Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Utah

According to reports, Michael L. Weaver, 47, was "accused of firing a crossbow at a neighbor, and later (of) shooting three arrows at sheriff's deputies during a three-hour standoff" on July 7th of last year. Though the man has been found competent to stand trial, his actions do call to question his stability. While his choice of weaponry seems to harken Hunger Game imagery, his story is nonfiction and has a moral to tell for anyone who yields a deadly weapon, the moral being 'attack an individual, particularly at law enforcement, with a deadly weapon and suffer the penalties.'

Crossbow Photo By Mika Jarvinen

Most people obviously know better than to shoot a crossbow, or any weapon, at their neighbor, and then proceed to attempt to assault law enforcement - even if they have impulse to do so, which, it seems safe to say, is not even a thought that crosses most people's minds. In the event, however, that you should be in the habit of caring a weapon on your person, it is vital to know what constitutes as a deadly weapon.

What Constitutes as a Deadly Weapon

The statutory definition of a deadly, or dangerous, weapon is an item that can inflict mortal or great bodily harm, such as (this is not a complete list):

  • Ballistic knife (a knife with a detachable, self-propelled blade that can be ejected to a distance of several meters)
  • Blackjack (an easily concealed club usually made of leather)
  • Brass knuckles (metal shaped to fit around the knuckles)
  • Dagger (a knife with a sharp point used for thrusting or stabbing)
  • Gravity Knife (a knife with the blade contained in the handle)
  • Nunchaku, or Nunchuk (two sticks connected at one end by a short chain or rope)
  • Shuriken (throwing stars)
  • Stiletto (a knife or dagger with a long, slender blade and needle-like point)
  • Switchblades (an automatic knife with a folding or switching blade)
  • Sword (a long bladed weapon used for cutting or thrusting)

According to Wikipedia, deadly weapons are defined as objects that are designed, made, or adapted to inflict death or serious physical injury, like a knife or a firearm. As such, a deadly weapon can take the form of an object that is designed as a weapon - even if it is not being used as a weapon - and an object that is used with the intention to cause harm to another. Deadly weapons also contain "catch all" provisions that include an instrument's ability to inflict injury. So, in theory, if you propel a stapler at someone's head and the heavy stapler causes irreversible damage, or, worse, death, the stapler in this instance becomes a dangerous or deadly weapon. Similarly, if you are carrying an unloaded gun, the gun may still be viewed as a deadly weapon.

Deadly Weapon Laws in Utah

The charges for wielding and using deadly weapons very depending on the state. In Utah, where Weaver committed the offense, the language of the statute is careful to explain terms in which a person is unlawfully using or wielding a dangerous weapon. The reports that "Weaver, 47, is charged with four counts of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; disarming a police officer, a first-degree felony; three counts of making terroristic threats, a second-degree felony; and two counts of propelling a substance at a police officer, a third-degree felony."

Under Utah State Legislature Title 76 Chapter 10 Section 506, the law reads as follows:

Legislature 76-10-506. Threatening with or using dangerous weapon in fight or quarrel.

(1) As used in this section, "threatening manner" does not include: (a) the possession of a dangerous weapon, whether visible or concealed, without additional behavior which is threatening; or (b) informing another of the actor's possession of a deadly weapon in order to prevent what the actor reasonably perceives as a possible use of unlawful force by the other and the actor is not engaged in any activity described in Subsection 76-2-402(2)(a). (2) Except as otherwise provided in Section 76-2-402 and for those persons described in Section 76-10-503, a person who, in the presence of two or more persons, draws or exhibits a dangerous weapon in an angry and threatening manner or unlawfully uses a dangerous weapon in a fight or quarrel is guilty of a class A misdemeanor. (3) This section does not apply to a person who, reasonably believing the action to be necessary in compliance with Section 76-2-402, with purpose to prevent another's use of unlawful force: (a) threatens the use of a dangerous weapon; or (b) draws or exhibits a dangerous weapon.

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