How Are Conflicting Criminal Statutes Treated Under Utah Law?

Sometimes an individual in Utah will be charged with a crimes under a statute, but that statute may conflict with another statute.  At Salcido Law Firm we have represented clients who have been charged with a crime under one statute, but another statute says it is not a crime.

When situations like this arise, you must make sure that you have an attorney who is well versed in the laws of statutory construction.  Utah appellate courts  have established certain principles which will govern the treatment of conflicting statutes.

Specificity Rules

“Well-established principles of statutory construction require that a more specific statute governs instead of a more general statute.”  Orem City v. Martineau, 135 P.3d 884, 885 (Utah App. 2006) (reversing trial court’s application of general statute where defendant was charged with more specific statute); see also Pan Energy v. Martin, 813 P.2d 1142, 1145 (Utah 1991) (reversing trial court’s application of general statute where specific statute applied).

Thus, if a statute is more specific, i.e., it applies to a defined circumstance or situation, it will govern over a more general statute, i.e., it applies to any and all situations or circumstances.

Later Laws Have Precedence

Further, in the case of conflicting statutes, “a later enactment is controlling over an earlier one.”  Pacific Intermountain Exp. Co. vs. State Tax Commission, 316 P.2d 549, 551 (Utah 1957).

Thus, if a statute is passed in May of 2009 and another statute is passed in July of 2009, and the two statutes conflict, the July 2009 statute should govern.

Salcido Law Firm – Experienced Constitutional Criminal Lawyer

At the law firm of Salcido Law Firm our attorneys are experienced in analyzing conflicting statutes. We have had much success in challenging statutes and ordinances, because not only are we courtroom attorneys, we are excellent legal advocates in the written argument.

If you are facing charges which may be negated by a conflicting statutes, let us help.  801.618.1334.  Salcido Law Firm is Utah’s criminal defense law firm.

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