Theft and Its Consequences in a Utah Court
Theft in Utah occurs whenever a person “obtains or exercises unauthorized control over the property of another with a purpose to deprive him thereof.” Utah Code § 76-6-404. These are the basic elements every prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict a person of this crime. Although this is the general law regarding, there are laws in Utah prohibiting specific types of stealing. These specific types include the following:
- Wrongful appropriation
- Theft of motor vehicle fuel
- Theft by deception
- Extortion (blackmail)
- Theft of lost, mislaid, or mistakenly delivered property
- Theft of services
- Theft of utility or cable television services
- Theft of rental vehicle
- Retail Theft
- Receiving stolen property
There is even a law that prohibits a person from releasing a fur-bearing animal raised for commercial purposes without permission of the owner. This would mean an animal activist could be charged if he tried releasing mink from a mink farm. This type of stealing is a third degree felony and punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Utah laws do not take lightly this crime.
Levels of Theft
The level of criminal offense for stealing in Utah varies from a class B misdemeanor, such as in the case of a first time shoplifting offense, to a second degree felony. In determining what level of offense to charge someone, a prosecutor is governed by factors given by Utah law. The most serious offense, a second degree felony, is that level because the property stolen was valued at or more than $5,000, the property was a firearm or motor vehicle, the property is stolen from the person or another, or the theft was committed by someone using a dangerous weapon.
The level of offense is primarily based upon the value of the property taken but other factors exist. We can explain all the factors used to determine whether a theft is a felony or a misdemeanor. Theft in Utah can also be enhanced to a higher level of offense if a person was convicted previously of theft in a 10 year period or 5 year period depending on the circumstances of the case.
Criminal Defense Lawyer in Salt Lake City
In addition to jail time, classes, and fines resulting from a conviction, theft can also result in a person being civilly liable for three times the amount of actual damages sustained by the plaintiff. With so many negative consequences of a conviction, it is important for any person facing such charges to call a Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer at 801.618.1333 right away. A lawyer will help the accused fight their charges and understand their criminal rights.