In Utah, felonies are crimes punishable by terms in state prison or death. Utah lawmakers classify felonies as capital felonies or first, second, or third degree felonies. (Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-103 (2019).)
Less serious crimes (misdemeanors) are punishable by up to 364 days in local jail. For more information on misdemeanors in Utah, see Utah Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
In Utah, the most serious crimes are capital felonies, punishable by death, life in prison without parole, or 25 years’ to life imprisonment. Murder is an example of a capital felony. (Utah Code Ann. § 76-3-206 (2019).)
First degree felonies in Utah are punishable by an indeterminate term of five years’ to life imprisonment, and a fine of up to $10,000. For example, rape is a first degree felony. (Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-3-203, 76-3-301 (2019).)
A second degree felony conviction can result in an indefinite prison term of one to 15 years, and a fine of up to $10,000. Theft of property or services worth $5,000 or more is an example of a second degree felony in Utah. (Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-3-203, 76-3-301 (2019).)
A third degree felony, the least serious type of felony in Utah, is punishable by an indeterminate prison term of up to five years, and a fine of as much as $5,000. If a statute designates an offense as a felony but fails to classify it, the crime is punishable as a third degree felony. Promoting (or “exploiting”) prostitution, for instance, is a third degree felony in Utah. (Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-3-103, 76-3-203, 76-3-301 (2019).)
A statute of limitations is a time limit after which the state can no longer begin criminal prosecution. When the crime is committed, the statute of limitations begins to “run.” In Utah, the most serious crimes, including murder, kidnapping, and sex crimes, have no statute of limitations and the state can begin criminal prosecution at any time. Other felonies generally have a limitation period of four years. (Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-1-301, 76-1-302 (2019).)
A felony conviction can have extremely serious consequences, including time in prison and a large fine. Even after people have served their time, felony convictions can make it difficult to obtain (or keep) a job, qualify for a professional license, or go to school. If you are charged with a crime, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is your best hope for avoiding a felony conviction. A local Utah attorney can tell you what to expect in court and how to protect your rights.