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!

Impaired Driving – The Reduced DUI Charge for Utah Drivers

Utah drivers who are arrested for a DUI need to know there’s a chance they may be offered a reduced charge known as impaired driving. Although this charge is slightly better than a DUI, it is best to consult with a criminal defense attorney to find out if it is the best option available.

Don’t settle without legal counsel

DUI

Photo by: SanDiego DUIAttorney

When a driver is arrested for a DUI, they may accept whatever charges are thrown at them; this is a major mistake that many Utah drivers make. There is a possibility that a DUI charge can be reduced to impaired driving instead. The option for this reduced charge is not something the prosecution will always offer voluntarily, so it is encouraged to have an educated attorney on your side can help ensure this option is available to those who qualify. If a prosecutor willingly and swiftly offers a plea bargain of impaired driving, it is best to consult with an attorney before agreeing as there may be a better option out there.

DUI-Driving under the influence

A DUI is what Utah Code 41-6a-502 defines as “driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both or with specified or unsafe blood alcohol concentration”. A person may face a DUI charge if they operate a vehicle with a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 grams or higher. They may also face a DUI charge if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs which would “render the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle.” If someone is arrested for a DUI, it is considered a class B misdemeanor and the guilty party can plan on spending at least 48 hours of jail time, losing their Utah’s driver’s license, and dishing out a hefty fine.

DWI – driving while impaired (impaired driving)

Impaired Driving

Photo by: SanDiego DUIAttorney

DUI and impaired driving; these two terms may sound like different ways of saying the same thing, but there are slight differences that are important to understand. Impaired driving is considered a reduced DUI charge of one degree and according to Utah Code 41-6a-502.5, “[w]ith the agreement of the prosecutor, a plea to a class B misdemeanor violation of [a DUI] may be entered as a conviction of impaired driving ( . . . ) if:

a) The defendant completes court ordered probation requirements; or

b) (i) the prosecutor agrees as part of a negotiated plea; and

(ii) the court find the plea to be in the interest of justice.”
Those facing impaired driving charges are less likely to spend time in jail and will usually have a smaller fine.

Additionally, those facing impaired driving charges will typically either have their driver’s license suspended for half the time of what can happen with a DUI or they may not lose their license at all.

Not for everyone

Not all DUI charges have the potential for being reduced to an impaired driving charge. These plea deals are saved for those who are first time offenders without a criminal history. If someone is hurt or if a minor is in the vehicle at the time of arrest, then a DUI charge will not decrease but increase instead to a class B misdemeanor. If a person is seriously injured because of someone negligently driving under the influence, then the charges can increase even higher to a third degree felony. This is the same charge for repeat offenders with two or more convictions of a DUI or impaired driving within the last 10 years. Regardless of whatever charges a defendant is facing, a criminal defense attorney will help ensure the best possible outcome for his client.

Pedestrian and Others Injured in Dog Attack

Three women are recovering from injuries after a dog attack which first targeted a pedestrian and then two bystanders who rushed to help.

Two animals involved in dog attack

Dog Attack

Photo by: State Farm

20 year old Sierra Coe of Millville Utah was walking home from the post office when she was attacked by two animals, a 4 year old Pit Bull and 10 month old Great Dane who had escaped their yard. Two female neighbors heard Coe’s screams for help and rushed to her aid, only to be attacked themselves. Although both animals were involved in the dog attack, the physical injuries which included deep puncture wounds and damaged tendons were done almost entirely by the Pit Bull.

Dog’s fate sealed, owner’s pending

The 4 year old Pit Bull who the owners were trying to rehabilitate had a history of biting and ended up being euthanized. The Great Dane puppy will undergo observation and training before being placed for adoption by Cache County Animal Control. The owners of the two dogs may end up facing criminal charges, pending an investigation. There is also no word yet on whether or not the victims will seek compensation for their injuries.

One bite rule not in Utah

Many states use what is called the one bite rule regarding dog attacks. This means that the first time a dog bites a person then the owner shouldn’t face charges as long as the dog had no violent history and the owners weren’t negligent in any way. In Utah however, every dog is not allowed “one free bite”. Utah Code 18-1-1 which amends the one bite law states “Every person owning or keeping a dog is liable in damages for injury committed by the dog, and it is not necessary in the action brought therefor to allege or prove that the dog was of a vicious or mischievous disposition or that the owner or keeper of the dog knew that it was vicious or mischievous.” The first time a dog bites someone, the owners are liable even if the dog didn’t show any prior signs of aggression.

Consult an attorney

Although it may seem that charges are inevitable following a dog attack, there are always factors to take into account such as provocation by the victim that may remove all or partial blame from the owners. For this reason, it is best to consult with an attorney if facing charges following a dog attack.

Uptick of Family Disputes and Violence on Thanksgiving

Law enforcement has noted that there is an uptick of calls regarding family disputes or violence between family members during the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving. There are things that can be done to help avoid sticky situations and keep the peace during the upcoming family festivities.

Picture perfect

Photo by: Andrea Goh

Photo by: Andrea Goh

Thanksgiving Day is a time when many people gather together with their relatives to enjoy a magnificent feast. They may envision laughing while good memories are shared and made with everyone eating delicious food and sipping on bubbly. Luckily, this is the reality for some families. Others however, dread the upcoming holiday knowing that Great Aunt Beatrice is probably going to say something snarky about a cousin’s questionable relationship while after four to five glasses of champagne, Uncle Joe usually loses his ability to filter the words that exit his mouth. Unfortunately, during Thanksgiving or other family get-togethers, it is not rare to have family disputes arise that can quickly escalate into violence.

It begins…

Photo by: Paul Townsend

Photo by: Paul Townsend

While the meal itself can be a joyous part of Thanksgiving, the time leading up to dinner time can be stressful for those responsible for feeding a small army. This stress becomes evident as people head out shopping for the ingredients needed to complete their glorious spread. Grocery stores are usually jam-packed leading up to Thanksgiving with hundreds of other people with not only the same idea, but often with a shopping list similar to those around them. When the pumpkin pies run out or stuffing mix is nowhere to be found, some may start to lose their cool. Others might manage to maintain their composure until they make it home where their stress can lead to agitation and tension between family members.

Wanted (and unwanted) house guests

Family Disputes

Photo by: Corey Balazowich

If hotels have no vacancy or family members want to save money on lodging, they may be invited (or invite themselves) to stay with family members in the area they are visiting. When multiple family members get crammed under one roof, differences of opinions are to be expected. Some arguments may arise due to bedrooms and bathrooms being reluctantly shared; too many know it all cooks in the kitchen; or family members who are not on good terms with each other being forced to rub shoulders more than desired. Any of these or other uncomfortable circumstances can cause already delicate situations to escalate. Sometimes family disputes quickly fizzle out, other times they simmer only to explode later on into physical confrontations.

Prepare and avoid family disputes

Everyone knows the holidays can be stressful and that every member of the family is likely to be in attendance at family gatherings, whether or not they are entirely welcome. With this foresight in mind, it might be wise to prepare for uncomfortable situations and avoid things that can cause disputes to spiral into violence.

Photo by: tinaxduzgen

Photo by: tinaxduzgen

Some suggestions to help limit intense arguments and calls to law enforcement include:

• Avoid hot button topics. If hot button topics such as religion or politics are liable to spark heated debates that can turn physical, make it a rule to avoid these while stuck together at a table.

• Seating chart. Recommend to the host a seating chart that will keep certain people apart who are more likely to argue.

• Limit embarrassing or unpleasant storytelling. If stories from the past aren’t enjoyable for everyone, leave them behind and interject immediately if these reminiscences begin to surface. This is easier for the host to do, as they should have a say in what goes on in their home.

Photo by: jenny downing

Photo by: jenny downing

• Keep the drinking to a minimum. Excessive alcohol consumption has a way of turning a simple argument into an all-out fist fight.

• Get out of there. If a family dinner turns hostile, it may be time to leave. If things do turn into physical confrontations, it is better not to be an involved party when law enforcement gets called in.

• Be a peacemaker. Often it can take a single person to help lighten the mood when things begin to go sour. Be thankful and courteous; patient and understanding. Set the tone and others will hopefully follow suit.