Former Utah Teacher Convicted of Sexual Abuse of a Student Arrested for Probation Violation

A former Utah teacher convicted of sexual abuse of a student was arrested this month for probation violation as well as charges of drug distribution.

Drug distribution charges

29 year old Sarah Lindsay Lewis, a former Spanish Fork high school teacher arrested last year for unlawful sexual activity with a minor was arrested again; this time for dealing methamphetamine out of her car. Earlier this month, Lewis was apprehended by the Major Crimes Task Force with drug paraphernalia and enough methamphetamine to generate distribution charges.

Probation violation

Lewis was previously arrested in January 2017 for unlawful sexual activity with one of her students at a high school in Spanish Fork, Utah. Although she is not facing additional sex abuse charges, she was found to be in violation of her probation and sentenced to three days in jail. According to the Utah Department of Corrections all probationers, regardless of what previous crime they were convicted of, are to abide by the standard conditions of probation which include:

• Permitting visits to home, work, and elsewhere;
• Report as directed and stay in Utah and at established residence if ordered to do so;
• Obey all laws;
• Not possess any weapons;
• Permit searches;
• Not associate with others involved in criminal activity;
• Obtain and maintain employment;
• Be cooperative and honest with AP&P;
• Pay supervision fee;
• Submit DNA;
• Comply with curfew;
• Comply with Case Action Plan; and
• “Abstain from the illegal use, possession, control, delivery, production, manufacture or distribution of controlled substances (58-37-2 U.C.A) and submit to tests of breath or body fluids to ensure compliance with the Probation Agreement.”

Penalties for violating probation

There are additional conditions that are added for those convicted of gang related crimes or sex offenses, but the standard conditions apply to all probationers. Those who violate the conditions of their probation may face immediate arrest and a hearing where their probation may be “revoked, modified, continued, or reinstated for all or a portion of the original term” as stated by Utah Code 77-18-1. Those facing probation violations are encouraged to obtain legal defense counsel prior to this hearing where the fate of their probation is decided.

Statute of Limitations for Criminal Cases in Utah

What is the statute of limitations for criminal cases in Utah and how does it differ for misdemeanors and felonies?

A quiet case doesn’t mean a closed case

Photo by: mao_lini

Sometimes when a crime has occurred, the person suspected of the crime is questioned, arrested, and soon after faces their day in court. Other times, the case can drag on as law enforcement and prosecutors gather evidence and testimonies in order to build their case against the suspect. When there has been no activity or questioning related to the case for weeks or months at a time, it may give those involved a false sense of security that they have somehow dodged an arrest and are in the clear. Imagine their surprise down the road when the investigation picks up speed and they end up facing charges after all. This may not seem fair and those facing delayed charges may wonder why so much time is able to pass while they remained in legal limbo. Surprisingly however, Utah law grants law enforcement and prosecutors a lengthy window of time to file criminal charges, with some cases being granted no limit on time.

Time limit for criminal charges

Most cases have a set amount of time that they can remain in “waiting” for prosecutors to conjure up charges. This time limit to file charges is known as the statute of limitations. According to Utahcourts.gov, “A statute of limitations is the time allowed to file a court case. Statutes of limitation apply in both civil and criminal cases. The statute of limitations for some cases is as short as six months, while some serious criminal offenses have no limit and can be files at any time, even decades after the crime occurred. Most statutes of limitation range from one to eight years.” Once the statute of limitations for that crime is over, any suspects in the case will be free any possibility of facing charges as Utah Courts declare “. . . the defendant cannot be prosecuted for that offense.”

Criminal statute of limitations

Photo by: Marcin Wichary

The waiting game is difficult, especially when one is waiting to see if their life will drastically change due to criminal charges. If someone knows what type of charge they could be facing, they may be able to have an idea of how long the case could legally sit open prior to charges being made. Some of these statutes of limitations can be found in Utah Code. Section 76-1-302 states:

• “any infraction shall be commenced within one year after it is committed”;
• “a misdemeanor other than negligent homicide shall be commenced within two years after it is committed;”
• A felony or negligent homicide shall be commenced within four years after it is committed, except that prosecution for:
o Forcible sexual abuse [or incest] shall be commenced within eight years after the offense is committed, if within four years after its commission the offense is reported to a law enforcement agency”.

No time limits for some charges

There are some offenses where “. . . prosecution . . . may be commenced at any time” according to Utah Code 76-1-301. These offenses include:

(a) “Capital felony;
(b) Aggravated murder;
(c) Murder;
(d) Manslaughter;
(e) Child abuse homicide;
(f) Aggravated kidnapping;
(g) Child kidnapping;
(h) Rape;
(i) Rape of a child;
(j) Object rape;
(k) Object rape of a child;
(l) Forcible sodomy;
(m) Forcible sodomy on a child;
(n) Sexual abuse of a child;
(o) Aggravated sexual abuse of a child;
(p) Aggravated sexual assault
(q) Any predicate offense to a murder or aggravating offense to an aggravated murder;
(r) Aggravated human trafficking or aggravated human smuggling . . . ;
(s) Aggravated exploitation of prostitution involving a child.

Section 76-1-302 adds that prosecution on some of the major offenses “. . . may be commenced at any time if the identity of the person who committed the crime is unknown but DNA evidence is collected that would identify the person at a later date. [This] does not apply if the statute of limitations on a crime has run as of May 5, 2003, and no charges have been filed.”

Legal counsel prior to charges

While the above statute of limitations can give a person an idea of how long a case will remain open, there are other factors that can change the time limit given on a case. Some statute of limitations don’t begin when the offense was committed. Others may have the timer paused along the way. When legal trouble is imminent or on the distant horizon, it is always wise to have a reputable legal defense in your corner. An experienced criminal defense attorney can aid a client in knowing exactly what charges could be faced, the statute of limitations for those charges, and when the statute of limitations clock starts and finishes for each specific case. For all criminal matters, contact a defense attorney today.

Utah Man Arrested for Suspicion of Human Trafficking in Wyoming

A Utah man was arrested in Wyoming for suspicion of human trafficking undercover police responded to a prostitution ad found online.

“Hello, this is John”

Photo by: The Falcondale

Undercover detectives in Cheyenne, Wyoming discovered an ad for prostitution on a website and arranged a meeting as a fake “John”. When officers arrived, two women on scene explained to officers they had been taken from Utah by a 35 year old man named Terry Blanks who was collecting their earnings from prostitution. Blanks was located nearby and arrested on two degrees of first degree human trafficking.

Human trafficking

According to Utah Code 76-5-309 and 76-5-310, Utah dishes out a second degree felony for human trafficking unless there is rape, aggravated sexual assault, or sexual crimes against children. Only then would the charge would be increased to a first degree felony. Although Wyoming was the last state to criminalize human trafficking, it now carries stiffer penalties than the neighboring state of Utah. Wyoming Statute 6-2-703 states “A person is guilty of human trafficking in the first degree when the person intentionally or knowingly recruits, transports, transfers, harbors, receives, provides, obtains, isolates, maintains or entices an individual for the purpose of:

(i) Forced labor or servitude . . .

(ii) Sexual servitude . . .

(iii) Sexual servitude of a minor”.

The charge for human trafficking is only reduced to a second degree felony in Wyoming if the person responsible behaves recklessly, not intentionally. For more information on charges that occur across state lines and how penalties and accompanying incarceration times vary depending on the state, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.