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How Do Judges In Utah Determine Punishment At Sentencing?

How a Sentence is Determined

The judge determines the sentence of a person convicted of a crime using the Utah Sentence and Release Guidelines. These are available on the Utah Sentencing Commission's website (

The Guidelines also provide aggravating and mitigating factors which can be considered in sentencing:

Aggravating factors

Things that can make the punishment more severe, including:

  • whether the victim suffered substantial bodily injury;

  • whether the offense was extremely cruel or depraved;

  • whether the offender was in a position of authority over the victim;

  • whether the victim was unusually vulnerable..

A penalty can also be enhanced if:

  • the person committed the crime with two or more other people;

  • the person used a dangerous weapon on or near a school;

  • the person committed the crime in the presence of a child;

  • the person is determined to have committed a hate crime;

  • the person is determined to be a habitual offender;

  • the offense was committed while in prison.

Mitigating factors

Things that can make the punishment less severe, including:

  • whether the offender was exceptionally cooperative with law enforcement;

  • is a good candidate for treatment;

  • has developmental disabilities.

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