People may not realize just how important criminal classifications are. People may think all felonies are treated alike, or that misdemeanors are all the same. However, the specific charges can make a really big difference when it comes to penalties. In Utah, the most serious penalty a person can be sentenced to is the death penalty. The death penalty is an available option for prosecutors to pursue if a person is charged with aggravated murder.
Under section 46-5-202 of the Utah criminal code, a person can be charged with aggravated murder in a number of circumstances. If a death occurs and these other circumstances are present, the person could also face the death penalty. These circumstances include various sexual crimes including rape, forcible sexual abuse, forcible sodomy or object rape. A murder that occurs during the commission of other crimes including arson, robbery, kidnapping or burglary is also considered aggravated murder.
If the victim was a peace officer, prison official, judge, probation officer, public official or other law enforcement officer then the homicide is also aggravated. If the murder was committed using a weapon of mass destruction, a bomb, hidden explosive or while assuming control over a means of public transportation then section 46-5-202 defines the act as aggravated murder.
There are many other scenarios under the statute that would constitute aggravated murder. There are also specific requirements that must be met before someone will face the death penalty for aggravated murder. People who have been accused of murder, or other felony charges, should understand the charges against them. An attorney can help to round out this understanding and help to explain all the criminal defense options available to a person facing charges.