelines, a document that is updated every year according to the most current laws and guidelines. The 2020 edition is 71 pages long and is full of detailed technical and legal information specifically for judges. If you don’t want to read through it (we don’t blame you), we have listed a few things below to help you learn more about what a judge might consider in deciding if your punishment should be closer to the minimum or the maximum.

What Can Make My Punishment Less Severe?

Your punishment may be less severe if there are certain mitigating (reducing) factors present. These can include the following:

• You have developmental disabilities

• You are a good candidate for a treatment program

• You were exceptionally cooperative with law enforcement

What Can Make My Punishment More Severe?

Your punishment may be more severe if there are certain aggravating (increasing) factors present. These can include the following:

• The victim was unusually vulnerable

• You were in a position of authority over the victim

• The offense was extremely cruel or depraved

• The victim suffered substantial bodily injury

• You are determined to be a habitual offender

• You are determined to have committed a hate crime

• You committed the crime in the presence of a child

• You used a dangerous weapon on or near a school

• You committed the crime with two or more other people

• The offense was committed while in prison

What Else Can I Do to Reduce My Punishment?

While you may not be able to change the presence of mitigating or aggravating factors, choosing an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you is the best way to protect your rights and get the fairest sentence. The defense team at Brown, Bradshaw, and Moffat can help you fight your charges and navigate the conviction and sentencing laws in Utah.

Call (801) 532-5297 to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case today.

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