Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney - Clayton Simms

new_clayton_about A criminal charge, whether it is a felony or misdemeanor, can be a life changing event. Clayton Simms is a fierce advocate for people who have been charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses. He represents clients who are facing charges in Salt Lake City and Greater Salt Lake County. In addition, he also represents clients along the Wasatch front. Clayton Simms represents defendants in other crimes Clayton has represented athletes, doctors, lawyers, and other notable people and has been featured on the news. Do you have a legal question? Contact Clayton Simms today!

School Security Locks Now Allowed to Barricade Classroom Doors in Utah

Utah Governor Gary Herbert has recently signed a bill allowing schools to install security locks to barricade classroom doors in the event of a school lockdown or drill.

Safety at school

Photo by: Phil Roeder

On the heels of yet another school shooting, parents continue to question their children’s safety while at school. While gun control is the hot topic, there are other measures to protect students. One of these safety measures is to allow teachers to barricade their doors to keep their students safe from dangerous situations that may be taking place elsewhere in the building or nearby the school. Until now, Utah law prohibited security locks on most classroom doors due to fire hazards. Now the state is letting each school district decide for themselves whether or not to install school security locks.

S.B. 87 – School Security Locks

S.B. 87 which Gov. Herbert signed “amends the International Building Code and International Fire Code regarding:

• Hardware height on a door for certain occupancies for purposes of a lockdown or a lockdown drill; and

• Door operations provisions for locks and bolts, and latching and unlatching, for certain occupancies for purposes of a lockdown or a lockdown drill;”

Specifically, classroom doors are now allowed to have “one lock below 34 inches” and “a second lock . . . for purposes of a lockdown or lockdown drill” as long as:

• “The application of the lock is approved by the code official.
• The unlatching of any door or leaf does not require more than two operations.
• The lock can be released from the opposite side of the door on which it is installed.
• The lock is only applied during lockdown or during a lockdown drill.
• The lock complies with all other state and federal regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act”.

Local school administrations

Photo by: Ignat Gorazd

Parents and teachers are encouraged to speak to the administrations of their local schools to see about implementing the new option to install school security locks. While this safety measure is permitted by Utah law, door barricades and locks are not funded on a state level. Schools and families should consult with each other to discuss the best course of action to fund this project to give added protection to their students within their district boundaries.

Penalties Increased for Killing a Police Dog

A new bill sponsored by Sen. Jani Iwamoto and Rep. Lowry V. Snow was put into effect this month, increases penalties for individuals who are charged with killing a police dog.

Dangerous job

Photo by: Michael

Police dogs have many jobs including detection of drugs or explosives, search and rescue, and apprehension of subjects on the run. Like other officers, their job is dangerous and can often result in death. This year alone, five police dogs have lost their lives – three of those while in the line of duty. In 2017, 24 canine officers were killed with one of those being a beloved member of the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake. Canine police service dog Dingo was killed in July 2017 while trying to apprehend a suspect on the run. The fugitive, 28 year old Torey Massey fired multiple shots at Dingo which later resulted in the death of the police dog. The following month in Washington County, another police dog was shot in the head by a subject attempting to flee police. Unlike K9 officer Dingo, K9 officer Tess miraculously survived.

Killing a police officer

Police dogs face similar dangers that their human partners do while attempting to apprehend dangerous subjects, yet the consequences of taking a police dog’s life have been drastically lenient than those consequences of causing the death of a human police officer. Killing a police officer is considered aggravated murder by Utah law which could land the person responsible in prison for life or even facing the death penalty. Killing a police dog however would result in a third degree felony, the same penalty an individual may face for selling marijuana. A new bill that was recently put into effect in Utah has now increased the penalties for those charged with killing a canine officer.

SB0057 – Causing the death of a canine officer

SB0057 was put into effect Tuesday,

Photo by: Michael

May 8th 2018 and makes drastic changes to Utah Code 76-9-306 regarding injuring or killing a police dog. While previously it was a third degree felony to kill a police dog, that section now states “It is a second degree felony for a person to intentionally or knowingly cause death to a police service canine.” A second degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, the same penalty for crimes such as robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Human lives vs animal lives

Some residents wonder why causing the death of a canine officer now comes with a stiffer penalty than if someone killed another person by driving while under the influence. There are a few reasons as to why killing a police dog would be punished more severely than drunkenly causing the death of a person.

• One major point is the intent. Section 76-9-306 states the second degree penalty is for those who “intentionally or knowingly” cause the death of a police dog. If a person “cause[s] bodily injury to a police service canine; engages in conduct likely to cause bodily injury or death to a police service canine; or lay[s] out, place[s] or administer[s] any poison, trap, substance, or object which is likely to produce bodily injury or death to a police service canine” then the person responsible would face a third degree felony-the same penalty as automobile homicide.

• Another reason why a police dog’s life may appear to carry more value than a person’s could be due to the K9’s close proximity to a human officer. Police dogs are always accompanied by their handler which means if someone shoots to kill a police dog, they are also putting the human officer at risk of serious injury or death as well. Increasing the penalties for killing a police dog may help keep other officers safe while in the line of duty.

Cooperate and consult an attorney

Running is never a recommended choice is fighting an arrest, as it can result in increased charges or safety concerns for the subject due to use of the unleashed service canine or even deadly force by law enforcement. If police officers attempt to arrest an individual it is best to be cooperative but consult legal representation before answering any questions. For more information on charges resulting from an arrest or an individual’s violent conduct towards officers or police dogs, speak to a qualified attorney immediately.

Compensatory Service in Lieu of Fine Amounts

Work it off or pay it off, the state of Utah now allows those convicted of an infraction or some misdemeanors to choose performing a compensatory service instead of paying a fine.

Monetary punishment

Photo by: 401(k) 2012

Anytime someone is found guilty of a crime, they have to pay the courts a fee as part of the punishment for their crimes. Depending on the severity of the crime, the fee can also be accompanied with jail or even prison time. The greater the charge, the heftier the monetary fine will be. While some residents can afford to dish out money for fines, others have a difficult or even impossible time affording the fine amount.

Another option for restitution

For those unable to bear the financial burden that results from their poor choices, the State of Utah now allows individuals to work off fine amounts with compensatory service instead. HB0248 put into effect last week has adjusted the ways in which someone can pay for their legal mistakes. This bill introduced compensatory service which is “service or unpaid work performed by a person, in lieu of the payment of a criminal fine”. Not all fines can be worked off however. The new compensatory service only applies “when a defendant is sentenced to pay a fine for an infraction, class C or class B misdemeanor”. Only then shall “the court consider allowing the defendant to complete compensatory service”. The option of compensatory service is not available for fines associated with felonies or class A misdemeanors.

Hourly “wage” for service

If someone chooses to work off their fine instead of paying for it, the new section 76-3-301.7 states “The court shall credit timely completed compensatory service reported . . . against the fine or bail amount at the rate of $10 per hour and shall allow the defendant a reasonable amount of time to complete the service.” For more information on potential fine or compensatory service amounts regarding pending criminal charges, speak with your legal counsel.