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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 402 Reduction Attorney Felony Reduced - Client with prior felony conviction was granted a 402 reduction to the misdemeanor level over the objection of the prosecutor. Based on information provided to the court in support of the defense motion, the judge ruled in favor of the defense.
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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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