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Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Unlawful Detention

A typical charge of "unlawful detention" in Utah involves allegations that a person has been held against his or her will for a brief period of time, without the authority of law. Unlawful detention under Utah law is a class B misdemeanor. But if the victim is injured or if the defendant uses, threatens, or even simply possesses a weapon, the charge can turn into a felony aggravated felony charge. Stephen Howard is a Utah criminal defense lawyer based in Salt Lake City, with experience defending thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases including unlawful detention, kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, and child kidnapping. Contact us today for an initial consultation.

Elements of an Unlawful Detention Charge in Utah

Utah Code 76-5-304 sets forth the elements of a criminal charge for unlawful detention. This charge requires proof that a person "knowingly and intentionally" detained or restrained a person under circumstances not constituting a violation of one of Utah's kidnapping statutes. The typical difference between charges of unlawful detention and kidnapping is based on the duration of the detention. A kidnapping charge requires proof  that the detention continued for a "substantial" period of time. (Note, however, that an aggravated kidnapping charge can be filed even in cases where the detention was only brief, if injuries were inflicted, weapons were used, or other factors are met.)

Unlawful detention of a minor requires proof of different elements. This charge does not require proof that the minor was physically restrained or detained. Instead, a person can be charged with unlawful detention of a minor if the person "coerces or exerts influence over the victim with the intent to cause the victim to remain with the actor for an unreasonable period of time under the circumstances." A person charged with unlawful detention of a minor must also be at least four years older than the victim.

Finding a Utah Criminal Lawyer in Salt Lake City

Stephen Howard has successfully handled literally thousands of criminal cases - more than most attorneys will deal with in their entire careers. His record of real results includes not guilty verdicts or dismissals on cases including aggravated robbery, child kidnapping, burglary, drug distribution, fraud, forgery, theft, DUI, domestic violence, and more. Whatever your charge, he has the experience and skill to help you achieve the results you need.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard offers services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.


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  • Utah Burglary Defense Attorney Not Guilty - Client was charged with second-degree felony residential burglary and facing potential prison time. Investigation by the defense revealed multiple witnesses, missed by police and prosecutors, who supported client's claim of innocence. At trial, the jury returned a "not guilty" verdict on all charges.
  • 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.
  • Felony Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony charge and possible life in prison for child kidnapping. Full defense analysis of the case revealed critical legal flaws in the prosecution's case. When confronted with the defense legal analysis, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case outright without trial.
  • Violent Crimes Assalt Defense UtahDismissed at Preliminary Hearing - Client charged with aggravated robbery and facing life in prison. Full case analysis and consultation with client allowed the development of a strong defense strategy. Effective cross-examination of the alleged victim at the preliminary hearing resulted in an outright dismissal of all charges by the judge.
  • Utah Probation Attorney Released - Client absconded for more than 10 years from felony probation with Adult Probation and Parole. At an order to show cause hearing, prosecutor argued aggressively for prison. Based on effective mitigation efforts by the defense, the judge agreed to release client without further jail.
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Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Reasons to Hope

Being charged with a crime is not the same as being convicted. But just being charged can affect more than you may have imagined - jail, job, family, bills, rent or mortgage. It can feel like everything has gone wrong, and may you wonder if anything can go right. But facing criminal prosecution does not mean giving up hope....

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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
340 East 400 South, Suite 25, 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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