Domestic Dispute in Springville Ends with Accidental Discharging of a Firearm within City Limits

A domestic dispute between two couples and a relative ended with an accidental discharging of a firearm within city limits.

Domestic disturbance

Photo by: Marco Verch

Police officers were dispatched to a call that someone had discharged a firearm within city limits and discovered a car speeding away from the scene. After pulling over the vehicle, officers discovered a car overloaded with people, two of which were injured. One was suffering from a head injury while another had a gunshot wound to the foot. Returning to the area in which the firearm had been discharged, officers were able to determine the individual’s head injury and the other person’s bullet hole in his foot to have been the result of a domestic dispute that had become violent. The shooting was accidental, yet the man with the weapon will likely face charges for assault for pistol-whipping the individual with a head injury, brandishing a weapon in a threatening manner, and discharging a firearm within city limits.

State laws

Utah is thought to be a more gun friendly state, yet there are strict laws and ordinances in place regarding where guns are allowed and where they can be discharged. Utah law 76-10-508 warns: “A person may not discharge any kind of dangerous weapon or firearm:

(i) From an automobile or other vehicle;
(ii) From, upon, or across any highway;
(iii) At any road signs placed upon any highways of the state;
(iv) At any communications equipment of property of public utilities . . . ;
(v) At railroad equipment or facilities including any sign or signal;
(vi) Within Utah State Park[s] . . .;
(vii) Without written permission to discharge the dangerous weapon from the owner or person in charge of the property within 600 feet of . . . a house . . . or any structure in which a domestic animal is kept or fed”.

Discharging a firearm within city limits

Photo by: Micki Krimmel

Beyond the above listed areas, Utah law does not specify where in a city firearms are lawful to be discharged. Utah Code 53-5a-102 states “All authority to regulate firearms is reserved to the state except where the Legislature specifically delegates responsibility to local authorities or state entities.” Many counties or cities have their own ordinances pertaining to discharging a firearm within city limits. The city of Springville where the domestic dispute resulting in accidental discharging of a firearm was reported states in statute 8-3-102 that “except as permitted by subsection (2) [regarding hunting in rural areas during designated seasons], it shall be unlawful for any person within the limits of the City to discharge any rifle, gun, pistol, air gun, bean shooter, flipper, sling shot, or any other instrument which expels a projectile, except in self-defense, or, in the case of target shooting, upon issuance of a permit by the Police Department. “

Self-defense or Castle Doctrine

There are some occurrences when discharging a firearm within city limits would not result in criminal charges. Some such instances include self-defense cases when a person is found to be justified in using a weapon to protect themselves. Additionally, while state and many city laws prohibit firearm use near a residence, Utah homeowners are allowed to defend their home from dangerous intruders. This freedom to protect a home and its residents is known as Castle Doctrine.

Check with your local area

Besides in instances of self-defense or Castle Doctrine, all Utah residents should be aware that brandishing a weapon during an altercation or discharging a firearm in city limits will likely be frowned upon by law enforcement. Others who may want to engage in innocent target shooting or “air-soft wars” may want to check with their local area ordinances prior to engaging in any such activity that could result in criminal charges.

Kaysville Utah Man Facing Federal Charges for Possession of Child Pornography

Federal charges have been filed for a Kaysville, Utah man found to be in possession of a vast amount of child pornography.

Darknet downloads

Photo by: Japanexperterna.se

38 year old Daniel Walter Warner was arrested On October 25th after authorities tracked several child pornography files to a computer at Warner’s Kaysville, Utah home. Law enforcement served a warrant on Warner’s home and electronics and discovered 100 gigabytes of pornography depicting pornography involving children and infants. Warner, who is the father of four children and has volunteered in Utah’s foster care program, is facing federal charges of possession and distribution of child pornography.

Federal description of child pornography

The Unites States Department of Justice states: “Images of child pornography are not protected under the First Amendment rights, and are illegal contraband under federal law. Section 2256 of Title 18, Unites States Code, defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age). “That section goes on to explain that “[n]otably, the legal definition of sexually explicit conduct does not require that an image depict a child engaging in sexual activity. A picture of a naked child may constitute illegal child pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive.”

Internet = Federal

While each state has their own laws and punishments regarding child pornography, sometimes a person possessing child pornography will face federal charges. According to The Department of Justice,“{besides images that cross or are sent across state or international borders]. . . federal jurisdiction almost always applies when the Internet is used to commit a child pornography violation. Even if the child pornography image itself did not travel across state or international borders, federal law may be implicated if the materials, such as the computer [laptop, tablet, or phone] used to download the image . . . [or]store the image, originated or previously traveled in interstate or foreign commerce.”

Federal charges

With the technological advances of smart phones and tablets having the browsing and downloading capabilities of computers, it is likely many child pornography cases of could end up in federal court. For more information on state or federal charges, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Refusing a “Get out of Jail Free” Card – When Pardon’s Aren’t Accepted

Anyone who has ever been arrested probably wishes, like the game of Monopoly, that there was such thing as a “get out of Jail free” card to magically grant them another chance at a crime free life. While that idea seems too good to be true, such a thing does exist as clemency in the form of a pardon.

Clemency

Photo by: The White House

Clemency is defined as: mercy or lenience, and when used in legal terms it can be defined as having mercy or leniency regarding criminal punishments or the severity of them. According to clemency statistics from the United States Department of Justice, there are four different petitions that can be granted: Respites, remissions, commutation, or pardons.

• Respite. A respite is not a forgiveness of a crime; it is merely an issuance of extra time until the carrying out of their sentence. One of the instances of when this type of clemency would arise is when someone is on death row and is hoping to get life in prison instead. They would file a petition for a respite to hold off the day of their execution until they’ve had more time for their appeal for another type of clemency such as a remission or pardon to be granted.

• Remission. Remissions are used to remove or relieve a person from a legal obligation they may have such as a fine or restitution.

• Commutation. A commutation reduces the punishment for a crime. Someone who may have been convicted of a crime and given a sentence may petition for commutation either to have their sentence reduced or removed all together. If a sentence is completely removed, the person convicted will not serve the time behind bars but may still lose certain liberties such as owning a firearm or serving on a jury.

• One well known type of clemency is known as a pardon. A pardon is complete forgiveness of a crime. When a person receives a pardon for their crime, said crime is entirely erased from their criminal history. They are not required to serve time behind bars, pay a fine, or ever face any repercussions related to that crime including lost civil liberties. For the person pardoned, it is as though the crime never took place. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution defines pardons as “. . . an act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual, on whom it is bestowed, from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime has committed.” There are two different types of pardons.

o A full pardon which is complete legal and civil restoration to the convicted no strings attached; or

o A conditional pardon, which is a full pardon if the person agrees to something else in return. Failure to hold up there part of the deal would result in the pardon becoming void.

Power of a clean slate

Pardons are one of the more well-known types of clemency because it is a complete forgiveness of a crime, without the person serving any time or monetary restitution. A pardon could save a person from spending a lifetime behind bars – even to escape the death penalty. If the crime for which a pardon is requested is committed on a state level, only the governor of that state has the power to issue a pardon. If the crime is federal, the pardon must come from the very top – The President of the United States. According to the clemency statistics from the United States Department of Justice, our current president has granted seven of the 762 petitions for pardons he has received during his time in office. The previous president granted only 212 of the 3,395 petitions received during his eight years as commander in chief. Pardons, especially on a federal level are not granted easily, which makes it hard to understand why with the extraordinary opportunity for a second chance that the offer of a pardon would ever be refused.

Refusing a pardon

In 1830, two men, James Porter and George Wilson were found guilty of robbing and threatening the life of a U.S. postal carrier. They were both sentenced to death by hanging. James Porter was executed as planned. George Wilson however had friends in high places who begged the current president Andrew Jackson for clemency. President Jackson agreed, giving Wilson a full pardon for the crimes of which he was on death row for. Wilson would still have to serve prison time for other crimes, but he would not be executed and still have many years after prison to carry on with his life. Surprisingly however, Wilson refused the pardon.

Void if not accepted

You can’t force someone to consent to help; the same can be said for pardons. A pardon can be offered but it is void if the person to whom it is given won’t receive it. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states “ . . . A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.” While some individuals refuse pardons to protect themselves against self-incrimination, others may stubbornly refuse any government handout. Regardless of their reasons, pardons are only good if they are accepted. For more information on clemency regarding a specific case, contact an experienced attorney.