The Utah Court of Appeals recently upheld the aggravated assault conviction arising out of an alleged domestic violence situation. The incident occurred in the spring of 2008 when officers were alerted to an argument between the defendant and his girlfriend.
An off-duty officer responded to the call in his personal vehicle and spotted the man and his girlfriend in their truck. The couple went inside of their home and closed the porch door.
The officer returned in his squad car and noticed the defendant standing in the enclosed screen porch of his home. He refused to talk to the officer and went back inside.
Backup arrived shortly thereafter and the defendant repeatedly refused to allow police officers to enter his home or to speak with them. He then made the mistake of threatening the officers. Specifically, the man told officers that he had a gun in the home and would shoot them if they attempted to enter his property.
The officers were eventually able to convince the girlfriend to leave the home and then barged into the house. Upon seeing the defendant with a loaded rifle, the officers shot him twice.
The court found that the man’s threat of force in combination with his action of raising his rifle toward the officers was sufficient to sustain an aggravated assault conviction. The defendant was permitted to refuse to speak with the officers, but a better tactic would have been to calmly invoke his right to speak with his criminal defense attorney. By escalating the situation the man only endangered himself and spurred the filing of criminal charges.
Source: Utah v. Loeffel, 300 P.3d 336, 731 Utah Adv. Rep. 25, May 17, 2013