Teenage Suspect Arrested for Alleged Role in Utah Woman’s Murder

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Utah Crime News
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Photo: Jeff Kramer

Photo: Jeff Kramer

An 18-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the suspected aggravated murder of a Taylorsville woman, shortly before he was scheduled to fly out of the country to El Salvador.

What Happened?

The victim was discovered after family members contacted police, stating that she had not been seen or heard from for a few days. Law enforcement discovered her body inside her home and believe she died from suffocation.

Police seem to think that the suspect and the victim had some type of acquaintance, although it’s not known to what extent. The young man was tracked down due mainly to his suspected use of the victim’s ATM card. That card had been used several times since the woman was believed to have died.

The young man is being held pending investigation into numerous criminal charges, including aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, identity theft, etc.

When is Criminal Homicide Aggravated Murder?

There are several situations when criminal homicide constitutes aggravated murder. Some of those times include:

* when a person is poisoned and dies

* when there is some type of sexual assault and the victim dies

* if a weapon of mass destruction is used, resulting in one or more deaths

* when the homicide was committed in a heinous, cruel or exceptionally depraved manner (and the prosecution can prove such occurred)

* and many other situations

Even though the suspect is a teenager, he is 18 which means he is legally considered an adult and his case will be handled in adult district court.

We can assume that the prosecution, with the help of law enforcement, is busily preparing to file charges against this young man. Hopefully he has retained legal counsel who is also busy working for him.

Talk to a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

You don’t have to be charged with aggravated murder to benefit from the services of an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney. We have helped numerous clients from all walks of life who have been charged with myriad crimes, from misdemeanors to felonies.

If you’re in a legal jam, do yourself a favor and contact us today. You’ll be glad you did.

What is Utah Asset Forfeiture? Why Do Police Target Out of State Drivers?

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Dealing with Police
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Photo: doctorwonderr

Photo: doctorwonderr

Asset forfeiture is simply defined as law enforcement’s ability to seize a person’s assets. Many out of state drivers are targeted by the police as involved in the drug trade as couriers with either drugs (meth, cocaine or marijuana) or money in their car. Assets the police seek out are tangible possessions that hold value, such as a car, home, jewelry, cash, etc. Forfeiture is the actual act of taking those possessions by the police and prosecutor.

Who Is Subject To Asset Forfeiture?

Theoretically, a person only experiences asset forfeiture if he is a criminal who ends up convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, lots of average citizens have been subjected to asset forfeiture who were never charged with any crime.

Two Different Types of Forfeiture

There are actually two types of asset forfeiture: criminal and civil. Criminal asset forfeiture is supposed to occur when a defendant is convicted of a crime and the court finds that the property (which was named in the criminal indictment) was illegally tainted.

Civil asset forfeiture, however, allows law enforcement officers to seize property without having to prove that the property owner is guilty of any crime. Additionally, most civil asset forfeiture laws require the property owner prove his innocence, whereas criminal forfeiture dictates that the state must prove the property owner’s guilt.

There are currently two federal lawsuits against a Nevada law enforcement officer who allegedly performed illegal acts of civil forfeiture. In two cases, the same officer is accused of pulling two different men over and–after searching their cars–taking thousands of dollars in the men’s possession.

In both situations, the plaintiffs state that the officer didn’t charge the men with any crime–not even a traffic citation–and were basically threatened with being stranded in the Nevada desert if they didn’t comply with the officer. This threat could also apply in Utah. Who wants to be stranded in the West desert on I-80 in rural Utah? Law enforcement need to threaten out-of-state drivers directly, but the drivers may feel intimidated or harassed because of an unnecessary stop.

These men aren’t alone, either. There are other reports of police officers in other parts of the United States using civil asset forfeiture laws to the extreme, and in most situations the property owner is never charged with a crime.

Talk to a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Case

We strongly urge you to contact a Utah criminal defense attorney with experienced in asset forfeiture. Many times a portion, if not the entire amount, of the taken money or assets will be returned if you hire an attorney and challenge the forfeiture. Know your rights. Demand the return of your money. However, you need to do so intelligently. An attorney can guide you through the system and will help you in getting your money back, but will also help you avoid being charged with a crime.

Sexual Battery Charges Against Suspect in BYU Gropings

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Utah Crime News
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Photo: Jlhopgood

Photo: Jlhopgood

A Utah man has had two sexual battery charges filed against him in the case involving suspected gropings of female students on the BYU campus.

Just Out for a Jog?

Police think the man, Nathan Eric Fletcher, would dress in athletic wear and touch women’s breasts or buttocks as he jogged past the women. Police also noted that Fletcher has been aware that he was under investigation for the crimes.

There have been a total of 16 reported gropings, although at this point in time only two criminal charges were filed. Sexual battery in this case is a class A misdemeanor.

What is Sexual Battery?

Sexual battery can be charged if a person intentionally touches (whether or not through clothing) a person’s:

* anus

* buttocks

* any part of the other person’s genitals

* a female’s breast

while knowing that their actions will likely cause affront or alarm. Other crimes such as rape, object rape, aggravated sexual assault and so forth, are not considered sexual battery and are charged differently.

If a person is found guilty of a class A misdemeanor, he or she may be sentenced to up to one year in jail. Anytime someone is charged with multiple counts of the same crime, he faces the possibility of serving consecutive or concurrent sentences.

Consecutive sentences are served one after the other, while concurrent sentences are served at the same time.

Contact a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney Today

It’s always in your best interest to talk to a reputable Utah criminal defense attorney if you are charged with any crime. We represent defendants charged with a variety of crimes, from simple misdemeanors all the way to capital felonies and everything in between.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for advice in your criminal case. We are experienced Utah criminal defense attorneys with a passion for serving our clients well.

Dealing with a Hate Crime Under Utah Law

Salt Lake Police are investigating a recent occurrence that may end up being designated as a hate crime.

What Happened?

The situation the police are dealing with involves a gay man, his straight friend and another group of individuals who allegedly were less than kind towards the gay man–although his friend was the one that ended up getting punched, actually knocked unconscious. Police are still looking for the alleged puncher.

A hate crime can be charged when a person commits a “primary offense” (which we’ll describe in a moment) with the intent to intimidate or terrorize another person or who believes that his action(s) will intimidate or terrorize someone.

A primary offense can be any one of the following:

* assault

* misdemeanor property destruction

* criminal trespass

* misdemeanor theft

* offenses obstructing government operations

* offenses interfering with activities of colleges and universities

* misdemeanor offenses against public order and decency

* telephone abuse offense

* cruelty to animals offense

* weapons offense

If a person commits a class C misdemeanor primary offense and it’s related to a hate crime, he will likely be charged with a class B misdemeanor. A class B misdemeanor primary offense would go up to a class A misdemeanor.

When a person is convicted of a hate crime, he is subject to the sentencing judge’s determination of how his crime affected other people–including public harm and fear for one’s safety.

Call Us If You Need an Expert Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

Even though most people learn from a very young age to keep their hands to themselves, some folks just don’t remember that advice in times of stress. That’s where we come in. We’re not here to judge you, just provide you with a top notch criminal defense. Remember, the best policy is to not commit a hate crime, but if you have been falsely accused of a hate crime you certainly need a top-notch attorney by your side.

Committing Offenses Against Members of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Utah Legal Definition
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Photo: Donna Benjamin

Photo: Donna Benjamin

A Utah man already serving a lengthy prison sentence has been charged with a third degree felony after he allegedly sent a threatening letter to the Board of Pardons and Parole.

Poison Pen Letter a Threat or Expression of Boredom?

The man supposedly sent a letter containing non-specific threats to the Board’s office; that letter somehow suggests the possibility of assaulting, murdering or kidnapping a judge or member of the Board. It’s reported that the suspect stated he didn’t have a certain person he was angry at–just the entire Board.

Crimes Against Judges and Board of Pardons Members

There is actually a law that is designated just for crimes against judges and members of the Board of Pardons and Parole. That law is broken down into four sections:

*Threatening assault, murder or kidnapping is a third degree felony–as previously mentioned

*Committing assault is a second degree felony

*Committing aggravated assault is a first degree felony

*Committing attempted murder is also a first degree felony

In addition to the above items being crimes, a person could also be charged with the same crime(s) if he commits any assault, attempted murder, etc., upon someone who is a judge’s or Board of Pardon’s family member. Also, the crimes listed here would have to occur in conjunction with the person’s official duties.

Let an Experienced Utah Criminal Defense Attorney Help You

It’s always in your best interest to discuss any criminal charges you’re facing with a respected Utah criminal defense attorney. Regardless of what you may–or may not–have done, you deserve to have the best defense possible.

Talk to us if you have questions about a criminal case you are involved with. It may be the best choice you’ll ever make.

Distracted Driver Amendments–Changes in Utah Law Regarding Driving and Using a Cell Phone

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Utah Law
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Photo: Chris Phan

Photo: Chris Phan

The governor has signed into law some amendments to the current law concerning distracted driving–basically using a cell phone while behind the wheel.

Cell Phone Driving Laws Will Change

The law as it currently stands allows drivers to make and receive phone calls, etc., but bans texting while driving. The amendments, which go into effect on May 13, will further curtail Utah drivers’ legal abilities to use or otherwise manipulate a cell phone while driving.

With few exceptions, a person may not use a hand-held device (which we are going to call a cell phone, for ease) to:

* write, send or read

* texts

* instant messages

* emails

* dial a phone number

* access the internet

* view or record video

* enter data

Only Times You Will Legally Be Able to Use a Cell Phone While Driving

A person can use a cell phone while driving:

* by voice

* to check GPS or other navigation

* during a medical emergency

* to report a safety hazard

* to report criminal activity

* if he’s an on-duty law enforcement officer or other on-duty emergency service personnel

A basic violation of this law may result in you being charged with a class C misdemeanor and a maximum $100 fine. You could be charged with a class B misdemeanor, however, if someone receives serious bodily injury as a result of your not following this law or you have previous convictions under this law.

Let Us Help You

A class C misdemeanor and possible $100 fine may not seem like much, but no one wants to have a criminal record if at all possible. If you find yourself in trouble with this or any other law, contact a reputable Utah criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

We are here to help you fight any criminal charges you’re up against–make that important call today.

Utah State Prison Unveils New 100% Organic Food Menu, which is Now Gephardt Approved!

The Utah State Prison announced a new and improved meal plan for inmates. The new menu plan includes an emphasis on lean meats, which includes turkey, chicken and fish, rather than the traditional “mystery meat” that questionably fit for human consumption. The menu also includes 100% organic locally grown fruits and vegetables.

The Utah Board of Pardons released the following statement:
Serving organic, fresh food will in the long term improve inmate health. The new meal plan will actually reduce the medical costs for inmates. Because the public would rather fund prisons than schools, we need to accept the fact that Utah’s prison population will continue to grow older and older. Due to the longer prison sentences the average age of inmates has increased significantly, thus healthy food options are a smart move. In addition, we are very proud to be the first correctional institution that is Gephardt Approved!

Achieving Gephardt Approved status was a very difficult and challenging process. Mr. Gephardt himself spent 2 1/2 weeks in the gang unit wing of the prison to understand the Prison and to make sure he personally approved of the menu changes. Inmates in the gang unit were initially skeptical of Mr. Gephardt, but ultimately the Peckerwoods accepted him. (Please see video below). They even gave him the moniker of “Papa Smurf “. The inmates and Mr. Gephardt spent time knitting winter hats for underprivileged children and making origami owls, flowers and panda bears for the Children’s Hospital. “I’ll never forget the two and half weeks I spent with the fellas at the point” Gephardt gushed “but I’ve got to move on and examine auto body shops, nail salons and plastic surgeons, who are also seeking my approval.” On a more serious note, Gephardt reaffirmed the need for prisons and stated “Thank God for prisons! Some of those inmates truly deserved to be locked up.”

Inmate Ima Freebird stated “It’s about time the prison changed the menu, I’ve had the exact same breakfast, lunch and dinner for 18 years. The attitude of my fellow inmates has improved along with the new and improved food. I have more energy and pep, and at the same time I’m lost that urge to stab my cellmate,who snores too much at night. Overall I’m happy with the menu changes and I’m glad the Prion is finally respecting my Vegan, Kosher meal choices.”

However, not everyone is exciting about the changes. Utah State Senator Quackenbush (not Gephardt Approved!), stated “the changes to the prison menu plan are outrageous. Who eats fruits and vegetables anyway? We should feed them McRib sandwiches all day, everyday.” Quackenbush added “Why do we always need to improve people’s lives? Why can’t we just help the corporations and rich folks that fund our campaigns? Corporations are people too.”

Peckerwood Video:

Utah Man Previously Accused of Multiple Felonies Has All Charges Dismissed

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Hiring a Lawyer
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A Utah man is likely feeling a great deal of relief after the numerous felonies he was facing have all been dismissed by the prosecution.

Thirteen First Degree Felonies

The man had initially been charged with 13 first degree felonies (in February 2013) stemming from allegations of rape and aggravated sexual abuse of a child. The charges came about after a teenage girl claimed she and the man had a sexual relationship spanning at least a couple of years.

The girl went so far as to testify in court about the alleged relationship. Fortunately, this man’s defense attorney was able to help show a lack of physical evidence as well as point out significant inconsistencies in the supposed victim’s statements.

All Felonies Dropped–Case Dismissed

Both the defense and prosecution finally came to the same conclusion: there was no physical relationship whatsoever between the two people. The defense attorney in this case noted that it was beneficial to have the charges dropped as opposed to going through a trial which still would have proved him innocent.

What to Look for In a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

This case is a perfect situation for showing the benefits of having a competent, experienced Utah criminal defense attorney on your team from the very beginning of any legal trouble. If you are in a bind, look for an attorney who

* has courtroom experience

* a history of getting the best possible outcome for his clients

* is easy to talk to and who wants to help you

* knows how to deal with prosecutors and law enforcement

When you’re in the grips of a criminal case, you don’t want to go with a newbie. We have a proven track record of helping our clients and will do the same for you. Contact us today.

Utah House Bill 75 (HB 75) Concerning the Civil Rights of Nonviolent Felons and Their Handling of Dangerous Weapons

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Constitutional Rights
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Photo: Patrick Feller

Photo: Patrick Feller

There is a part of Utah law that restricts the rights of certain people’s ability to possess, purchase, transfer or own dangerous weapons. The Utah legislature recently passed a bill, House Bill 75, which allows some nonviolent felons to possess, own, etc., dangerous weapons.

The People Currently Restricted from Using Dangerous Weapons

There are two categories of restricted persons who cannot legally handle a gun (for example). A Category I restricted person is someone who:

* has been convicted of any violent felony

* is on probation or parole for any felony

* is on parole from a secure facility

* has (within the past 10 years) been adjudicated delinquent for an offense which would have been a violent felony if committed by an adult

* is an illegal alien or otherwise unlawfully in the U.S.

There is also the group of Category II restricted persons. This category includes people who are unlawful users of controlled substances, someone found not guilty by reason of insanity for a felony offense, a person who’s been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces, etc.

The change in the law allows people who have been convicted of a felony related to

* antitrust violations

* unfair trade practices

* restraint of trade

* or other similar offenses relating to the regulation of business practices not involving theft or fraud

to be given back their right to possess dangerous weapons under certain circumstances. The law change also allows people who have had a conviction expunged, set aside, reduced to a misdemeanor by court order, pardoned or otherwise had their civil rights restored to possess dangerous weapons, unless otherwise ordered.

We’re Here to Help You

If this is all as clear as mud, don’t worry. Even though laws are created by people for people, they aren’t always easy to understand. If you have any questions concerning this or any other law, contact a Utah criminal defense attorney.

We are here to make sure that you and your Constitutional rights are being protected. Call us today if you need the advice of experienced Utah criminal defense attorneys.

Utah Man Arrested for Aggravated Robbery after Fairly Obvious Getaway

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Utah Crime Related Videos
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Photo: Visionary Supervillain

Photo: Visionary Supervillain

A Utah man is in custody after being arrested for investigation of robbery at a Magna convenience store.

Aggravated Robbery Precedes Running Down Street with Gun

A couple of police officers may have been a bit surprised to see a man wearing a full-face ski mask running down a Magna area street. Of course, they were probably even more surprised once they realized he was carrying part of a cash register and a gun.

The officers followed the masked man and were just about to talk to him when they got word that a local convenience store had just experienced an armed robbery. The store’s clerk said that the robber demanded money and the clerk gave it to him. At some point, the man got behind the counter and supposedly took off with part of the cash register.

That’s where the police driving down the street came in. They found the man and tried to question him, but he wouldn’t stop. The officers finally stopped the man as he headed through someone’s yard. He’s now being investigated for aggravated robbery.

This particular suspect doesn’t have a lengthy criminal history; in fact, the only thing he’s been arrested for was a misdemeanor intoxication charge several years ago, to which he pleaded no contest.

Talk to a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Obviously this guy isn’t the most experienced thief around, and although we don’t advocate armed robbery as the best way to get money, we are here to help anyone who’s facing criminal charges regardless of the severity of the crimes they’re accused of.

If you or someone you know is in a legal bind or may already be sitting in jail, give us a call. We are experienced Utah criminal defense attorneys with a proven track record of working hard for each of our clients. Don’t wait to get the help you need. Make that important call today.