man holding gun above drugs in Utah

Drug-related crimes include the use, possession, abuse, manufacture, growth, sale, and distribution of controlled substances. Utah has strict laws related to drugs. However, drug-related crimes can also include incidents of violence.

Violent crimes come with stricter sentences and harsher penalties than minor drug charges do. If you face charges for drug-related violence in Utah, you will need an experienced Utah drug crimes attorney that can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf.

Drug-Related Crimes

Drug-related charges include ones that involve any aspect of the distribution chain and use of a controlled substance. The nature of intoxication can lead to irrational, and violent behavior. 

Some instances of drug-related violence will also include cases in which a person who used a controlled substance carries out an act of violence at least in part because of the drugs present in their system.

Drug-related violence may also include violent actions that distributors may take, including kidnappings, murders, and crimes related to cartel gang activity. 

While any drug-related charges are serious, violent drug-related offenses are an even more significant concern. If you are faced with violent drug-related criminal charges, speak to an experienced Utah drug crime lawyer right away.

Drugs Affiliated with Violence

Some controlled substances are more likely than others to lead to acts of violence. The nature of intoxication varies based on the drug in question, and some substances can cause behavior changes that may put the user and others at a higher risk of violence. 


According to researchers, cocaine creates a threat of violence. Part of the problem with cocaine is that the distributors frequently resort to violence to protect their drug supply and territory. Gangs may commit violent acts, including assault while carrying out distribution activities.

According to law enforcement, individuals that use cocaine are at an increased risk for committing violent crimes. Reports state that some individuals who abuse cocaine have subsequently attacked and killed others, including police officers.


man with drugs associated to violence in Utah

Heroin users are less often involved in violent crime than many other drug users. Some instances of drug-related street gang violence have to do with the distribution of this drug in some of the state’s metropolitan regions. 

There have been reports of assaults against law enforcement officers and civilians through drive-by shootings, homicides, and carjackings that relate to heroin distribution. While some heroin users may commit a crime as a means of supporting their drug habits, heroin abusers do not typically exhibit violent behaviors related to their drug use.


In Utah, there have been some reports about violent actions related to marijuana distribution and production. One form of violence that often relates to marijuana production involves the use of armed guards to protect outdoor cultivation operations. Some dealers and street suppliers also engage in violence in their effort to protect or establish their territory or supply chain.


Methamphetamines are a particular concern for law enforcement officers in Utah. Individuals who abuse methamphetamines frequently carry out violent actions, including assault. 

Methamphetamine users go through a stage referred to as “tweaking,” in which they are particularly irritable when they have not slept for several days. These drug users often become frustrated because they crave more drugs. Methamphetamine can cause individuals to engage in violent actions, even when no one has provoked them.

Drug distributor violence also occurs in Utah. Drive-by shootings, assaults, and other crimes, including homicides, are frequently common in the drug trade relating to methamphetamines.

The Drug Cartel and Violence in Utah

Over the past few years, law enforcement officers have noticed an increase in drug cartel presence in Utah. Some of the crimes that relate to the cartel include incidents in which individuals disappear. Police say that these crimes present several challenges because the individuals that go missing are often undocumented immigrants without legitimate employment or other identifying information.

A cartel presence is often related to the increasing demand for certain drugs. The opioid crisis has fueled the growth of drug distribution in the state. Many individuals that are addicted to prescription oxycontin resort to heroin use as a substitute for the more expensive and often more difficult to obtain prescription drugs. 

Given the demand for these drugs, the distributors often generate exorbitant amounts of money.

Facing Charges for Drug-Related Violence

woman handcuffed with drugs in Utah

Drug-related crimes in Utah include misdemeanor offenses, as well as felonies.

While drug-related charges can lead to years behind bars, especially when a person is involved in the distribution or manufacturing of drugs, drug-related violence is a more severe offense.

Drug-related violent crimes can include the following:

Examples of drug-related violence would include:

  • An addict committing a burglary to gain money to support their addiction
  • A homicide committed by gang members against a rival gang for control of territory for drug distribution
  • A drug addict committing domestic violence while under the influence of a drug, like methamphetamines

Any of these crimes can lead to severe legal consequences.

Sentencing for Drug-Related Violence in Utah

blind justice statue in Utah drug court

In the case of homicide, drug-related violence can lead to life imprisonment. Some examples of the most severe felony homicides include cases in which a defendant targets law enforcement officers.

If the state charges you with a felony for drug-related violence, you and your lawyer will have to determine the degree of the allegations against you. 

Third-degree felonies are the least severely punished, with sentences of up to five years. Second-degree felonies in Utah increase the term to a maximum of fifteen years, while first-degree felonies can lead to life imprisonment. The best way to protect yourself if you are facing charges for drug-related violence in Utah is to hire an experienced drug crime lawyer.

Defending Against the Charges

Facing charges for violent crime is not the same as being convicted. If you are facing charges for drug-related violence, you have the right to defend yourself.

Common defenses will include a mistake of fact and self-defense. The possible defenses available to you will depend on the facts of your case. The only way to build a defense strategy is to speak to an experienced Utah drug crimes attorney.

Utah Drug Crimes Attorney:  Making the Right Hire

An experienced Utah drug crimes attorney can help you to protect your rights if you are facing allegations that you have committed a violent drug-related crime. The law presumes your innocence until the state can prove otherwise.Find out more about the ways that our attorneys can help defend you against the Utah drug laws today by reaching out to Schatz Anderson & Associates.