2019 Bills

HB 244: One Day Misdemeanor Reduction

This bill passed the House and Senate unanimously. 

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it is aligned with our principles and merits support.

Reducing a jail sentence by one day probably seems like an insignificant change—even silly to most people. But for some individuals, it means everything. Representative Eric Hutchings is sponsoring House Bill 244 in order to change a class A misdemeanor from a penalty of 365 days down to 364 days. The reason behind this change is to ensure legal immigrants are not deported when they are found guilty of a class A misdemeanor.

The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act requires that any immigrant sentenced to a crime higher than a misdemeanor be immediately deported. But the federal government’s definition of a misdemeanor is anything punishable by a maximum of 364 days in jail. And in Utah, a class A misdemeanor carries a 365-day sentence—one day over the statutory federal requirement. Therefore, legal immigrants found guilty of a class A misdemeanor in Utah could be immediately deported, during or after their sentence, under the current laws.

This bill will change a class A misdemeanor sentence length by one day in order to match the definition of federal law. This will ensure legal residents aren’t deported for committing a low-level crime.