The penal code is the specific section found within the Utah Code Annotated (The Utah Criminal Code) where criminal offenses, and the punishment for those offenses, are spelled out in writing. Generally, there is a distinction in the Utah Criminal Code between crimes against people and crimes related to a person’s property.
- Crimes against persons refer to any criminal offense in which bodily harm usually occurs, or the threat of bodily harm, or any other actions committed against the will of a person. These crimes include assault, battery, rape, and domestic violence for example.
- Crimes against property refer to any criminal offense involving the harm or theft of property. For example, stealing another person’s money almost always considered a property crime. However, if that money is taken by use or threat of force against a person then it would be a crime against a person. Property crimes also include burglary, shoplifting, motor vehicle theft, and vandalism.
In Utah, the Criminal Code is organized by crimes based on the seriousness of the offense. The most serious criminal offenses are felonies.
Felonies are subdivided into four degrees. Capital felonies carry the most severe punishments in the Utah criminal justice system, with punishments ranging from life in prison, life in prison without parole, or death.
- Capital felonies carry a sentence of up to life in prison or the death penalty.
- First degree felonies carry a prison sentence of five years to life in prison.
- Second-degree felonies range between one and fifteen years in prison.
- Third-degree felonies are from zero to five years.
First through third-degree felonies also carry with them mandatory fines.
Misdemeanors are the next category of criminal offenses which are punishable with a sentence to a county jail term and/or a fine. Many city and county ordinances and some state laws are misdemeanors. Including DUI, simple assault, and most drug possession crimes. Misdemeanors are subdivided into three classes:
- Class A misdemeanors are punishable up to one year in jail.
- Class B misdemeanors are punishable up to six months in jail.
- Class C misdemeanors are punishable up to ninety days in a county jail. All misdemeanors also include the possibility of monetary fines.
Infractions are the lowest category of criminal offenses contained in the penal code. These crimes are minor offenses punishable by a fine only, up to $750.00. You will not go to jail or prison over an infraction. Examples of infractions are city traffic violations and some disorderly conduct offenses.