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!

Six Arrested in West Valley Gang-Related Shooting

Six individuals were arrested in West Valley City, Utah for what is being considered a gang-related shooting that has left a teenager paralyzed from the waist down.

Minors and adults involved

Gang-Related Shooting Investigation

Photo by: Christ Yarzab

The six individuals arrested were either directly involved or involved in incidents that led up to the shooting. The suspects included two teens who were 15 and 16 years old as well as four adults who were all barely legal at only 18 to 19 years old. The gang-related shooting took place after a meet up between two gangs in West Valley City where the use of a firearm was allegedly prearranged. During the incident, multiple shots were fired and a 16 year old victim was rushed to the hospital where it was determined a bullet had struck his spine, paralyzing him from the waist down.

Enhanced penalties for gang-related shooting

When a crime such as a gang-related shooting can be linked to a “criminal street gang” or even a small group of people, the charges can be increased or enhanced. Utah Code 76-3-203.1 states “the enhanced penalty for a:

(a) class B misdemeanor is a class A misdemeanor;

(b) class A misdemeanor is a third degree felony;

(c) third degree felony is a second degree felony;

(d) second degree felony is a first degree felony; “

According to the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, those arrested in the gang-related shooting incident were booked under charges including felony discharge of a firearm. Under normal criminal circumstances, discharge of a firearm which results in serious bodily injury of a person is already a first degree felony. According to the above code, the enhanced penalty for a “first degree felony is an indeterminate prison term of not less than five years in addition to the statutory minimum prison term for the offense, and which may be for life.”

“Criminal Street Gang”

Photo by: Alessandro Galantucci

Photo by: Alessandro Galantucci

Utah Code 76-9-802 defines a criminal street gang as “an organization, association in fact, or group of three or more persons, whether operated formally or informally:

(a) that is currently in operation;

(b) that has as one of its primary activities the commission of one or more predicate gang crimes;

(c) that has, as a group, an identifying name or identifying sign or symbol, or both; and

(d) whose members, acting individually or in concert with other members, engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity.

Small group of associates

Utah code 76-3-203.1 augments that enhanced penalties can result for those known to be in criminal street gangs, but also “in concert with two or more persons” which means “the defendant was aided or encouraged by at least two other persons in committing the offense and was aware of this aid or encouragement; and

(ii) each of the other persons:

(A) was physically present; or

(B) participated as a party to any offense listed in Subsection (5).”

(c) “In concert with two or more persons” means, regarding intent:

(i) other persons participating as parties need not have the intent to engage in the same offense or degree of offense as the defendant; and

(ii) a minor is a party if the minor’s actions would cause the minor to be a party if the minor were an adult.”

Attorney needed

Credit photo: Shane T. McCoy / US Marshals

Credit photo: Shane T. McCoy / US Marshals

The majority of people are aware of the safety and criminal risks associated with gang involvement, however they may not understand that the penalties for many crimes are increased solely on the fact that there are ties to criminal street gangs. Their surprise is even greater for those facing enhanced charges merely for working with two or more people to commit the crime. Although facing criminal charges without counsel is never recommended, it is particularly important to be represented by a qualified criminal defense attorney if facing enhanced charges due gang-relations or group criminal events.

Utah Couple Facing Voyeurism Charges after Using Drone to Invade Privacy of Neighbors

A Utah couple is facing class A misdemeanor voyeurism charges after they used a personal drone to invade the privacy of their neighbors.

Nosy drone

Photo by: Andrew Turner

Photo by: Andrew Turner

39 year old Aaron Dennis Foote of Orem, Utah and his 34 year old girlfriend Terisha Lee Norviel were arrested after a neighbor saw the drone filming through his open window, seized the unmanned aircraft, and handed it over to police. Authorities discovered the drone had been used to film multiple people while in their bedrooms and/or bathrooms on single level as well as multiple level residences. Police were able to quickly apprehend Foote and Norviel after using info collected by the drone including a picture of Foote’s face as well as his license plate.


According to Utah Code 76-9-702.7, there are various penalties associated with voyeurism. The penalty for voyeurism is a class B misdemeanor if the person “views or attempts to view an individual, with or without the use of any instrumentality;

(a) With the intent of viewing any portion of the individual’s body regarding which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, whether or not that portion of the body is covered with clothing;

(b) Without the knowledge or consent of the individual; and

(c) Under circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

That charge is increased to a Class A misdemeanor if the victim of voyeurism is a child less than 14 years of age.

Voyeurism using concealed electronic equipment

VoyeurismWhen concealed electronic equipment such as a hidden camera or a spy drone outside a window is used to commit voyeurism, the charge is increased to a class A misdemeanor or third degree felony if the voyeurism is committed against a child under 14 years of age. Again, the charges remain the same based strictly on intent. Whether or not the person committing voyeurism succeeded in viewing the private areas of the other individual(s) body remains irrelevant.

Criminal penalties

According to Utah State Courts:

• a third degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine;

• a class A misdemeanor carries a possible jail term of up to one year plus a $2,500 fine;

• Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Anyone facing charges for voyeurism, with or without a drone, should consult with a criminal defense attorney to discuss any felony or misdemeanor charges.

Paranoid Man Transporting Methamphetamine Calls Police, Gets Busted for Intent to Distribute

A man transporting methamphetamine along I-15 in Utah became paranoid he had a tail and proceeded to call police, only to get busted for intent to distribute.

Attempt to locate not needed

Photo by: Hunter McGinnis

Photo by: Hunter McGinnis

The 27 year old man, who has yet to be identified due to a falsified passport, was transporting more than 36 pounds of methamphetamine in sealed food containers when he called police to report he was being followed. Police arrived to a location off of Interstate 15 where the man was patiently waiting for the officers to arrive. Upon further discussion with the man, police were unable to find evidence the man was being followed, yet he was notably under the influence of drugs. It was then they discovered he was transporting nearly half a million dollars’ worth of methamphetamine.

Don’t sample the merchandise

This isn’t the first time a person transporting drugs through Utah has voluntarily notified police to their whereabouts. Just last January, two men transporting over 20 pounds of marijuana from Nevada to Idaho along I-15 in Utah called police right after crossing the Utah-Idaho border. The incredibly stoned duo were convinced various cars on the road were actually undercover police officers preparing to arrest them. Instead of dealing with the anxiety of waiting to get busted, the 22 year old and 23 year old called the unsuspecting police to get things over with quickly.

Felony methamphetamine distribution


Photo by: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Drug possession charges in Utah can be severe, and distribution or intent to distribute charges are far worse. According to Utah Code 58-37-8, “It is unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally:

(i) produce, manufacture, or dispense, or to possess with intent to produce, manufacture, or dispense, a controlled or counterfeit substance;

(ii) distribute a controlled or counterfeit substance, or to agree, consent, offer, or arrange to distribute a controlled or counterfeit substance;

(iii) possess a controlled or counterfeit substance with intent to distribute; ( . . . )”

A person convicted of intent to distribute methamphetamine or other Schedule I or II substance is guilty of a second degree felony, or a first degree felony upon subsequent convictions. Those possessing enough marijuana to be considered intent to distribute can face a third degree felony or second degree felony upon a subsequent conviction.

Let someone else represent in court

For those who are facing possession or distribution charges in Utah, even if those charges came about due to self-incriminating phone calls to police, it is always recommended to speak to a reputable criminal defense attorney to speak in your behalf.