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 Prostitution Stings – Catching Culprits of Opportunity or Entrapment

Although paying or receiving funds for sexual activity is against the law, many wonder if Johns arrested during prostitution stings in Utah are culprits of opportunity or victims of entrapment.

Catching one of their own

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A prostitution sting on Valentine’s Day netted the arrest of 51 year old David Moss of Lehi, Utah. Undercover detectives with the Utah County Special Victims Task Force arrested Moss, who was a former police officer with the St. George Police Department after he responded to a prostitution ad online and met two undercover female detectives posing as prostitutes. Moss’s arrest came after he made several incriminating statements online and in person including offers to “manage” the prostitutes and hide their activity from police. He also followed these comments with inappropriate behavior directed at one of the undercover officers.

Patronizing a prostitute

Moss was arrested for multiple charges including patronizing a prostitute which is described by section 76-10-1303 as “when the individual:
(a) Pays or offers or agrees to pay a prostitute, or an individual the actor believes to be a prostitute, a fee, or the functional equivalent of a fee, for the purpose of engaging in an act of sexual activity; or
(b) Enters or remains in a place of prostitution for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.”

Pimps vs Johns

Moss is also facing charges of exploiting prostitution, a third degree felony compared to patronizing a prostitute which is punishable as a class A misdemeanor for a first defense. While patronizing a prostitute is the typical charge for “Johns”, exploiting prostitution would be the charge for the “pimps” or those wishing to recruit or manage others in prostitution. Third degree exploiting prostitution is defined by Utah Code 76-10-1305 as when “an individual:
(a) Procures an individual for a place of prostitution;
(b) Encourages, induces, or otherwise purposely causes another to become or remain a prostitute;
(c) Transports an individual into or within this state with a purpose to promote that individual’s engaging in prostitution or procuring or paying for transportation with that purpose;
(d) Not being a child or legal dependent of a prostitute, shares the proceeds of prostitution with a prostitute, or an individual the actor believes to be a prostitute, pursuant to their understanding that the actor is to share therein; or
(e) Owns controls, manages, supervised, or otherwise keeps, alone or in association with another, a place of prostitution or a business where prostitution occurs or is arranged, encouraged, supported, or promoted.”

Gray area

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Since Moss came prepared with an illegal business plan, it is hard to say he didn’t know what he was getting into unless his inappropriate business endeavor was all a ruse to impress the ladies. Regardless, his actions will be making a lasting impression; a negative one when he faces a judge in court. While Moss’s case could paint a pretty clear picture of how horrible his remarks and behavior was – he was not the one placing the ad; he was merely responding to it. If the ad hadn’t been there, would he have still made the illegal choices that he did? This is a common question that comes up following prostitution stings. Are stings a way to catch criminals or are they a non-biased trap to catch anyone who may happen by? Some otherwise innocent individuals caught in the frequent prostitution stings throughout the state often fall into a gray area where you wonder if they had actually planned to commit a crime or just reacted to a setting they were placed in. This gray area where one may question someone’s criminal intentions that often occurs with stings can be known as entrapment.

Opportunity or entrapment

Entrapment is defined Utah Code 76-2-303 as “. . . when a peace officer or a person directed by or acting in cooperation with the officer induces the commission of an offense in order to obtain evidence of the commission for prosecution by methods creating a substantial risk that the offense would be committed by one not otherwise ready to commit it.” While many arrested during prostitution stings may have been “. . . merely afford[ed] . . . an opportunity to commit an offense”, there is always a concern others were arrested solely based on the enticement of the officers. Anyone facing charges following a prostitution sting whether or not they may have been the victim of entrapment are encouraged to seek legal counsel immediately.

Utah Police Chief Arrested for Prescription Drug DUI

A Utah police chief was arrested for prescription drug DUI after a highway patrol officer observed the chief driving recklessly north of the town of Manua.

Reckless driving

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On a late January evening, Utah Highway Patrol trooper Kent Goodrich observed a Manua police vehicle driving at a high rate of speed down the median of Highway 89. Goodrich pulled the other police vehicle over and noted the driver, 49 year old Manua Police Chief Shane Zilles appeared to be inebriated. Zilles was cooperative, yet failed a field sobriety test and struggled answering simple questions being asked him as of him. Trooper Goodrich arrested Zilles as he was notably impaired and should not have been on the road putting other people and himself in danger.

Prescription Drug DUI

Zilles inability to pass the field test pointed to him likely being impaired by either alcohol or drugs. Although Zilles appeared to be intoxicated, there was no alcohol detected through a breathalyzer and a tox screen for street drugs came back negative as well. It was determined however that Zilles had not been drinking or using street drugs, yet he had consumed prescription drugs sometime prior to getting behind the wheel of the police cruiser. He was cited for prescription drug DUI and reckless driving.

Class B misdemeanor

Taking prescription drugs is not against the law if taken by the person to whom it is prescribed. It is unlawful however to drive after taking medication if it impairs the person’s ability to drive safely. Utah Code 41-6a-502 states “A person may not operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state if the person:

• . . . is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle”.

Section 41-6a-504 warns that “The fact that a person charged with violating section 41-6a-502 is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol or a drug is not a defense against any charge of violating [said section]. Even if the prescription if legal and valid, driving under the influence of prescription drugs that cause impairment is a class B misdemeanor as noted in section 41-6a-503. That DUI charge could be enhanced to a class A misdemeanor or third degree felony if there was bodily injury as a result of an accident or a minor passenger in the vehicle.

Medication side-effects

As a law enforcement officer, Zilles should have known better than to drive impaired. When alcohol or street drugs are involved, impairment is expected. Prescription drugs however could cause impairment that is unknown to the user. Regarding Zilles, there is some information that hasn’t been released yet:

• what type of prescription drugs he was taking; and
• Whether or not it was a new prescription or something he had experience taking and therefore would have known the side effects.

While there are some medications that are known to cause drowsiness and reduced ability to drive such as sleeping pills or narcotic pain meds, others can catch a person off guard by how much they affect their capability to drive safely. It is important to read the labels and all included paperwork with new medications to see if driving impairment is a possibility. If there is any doubt on whether or not impairment could be a factor when taking a prescription medication, drivers are urged to use caution and refrain from driving if possible. Anyone facing charges related to prescription drug DUI are encouraged to seek counsel from an experience attorney.

Human Trafficking of a Vulnerable Adult in Utah

Utah Human Trafficking laws up for amendments involving a vulnerable adult may cause legal trouble to those who are caring for a friend with mental illness or addiction. The Utah Human Trafficking laws are meant to catch and prosecute those who are practicing a modern version of slavery, but it can be misapplied to something as simple as expecting a ”live-In” friend with a drug addiction to clean the house in order to live at the residence.

Increased focus to stop human trafficking

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Human trafficking has become a major problem in the United States. Human trafficking can take on several faces such as transporting a person across state lines without their permission, forced prostitution or forced employment. This growing crime is on many law makers’ radar and most states have made changes to their current laws to address this problem. There are several new advocacy groups forming and many panel discussions to bring this problem to the forefront as well as increased education into the matter.

Training for professionals

In the effort to combat human trafficking, one beneficial step is to train those in certain employments to recognize the signs of a trafficked person. Some of those professions being encouraged to receive training on how to spot human traffickers or their victims are:

Truck drivers: Many states are requiring training on human trafficking in order to receive their CDL licenses. The hope is that truck drivers will see instances of people being transported against their will. Most rest areas and truck stops now have signs posted regarding human trafficking.

Medical professionals: Physicians are another occupation encouraged to receive training. Many people that have escaped from their captors had received medical care during their captivity. Doctors and nurses can see signs of abuse while treating a patient. They can also see signs of repeated abortions, STD’s, or infections which are all indications of a victim of human trafficking.

Law enforcement: Police officers are also important in the fight against human trafficking. Officers can be aware of the disconcerting interaction between two people. One example would be if a person has an attitude of servitude or fear when bailing out another.

Vulnerable adult

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Along with educating the public and certain professionals, laws regarding human trafficking have been amended to include protection for overlooked victims. In January House Bill 20 was amended to clarify the language for human trafficking and to add an offense for trafficking a vulnerable adult. The new bill for a vulnerable adult reads: “Human trafficking of a vulnerable adult for forced labor” while one place of forced labor is defined as being in “households”. According to Utah House Bill 0020:
“Vulnerable adult” means an elder adult, or an adult 18 years of age or older who has a mental or physical impairment which substantially affects that person’s ability to:
(i) provide personal protection;
(ii) provide necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, or medical or other health care;
(iii) obtain services necessary for health, safety, or welfare;
(iv) carry out the activities of daily living;
(v) manage the adult’s own resources; or
(vi) comprehend the nature and consequences of remaining in a situation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.”

With this addition to the human trafficking laws, it is possible that those responsible for looking out for the best interest of vulnerable adults such as medical professionals and law enforcement may misunderstand the dynamic of the home in which the vulnerable adult has been allowed to live.

Forced labor or earning your keep

With a push to end a societal problem, there are instances when innocent people can often be labeled as criminal human traffickers. There are many individuals in Utah who are struggling with a mental illness or a drug addiction that could cause them to be defined as a vulnerable adult. Family members or friends attempting to care for their struggling loved ones may face criminal charges if, in an attempt to help their loved one feel productive by pitching in around the house, they force them to perform household chores in order to “earn their keep”. While those carrying for a mentally ill or addicted vulnerable adult could feel they are serving that individual by encouraging productiveness, Utah law may see it as the vulnerable adult being forced to serve them. Anyone facing any charges stemming from their willingness to help a vulnerable adult are encouraged to seek immediate legal counsel from a qualified defense attorney.