What Is Intimidation in Utah?

Intimidation

When you hear the word intimidation, it might bring to mind a bully threatening to steal your lunch money if you don’t comply with their wishes. On a more frightening note, it could be someone in a gang threatening to inflict serious bodily harm. While this scenario can be scary for the victim, it can also be criminal in the state of Utah. In fact it’s the seventh most common crime in the Beehive state.

Intimidation is an interesting crime because there isn’t one Utah law about it. Instead, it is a legal term used in different laws, and the definition varies slightly in each of them.

Intimidation As a Hate Crime

“Intimidation” is specifically mentioned in a Utah law about hate crimes. if you commit any one out of a list of possible crimes — such as assault, misdemeanor property destruction, and criminal trespass — with the intent to “intimidate or terrorize,” then you have committed a hate crime.

Here is the definition of “intimidate or terrorize” in this law:

“[A]n act which causes the person to fear for his physical safety or damages the property of that person or another. The act must be accompanied with the intent to cause or has the effect of causing a person to reasonably fear to freely exercise or enjoy any right secured by the Constitution or laws of the state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”

If someone silences you from using your First Amendment right to speak out against that person using tactics that threaten your safety, their actions fit the definition in this law. They could face a hate crime charge, which bumps up the severity of the original charge. If their crime against you would have been a class C misdemeanor without intimidation, it is now a class B misdemanor. If it was a class B misdemeanor, it is now a class A misdemeanor. This means more jail time and more fines.

Intimidation in non-violent crimes

The word “intimidation” doesn’t always imply violence. One example is Utah’s law regarding financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. This makes it illegal to manipulate a vulnerable adult — such as an elderly or handicapped person — into giving up their money or valuables to you or anyone else. 

The law specifically says that it’s illegal to do this “knowingly, by deception or intimidation.” It also defines “intimidation” a little differently:

“[C]ommunication conveyed through verbal or nonverbal conduct that threatens deprivation of money, food, clothing, medicine, shelter, social interaction, supervision, health care, or companionship, or that threatens isolation or harm.”

Unlike the law about hate crimes, this one makes no mention about the victim fearing to use their Constitutional rights. It also isn’t defined as “an act,” but instead “a communication.” This means you can just tell a vulnerable adult that they might lose their property if they don’t comply to your will. You don’t have to commit an act and you don’t have to threaten their Constitutional rights to fit this definition.

Intimidation in Anti-Gang Law

Under Utah law, it is illegal to recruit a minor to a criminal street gang or prevent that person from leaving the gang through intimidation. It’s also illegal to intimidate a minor into committing a misdemeanor crime. 

Like the two laws above, this one also has its own definition:

“[U]se of force, duress, violence, coercion, menace, or threat of harm for the purpose of causing an individual to act or refrain from acting.”

While this definition has similarities to the other two laws we mentioned, it also has its differences. It doesn’t define “intimidation” as an “act” or a “communication.” It simply lays out different ways that intimidation can play out. In a way, it is a combination of both definitions.

What To Do If You’re Accused of an “Intimidation” Crime

The great thing about the American justice system is if you are accused of any crime — including the ones talked about in this article — you are not automatically seen as guilty in the eyes of the law. This only comes after a prosecutor proves without a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. 

You have every right to defend yourself with an attorney by your side, who understands the law inside and out. The best lawyers to look for are ones with experience and integrity. You will find both at the office of Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat. Our attorneys have over 20 years of experience, and they would be more than happy to help you out.

For a free consultation, call (801) 532-5297.

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