Interviewer: What are different degrees going to mean for someone? What are some of the penalties that someone might be facing?
Court Koehler: I’ll tell you about the maximum penalties for each level. Your basic assault without a weapon or without bodily injury is going to be a Class B. That is punishable by up to six months in jail and up to $1000 fine. Typically you’re not going to see that much. You’re not going to see a judge give a sentence that harsh, unless it’s a defendant that has a long criminal history or there’s some really seriously, something about the case that makes the judge really nervous. With an assault, if it’s a first offense, it’s pretty uncommon for anybody to get a jail sentence. Usually you’ll do a probation kind of a situation with a fine. Typically, you’re going to have to complete some sort of anger management treatment, or something like that, as part of your probation. You’re not really looking at too much of a danger of doing any jail time.
For Misdemeanors, An Attorney May be Able to Get His Client a Plea in Abeyance
Up from there, Class A misdemeanor, you can go to jail. The maximum is 12 months. The maximum fine is $1500. Kind of the same story as a Class B misdemeanor, you’re really not going to see too many cases where the judge is going to give you a maximum penalty there. It’s probably going to be a similar situation where you can work out a probation deal instead of jail time. A lot of times with those misdemeanors, I’m able to get clients a plea in abeyance as well. It’s one of the more common charges that you can get a plea in abeyance on. That’s a really good deal if you’re going to plead guilty. What that means is you plead guilty to a plea and then the court holds the plea in abeyance. What that means is they don’t technically enter the plea. They have it to hold over your head. Then they say, “Okay, go do this probation stuff. Pay this fine. Take these anger management classes. And if you can complete your probation successfully and you don’t have any more trouble after a year, we’ll just pretend the whole thing never happened.” They’ll drop the charges. It doesn’t go on your record or anything like that.
In the State of Utah, a Statute of Indeterminate Sentencing is Applicable to Felony Charges
Depending on what kind of a case you have, of course, if you’re innocent then you can fight it. If you are facing charges and the state has a good case, then a lot of times that’s a good deal that you can take as well. Then, as felonies, obviously, felonies are going to be pretty serious. You’re looking at a minimum of 0 to 5 year jail sentence, or prison sentence, actually. In Utah we have what’s called indeterminate sentencing. Some states have this, some states don’t, but what that means is when a judge sentences you, he doesn’t give you an amount of time. If you get a prison sentence, you’ll get a 0 to 5 year prison sentence for a 3rd degree felony. What that means is that once you go to prison and they set you up with appointments with the board of pardons and they look at your case periodically and they decide about when they’re going to let you out. It depends on your criminal history. It depends on how you behave while you’re in there and things like that.
An Individual Has to Serve Jail Time Even for a 3rd Degree Felony in Utah
Even with a 3rd degree felony, if you don’t have a lot of criminal history, you’re definitely looking at probably doing some kind of jail time, but a lot of times it’s just going to be maybe a month or two sentence, or three months in jail instead of prison. Unless you have some seriously bad circumstances or you have a lot of criminal history. If you have a situation like that, then you might well end up with a prison sentence. Otherwise, it’s definitely possible to get a much lower sentence than the statutory minimum says.