Two Ways to Be Found Guilty of Threatening with A Dangerous Weapon in Utah

There are a couple of different ways that a person can be found guilty of the crime of threatening with a dangerous weapon in Utah (also known as brandishing a weapon). The first way includes the following elements:

  • the defendant;
  • in the presence of two or more persons;
  • draws or exhibits;
  • a dangerous weapon;
  • in an angry and threatening manner.
Threatening with a dangerous weapon in Utah
There are a couple of different ways you can be charged with a dangerous weapon in Utah.

There are some definitions of caveats that apply to the above elements.  For example, a dangerous weapon is an item that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.  The most common dangerous weapon is a firearm because it’s use is potentially always deadly if used against a person.  Other items can be considered dangerous weapons as well, such as the obvious knife and less obvious items such as some of those we’ve dealt with in our cases like skate boards, pens, BBQ skewers, baseball bats, and even bricks.  When determining whether an item should be considered dangerous the Utah Code gives the following guidance:

  • the character of the instrument, object, or thing;
  • the character of the wound produced by the item at issue;
  • the manner in which the instrument, object, or thing was used; and
  • the other lawful purposes for which the instrument, object, or thing may be used.

The definitions of “draws” and “exhibits” also comes into play.  These terms are not defined by statute so juries are left to their own understanding on what these words means.  The common understanding of “draw” in relation to a dangerous weapon such as a gun is that someone takes it out of its holding place and points it at a person.  “Exhibit” means to make an affirmative act to show someone something.

Utah Code also gives a limitation on what can constitute a “threatening manner.”  “Threatening manner” does not include simply possessing a dangerous weapon without additional threatening behavior.

The second way someone can be found guilty of threatening with a dangerous weapon in Utah is by a showing of the following elements:

  • the defendant;
  • in the presence of two or more persons;
  • unlawfully uses;
  • a dangerous weapon;
  • in a fight or quarrel.

Utah law does not define “unlawfully uses” so this becomes a question for the jury on what exactly constitutes the unlawful use of a dangerous weapon.

Difference Between Threatening Conduct and Self Defense

The issue of self-defense often becomes murky in cases involving gun crimes.  We have seen district attorneys charge individuals with brandishing a weapon or threatening with a dangerous weapon in Utah when the defendant was simply trying to protect himself because there are always two sides to every story.  We caution concealed carry permit holders to be very careful in drawing their weapon.  The threat must be unequivocal for you to draw your weapon because if there is any doubt that you are doing it to prevent another’s unlawful force you could be charged with a gun crime and face jail time.

Experienced Defenders of Gun Owners

At Salcido Law Firm, we believe in the right to protect oneself.  If you have been charged with threatening with a dangerous weapon in Utah, call an SLF lawyer at 801.413.1753 for a free consultation.  We want to make sure that you keep your gun rights and avoid jail time.  We know how important it is that you keep your hunting privileges and otherwise the ability to protect yourself and your family. For a free half hour consultation call or email us.