The consequences of being found guilty at trial—or pleading guilty—can be severe including incarceration, fines, and other sanctions. In Utah, these consequences vary according to the degree of the crime. Felonies are much more serious than misdemeanors or infractions.
When reviewing these consequences, keep in mind that a judge can impose a sentence that includes a jail or prison term, probation, a fine, community service, restitution, or a combination of these penalties.
A felony is a major crime that can be punished with imprisonment, a fine, or both. There are three categories of felonies.
- First Degree. These are the most serious crimes for which a person can be charged.
- Prison: Five years to life in prison*.
- Fine: Up to $10,000.
* Some first degree felonies are serious enough that minimum sentences are much longer. The most serious offenses are capital crimes where the punishment is death.
- Second Degree
- Prison: One year to fifteen years in prison.
- Fine: Up to $10,000.
- Third Degree
- Prison: Zero years to five years in prison.
- Fine: Up to $5,000.
Importantly, not everyone who is found guilty of a felony actually goes to prison. A presentence investigation is usually conducted by Adult Probation and Parole (a division of the Utah Department of Corrections) and they produce a report for the judge. This report takes into account the nature of the crime as well as the person’s criminal history and other aggravating or mitigating factors. The courts review this report to determine the actual sanction against the person. Frequently, a convicted person may be sentenced with a jail term (not prison) as a condition of further probation. This is a very fact-sensitive determination made on a case-by-case basis and your attorney can help prepare you for the AP&P interview process as well as explain any other issues or mitigating factors to the court at sentencing.
Misdemeanors are offenses that are considered to be lower than felonies. These crimes can be punished with a county jail term of up to 364 days, a fine, or both. Many city and county ordinances and some state laws are misdemeanors. There are three categories of misdemeanors.
- Class A. These are the most serious misdemeanors.
- Prison: Up to 364 days in jail.
- Fine: Up to $2,500 plus a court surcharge.
- Class B
- Prison: Up to six months in jail.
- Fine: Up to $1,000 plus a court surcharge.
- Class C
- Prison: Up to 90 days in jail.
- Fine: Up to $750 plus a court surcharge.
In many cases, a person convicted of a misdemeanor is allowed the opportunity to perform community service instead of serving time in jail. Additionally, some are allowed to perform community service in lieu of fine payments. Community service is done only for court-approved community or nonprofit organizations. Importantly, a court may impose other requirements such as attending anger management, thinking errors, or other classes in addition to time in jail and/or fines. In most cases involving drugs or alcohol, a person is required to undergo an addiction or risk assessment, evaluation, and/or treatment. These determinations are made by the judge on a case-by-case basis.
Infractions are lower in severity than misdemeanors. An infraction is punishable by a fine of up to $750, compensatory service, forfeiture of a license, disqualification for receiving a license, or a combination of those punishments. A person cannot be jailed for committing an infraction.
Gun Rights Restrictions
If you are found guilty (or enter a plea of guilty or no contest) for any charge involving a felony, domestic violence (DV), or a controlled substance, you will become a “restricted person.” As such, you will lose, for at least some period, your right to possess, purchase, transfer, or own firearms or ammunition under State law (including Utah Code § 76-10-503, § 76-10-503.1, § 77-36-1, and other Utah statutes) and/or federal law (including 18 U.S. Code § 922, 28 U.S. Code § 5861, and other federal statutes). These restrictions would require you to dispose of each firearm you currently possess or own.
These restrictions will be classified as either Category I or II depending on your conviction. If you are a Category I restricted person and possess a firearm or ammunition, you could be guilty of a second-degree felony subjecting you to a maximum of 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. If you are a Category II restricted person and possess a firearm or ammunition, you could be guilty of a third-degree felony subjecting you to a maximum 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Possession of a firearm is not limited to gun ownership. Even if the firearm is owned by somebody else, you can’t legally borrow a gun, hold a gun, or use a gun.
If you are not a United States citizen, a finding of guilt (or entering a plea of guilty or no contest to) for some offenses may affect my immigration status, subject you to deportation, or permanently bar your re-entry into the United States. You always should consult with an immigration attorney if you have questions about these consequences.
To learn more, you should contact a lawyer from Pacific Legal Group, today!