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!

Utah Veteran with History of Making Threats Arrested For Sending a Biological Toxin to Government

A Utah veteran with a history of making threats against government officials was arrested after he sent letters to the President, the Pentagon, and a Texas Senator containing a substance that tested positive for a biological toxin.

Disgruntled citizen

Photo by: Andy Rennie

39 year old William Clyde Allen III of Logan, Utah who is a former member of the United States Navy was arrested on multiple federal charges after he sent envelopes containing crushed up castor beans, the source of the biological toxin ricin, to government and state officials. Allen also claimed to have sent similar letters to top officials in other countries as well. This wasn’t Allen’s first threat against the government. Within the last four years, Allen has also made death threats against the President and a threat of mass destruction against a military base in Texas. During the most recent incident involving the mailed substance, Allen undeniably went too far and is now facing federal charges of threatening to use a biological toxin.

Biological weapons

While Allen’s previous threats turned out to be nothing more than him taking a troubling approach to expressing frustration, they have now escalated from verbal and written intimidation to threats accompanied by a deliberate action to cause injury or death. 18 U.S. Code § 175 states “Whoever knowingly develops, produces, stockpiles, transfers, acquires, retains, or possesses any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system for use as a weapon, or knowingly assists a foreign state or any organization to do so, or attempts, threatens, or conspires to do the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years or both.”

Lack of mental clarity

While Allen could be facing life in federal prison for his biological attack, some question Allen’s mental awareness and whether or not he fully understands the gravity of the situation. For starters, he didn’t actually obtain the poison ricin. What he had was castor beans that he bought off the internet and sloppily ground up and distributed to random government officials. Accompanying the chunky powder substance, which wasn’t harmful in its current state, were notes that appeared to make a nod toward the fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk. Additionally, Allen seemed more upset at missing his weekend plans than he did to spending his life in federal prison. His behavior doesn’t necessarily reflect someone who intended the worst with a biological weapon. Hopefully the penalty for this outlandish scheme includes a mental health evaluation and the necessary psychological help he so obviously needs.

Bad Acid Trip Ends in Attempted Murder with a Meat Cleaver

A bad acid trip in Orem, Utah ended in one man missing an ear and the other facing charges for attempted murder with a meat cleaver.

LSD and weapons

Photo by: Jordi Sabaté

30 year old Mackenzie Ulibarri and 27 year old Jordan Smith were allegedly tripping on acid together when an altercation broke out between the two roommates. Reports state Ulibarri was upset with Smith being loud and echoing the same phrases repeatedly. The way these mannerisms were viewed was likely to be enhanced due to the effects of the hallucinogens and Ulibarri claimed to be scared by his roommate’s behavior. He then fired a weapon at Smith and when that didn’t work, he attacked him with a meat cleaver. Smith suffered several injuries, including one of his ears being detached completely. Ulibarri was arrested on multiple charges including attempted murder.

Attempted murder

Utah Code 76-4-102 states “Criminal attempt to commit [murder] . . . is a first degree felony punishable by imprisonment for an indeterminate term of not fewer than three years and which may be for life”. Utah Code 76-4-101 adds “a person is guilty of an attempt to commit a crime if he:

(a) Engages in conduct constituting a substantial step toward commission of the crime; and
(b) (i) Intends to commit the crime; or
(c) (ii) When causing a particular result is an element of the crime, he acts with an awareness that his conduct is reasonably certain to cause that result.”

Awareness while hallucinating?

When an individual is under the influence of a hallucinogen such as LSD, there is usually little to no awareness of reality. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states: “some hallucinogens interfere with the action of the brain chemical serotonin, which regulates:

• Mood
• Sensory perception
• Sleep
• Hunger
• Body temperature
• Sexual behavior
• Muscle control

Other hallucinogens interfere with the actions of the brain chemical glutamate, which regulates:

• Pain perception
• Responses to the environment
• Emotion
• Learning and memory”

NIH goes on to note: “short-term effects of some hallucinogens include: . . .

• Mixed senses (such as “seeing” sounds or “hearing” colors)
• Spiritual experiences
• Feelings of relaxation or detachment from self/environment . . .
• Panic
• Paranoia – extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
• Psychosis – disordered thinking detached from reality”.

With such an overall effect on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional state, it is not surprising to note that someone tripping on acid may not have the awareness necessary to know what they are doing or what the consequences of their actions may be.

Temporary, yet voluntary insanity

When someone makes the conscious choice to partake in a substance known to skew a person’s reality or decision-making skills even to the point of making them temporarily insane, they are also taking the responsibility of any criminal activity they may perform while under the influence of that substance. According to Utah Code 76-2-305, “It is a defense to a prosecution under any statute or ordinance that the defendant, as a result of mental illness, lacked the mental state required as an element of the offense charged. . .[however] A person who asserts a defense of insanity or diminished mental capacity, and who is under the influence of voluntarily consumed, injected, or ingested alcohol, controlled substances, or volatile substances at the time of the alleged offense is not excused from criminal responsibility on the basis of mental illness if the alcohol or substance caused, triggered, or substantially contributed to the mental illness.”

Criminal defense

Those individuals who are facing charges stemming from criminal actions while under the influence of alcohol or drugs such as hallucinogens are encouraged to seek legal counsel from an experienced attorney who can help find valid defense opportunities pertinent to each specific case.

Utah Mother Charged After Beating Son with Broom for Not Doing Chores

A Utah mother was charged with child abuse for beating her son with a broom after the teen refused to do his chores.

Extreme discipline

Photo by: Christopher Sessums

52 year old Irene Pupa of West Valley, Utah was arrested after her 14 year old son was found bleeding from the head with multiple abrasions on his body. Upon investigating the incident, authorities discovered that Pupa had become angry at her son after he blatantly refused to do chores. Pupa took the broom her son was supposed to be cleaning with and hit him over the head with it. She then proceeded to strike her son multiple times on his body as well. The boy was taken to the hospital where it was determined he had bleeding on the brain and a skull fracture.

Felony child abuse

Pupa was booked into the Salt Lake County jail on second degree felony child abuse. Utah Code 76-5-109 states that “Any person who inflicts upon a child serious physical injury, or having the care or custody of such child, causes or permits another to inflict serious physical injury upon a child is guilty of an offense as follows:
(a) If done intentionally or knowingly, the offense is a felony of the second degree;
(b) If done recklessly, the offense is a felony of the third degree; or
(c) If done with criminal negligence, the offense is a class A misdemeanor.”

Anger management

Although Pupa was charged with “intentionally or knowingly” harming her son, she may have not wanted to harm him but did so while in a fit of rage. Like many parents, she could have felt extreme anger with her son’s disrespectful tone and may have been dealing with such behavior for a great length of time. Snapping at kids and inflicting pain on them is not only illegal, but studies have shown it to be less effective than other methods of dealing with parental issues. Parenting teens requires a great deal of patience and keeping a level head during arguments, and those who are unable to do so may benefit greatly from anger management and parenting classes to learn some of these other coping methods for dealing with difficult children. These classes may be taken at the choice of parents and are often court ordered following a family incident. Hopefully Pupa and other parents who struggle with disciplining their teens receive the help they needs to successfully parent their children in a loving and effective manner.