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Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Aggravated Felonies

If you are facing an "aggravated" Utah criminal charge, the stakes are high. Aggravated felony charges carry the potential for harsher sentencing, including extended prison terms, thousands of dollars in fines, and the prospect of being labeled a "convicted felon." Stephen Howard is an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense attorney, with a record of achieving real results for his clients. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

What makes a Utah felony an "aggravated" charge?

In Utah, an "aggravated" felony charge typically involves the use of a dangerous weapon or the infliction of a "serious" or "substantial" physical injury.

In some cases, the prosecutor may not have to prove that the defendant had a real weapon. For certain enhancement purposes, a fake weapon or even just a false claim of possessing a weapon may be sufficient to support an aggravated charge.

For example, a simple robbery charge can be enhanced to an aggravated robbery if the defendant is alleged to have used or threatened to use a dangerous weapon. For purposes of this statute, a "dangerous weapon" includes "any item capable of causing death or serious bodily injury" or any facsimile or "representation" of such an item. Thus, a person who puts his finger in his pocket and claims to have a gun during the course of a robbery could be convicted of aggravated robbery under Utah law.

While a weapon need not be real, an aggravated felony based on a "serious" or "substantial" injury must involve a real injury. A "serious" bodily injury is one that "creates or causes serious permanent disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or creates a substantial risk of death." A "substantial" bodily injury is less serious than a "serious" injury, and "creates or causes protracted physical pain, temporary disfigurement, or temporary loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ."

What is the penalty for an "aggravated" felony in Utah?

Aggravated felony charges in Utah range from a third degree felony (punishable by up to five years in prison) to the capital crime of aggravated murder (potentially punishable by the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole). Charges that can be raised to an aggravated level include murder, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, assault, sexual assault, arson, escape, and more.

Each of these enhanced "aggravated" felony charges carry a substantial increase in the potential punishment. For example, a simple assault charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. But an aggravated assault can be charged as a second degree felony punishable by up to a 15 year prison term. Other crimes that begin at the felony level (such as burglary or robbery) can be enhanced to first degree level charges punishable by up to life in prison. Aggravated kidnapping is potentially punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole. Some aggravated felony charges carry mandatory minimum prison sentences that must be imposed by the court if a defendant is convicted.

Finding an Experienced Utah Criminal Lawyer

Salt Lake Criminal Defense LawyerIf you have been charged with an aggravated felony offense, having a qualified criminal defense on your side can be critical to achieving the best possible results. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah. He has successfully defended his clients' rights in aggravated felony cases including aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, and more.

Contact us now for an initial consultation and case analysis.


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  • Criminal Defense Trial AttorneyNot Guilty - Client was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly pointing handgun at and threatening another driver during a road rage incident. Defense investigation and analysis, combined with effective cross-examination at trial indicated the alleged victim was the initial aggressor and suported client's self-defense claim. Jury acquitted client at trial.
  • Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony drug distribution charge and potential life in prison. Charges were based on allegations that client had sold drugs to an undercover police officer, then made a full confession. Successful mitigation work resulted in negotiated offer of misdemeanor plea-in-abeyance and ultimate dismissal of case.
  • Utah Expungement Lawyer Expunged - Client with prior conviction for violent felony was ineligible for expungement through the courts. A successful 2-step reduction restored expungement eligibility and ultimately led to the court's decision to grant the requested expungement.
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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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