Aggravated Assault for Defending Home from Intruder

A Salt Lake City man was arrested for aggravated assault for defending his aging mother-in-law’s vacation home from an intruder.

The stake out

Photo by: Mesa Tactical

Photo by: Mesa Tactical

51 year old Glen Decker and his wife are caretakers of his mother-in-law’s home in Salt Lake City which is used mainly for vacationing. Upon regular inspection of the home, the Decker’s realized that someone had been breaking into the residence. To put a stop to the burglary, the vigilantes armed themselves and hid out in the dark unlocked home; hoping to catch the thieves red-handed.

Bait, set, trap

The potential repeat offenders took the bait of an apparently vacant home and let themselves in unlawfully, only to be confronted by the Decker’s waiting inside. With a gun in hand, Glen Decker ordered the two thieves to stay put until police arrived. The female suspect complied, while the male suspect decided to make a run for it instead. As the intruder tried to flee the home, Decker shot him once in the abdomen. The chase continued outside the home as the runaway burglar made it to his get-away car only to have the vehicle shot at multiple times by Decker. The suspect later checked himself into the hospital in serious condition for a single gunshot wound to the stomach and Glen Decker was arrested for aggravated assault and weapons charges.

Stand, not chase

Photo by: Elliott Brown

Photo by: Elliott Brown

Utah has a stand your ground law detailed in Utah Code 76-2-402 allowing residents to protect themselves or others from danger by using deadly force if needed. What some may not realize is this does not give permission to be confrontational. The stand your ground law only applies if “the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury”. If a suspect is not posing an immediate threat, there is no justification in using deadly force; stand your ground laws would likely not apply for someone who is chasing an unarmed party.

La casa de mi familia

While Utah may not encourage residents to chase and shoot persons who are committing a non-violent crime, there are laws allowing homeowners (and possibly caretakers) to protect their place of residence from intruders. This is known as Castle Doctrine. Utah’s version of Castle Doctrine is found in Utah Code 76-2-405 which discusses “force in defense of habitation”. This law has certain stipulations that must apply in order to use potential deadly force in defending a home. The resident must believe that force is necessary to prevent a violent intruder or to “prevent the commission of [a] felony” in the home. Also, “the person using force or deadly force in defense of habitation is presumed ( . . . ) to have acted reasonably and had a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or serious bodily injury ( . . . )”.

Aggravated assault

Aggravated Assault

Photo by: Chris Heald

Granted breaking and entering is against the law, it does not allow a person to detain a suspect with physical force or violence. If a violent intruder tries to enter your home, stop them; if they attempt to retreat, let them. It is not up to everyday residents to take the law into their own hands unless they feel they are in danger. When someone’s actions have the potential to cause unnecessary serious bodily harm or death, that person may face charges of aggravated assault. Someone found guilty of aggravated assault faces the same penalties as the individual facing burglary charges. Both are considered third degree felonies punishable by up to five years and prison and a possible fine of $5,000. Anyone facing charges stemming from an attempt to stop an intruder should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately to avoid serving time behind bars with the burglar.

Multiple Felony Charges of Domestic Violence in the Presence of a Child

A Payson Utah man is facing multiple felony charges of domestic violence in the presence of a child following an assault on a woman in front on her children.

911 hang-up call

Photo by: Philippe Put

Photo by: Philippe Put

Police were dispatched to a Payson Utah home after a 911 hang-up call. The emergency dispatcher who received the call stated that although it was brief, they could hear a distraught woman screaming and shouting in the background. When police arrived, one of the children opened the door and officers found their mother bruised and bleeding from a large laceration to her head.

Wrong use of a kitchen utensil

36 year old Aaron Garcia, a former mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter was arrested for charges including aggravated assault after the woman stated Garcia hit her on the head with a wooden rolling pin. Garcia had been drinking heavily prior to the assault and was unable to recall details of what prevailed that evening besides that he was getting cross with the woman throughout the day. After searching the home, a wooden rolling pin was located, bloody and broken. Garcia is facing five third degree felonies following the assault at the Payson home, each with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine.

Domestic violence

Photo by: Nari Sin

Photo by: Nari Sin

One of the charges against Garcia is for the aggravated assault on the woman which is also considered domestic violence, although an additional charge for that specifically was not issued. Domestic violence is thought to take place between spouses; however it can be any violent behavior between multiple occupants of the same living environment. It was not reported what relationship Garcia had to the woman he assaulted. All that is known at this time is that Garcia and the woman were both residents of the same address. There is a possibility that Garcia was the woman’s spouse, yet he could have also been a live in boyfriend or just a roommate.

Domestic violence in the presence of a child

Although Garcia wasn’t charged with domestic violence for his assault on his cohabitant, his other four third degree felonies came from charges of domestic violence in the presence of a child because there were children present during the attack. Utah Code 76-5-109.1 states “A person commits domestic violence in the presence of a child if the person: ( . . . ) intentionally causes serious bodily injury to a cohabitant or uses a dangerous weapon [like a rolling pin] or other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury against a cohabitant in the presence of a child.”

One charge per child present

Domestic violence in the presence of a child

Photo by: Natesh Ramasamy

Although there was only one assault in question, Garcia is facing four charges of domestic violence in the presence of a child likely due the fact that there were four children home when the violence took place. Utah Code 76-5-109.1(5) explains when a person violates the above section “when more than one child is present [they are] guilty of one offense of domestic violence in the presence of a child regarding each child present when the violation occurred.”

Consecutive vs concurrent

When someone is charged with a crime, they may not seek legal counsel if they assume the prosecution has a rock solid case. However, there are other important reasons to be represented by an attorney. When someone is facing multiple offenses, if they are found guilty the judge can decide whether the sentences are to be run consecutively or concurrently. Consecutive sentences are served one after another; in Garcia’s case that would equal up to 25 years in prison. Concurrent sentences are all served at the same time; for Garcia, that would mean no more than five years for all charges combined. If anyone is facing charges for multiple offenses, speak with an attorney to find out options for defending the charges or at least reducing the prison terms.

Assault on a Pregnant Woman

A Spanish Fork man was arrested last week for charges related to assault on a pregnant woman after he sexually and physically assaulted a woman and locked her in the basement.

Physical and sexual assault

Photo by: Teresa Rodríguez

Photo by: Teresa Rodríguez

32 year old Jeff Jackson was arrested December 31st 2015 after the pregnant woman he assaulted contacted police after escaping from the basement in which she was temporarily being held captive. The victim had signs of physical abuse such as bite indentations and bruising along with other nondisclosed injuries. The abuse also took place in front of the victim’s minor children. Jackson is facing sexual offenses along with aggravated assault.

Taking food from a pregnant woman

Photo by: KittyKaht

Photo by: KittyKaht

Another case of assault on a pregnant woman happened in Salt Lake City earlier last month. An intoxicated man stumbling around in the parking lot of 7-11 approached an obviously pregnant woman leaving the convenient store and stole her pizza that she had just purchased. Stealing pizza from a pregnant woman is illegal (not to mention dangerous), and the intoxicated pizza thief made his charges worse by striking the pregnant woman in the face afterward.

Assault on a pregnant woman

Photo by: daniel julià lundgren

Photo by: daniel julià lundgren

Assault on a pregnant woman carries higher penalties as the stress of the assault could lead to health complications such as premature labor. According to Utah Code 76-5-102, simple assault is class B misdemeanor. This is unless there is “substantial bodily injury” or in a case of assault on a pregnant woman, in which it therefore becomes a class A misdemeanor. The charges are only increased however if it known that the woman is pregnant. Until a woman is further along in her pregnancy, it is often difficult to tell that she is with child without asking (which is strongly discouraged). For those facing assault on a pregnant woman when it was unknown that the other party was pregnant, contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss how to proceed.