Strange Utah Laws

Many of the so-called strange Utah laws touted about online turned out to be either outdated or non-existent, however the following were found to be valid laws.

Whale hunting

strange utah laws

Photo by: Issac Kohane

It is illegal to hunt whales in Utah. This is one of the strange Utah laws that is true in a sense, but only on a national level. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) text of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) section 102 (2)(f) “It is unlawful for any person or vessel or other conveyance to take any species of whale incident to commercial whaling in waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States”. Luckily no body of water in Utah contains any species of whale so breaking this law isn’t likely to happen.

Selling alcohol in an emergency

It is illegal to sell alcohol in an emergency. If a state of emergency is ever declared in Utah, you may want to think twice about running to the store for your favorite brand of alcohol. Legally, alcohol venders may not be able to sell you any but it all depends on whether or not the governor says it’s okay. Utah Code 32B-4-407 states “During a period of emergency proclaimed by the governor to exist in an area of the state, it is unlawful for a person to sell, offer for sale, or furnish an alcoholic product in that area if the director publicly announces and directs that in that area a person may not sell, offer for sale, or furnish an alcoholic product in that area during the period of emergency.”

Marrying family members

Photo by: Evan Forester

Photo by: Evan Forester

It is illegal to marry a close family member or have sexual relations with them. As disturbing as this is, the state of Utah felt the need to cover topics related to marriage or incest multiple times throughout the Utah Code. Section 30-1-1 states “The following marriages are incestuous and void from the beginning, whether the relationship is legitimate or illegitimate:
(a) marriages between parents and children;
(b) marriages between ancestors and descendants of every degree;
(c) marriages between brothers and sisters of the half as well as the whole blood;
(d) marriages between uncles and nieces or aunts and nephews;
(e) marriages between first cousins, [unless] both parties are 65 years of age or older; or if both parties are 55 years of age or older [and] either party is unable to reproduce.”
While Utah Code 30-1-1 fails to mention criminal charges for incestuous marriages, section 76-7-102 adds that incest (regardless of marriage) is in fact a third degree felony.

Large containers of beer prohibited

Another weird law pertaining to alcohol: only retailers are allowed to possess containers of beer larger than two liters. Long -time residents of Utah may be familiar with this law, but those new to the area may wonder why police always break up parties where kegs of beer are located. Utah Code 32B-4-406 (1) (b) states “a person may not purchase or possess beer in a container that exceeds two liters.” The only exception for buying or possessing large containers of beer is when it is between licensed alcohol retailers.

Ultimate fighting

Photo by: Eric Molina

Photo by: Eric Molina

No biting during ultimate fighting matches. Surprisingly, Utah actually allows ultimate fighting matches to begin with but no, biting is not allowed. Neither is “direct, intentional, and forceful strikes to the eyes, groin area, adam’s apple area of the neck, and temple area of the head” according to Utah Code 76-9-705. Additionally “using anything that is not part of the human body, except for boxing gloves, to intentionally inflict serious bodily injury upon an opponent through direct contact or the expulsion of a projectile” and “striking a person who demonstrates an inability to protect himself from the advances of an opponent” are prohibited.

Consult attorney about strange Utah laws

If you are ever unsure about strange Utah laws it is best to consult with an attorney to ensure there any action you take will not have a threat of criminal charges. If you have already been charged with a crime, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Obtain Consent before Leaving Animal Remains on Someone Else’s Land

As many Utahn’s head to the hills during the next couple weeks for to enjoy hunting season it is important for them to obtain consent if planning on leaving any animal remains on someone else’s land.

Fall break A.K.A. hunting season

Photo by: M&R Glasgow

Photo by: M&R Glasgow

Fall break or fall recess commences this week in Washington County, Utah with other counties throughout the state following suit in the next couple of weeks. Some Utah residents choose this time of cooler temperatures to enjoy the outdoors hiking and while others save this vacation strictly for hunting season. For many Utah families, hunting during fall break is a long-held tradition.

Hunting on private land

There is an abundance of public area such as designated BLM land that is open for licensed hunters during the season, yet some would rather go on less popular, privately owned property. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has worked out paid agreements with some landowners to allow the public to hunt on their land. According to DWR, “Walk-In-Access (WIA) area is a tract of private land on which the Division of Wildlife Resources has leased hunting, trapping or fishing privileges for public recreation.”

Hunting etiquette- clean up animal remains

Disposing of Animal Remains on Private Land

Photo by: Peter O’Connor aka anemoneprojectors

When hunting on private property, it is important to exhibit proper hunting etiquette by staying in designated areas, not using motor vehicles is prohibited, and cleaning up all animal remains after processing. It is possible to obtain consent before leaving animal remains on site however. Some landowners will agree to let the animal remains stay in the field where scavengers such as vultures will finish off the remains. Others will agree to let the animal remains stay on site as long as they are buried properly.

Criminal charges

Failure to obtain consent from the landowner before leaving animal remains on their property is a violation of Utah Code 4-3-103 and can result in an infraction. For more information and laws regarding hunting in Utah, contact the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. For legal assistance regarding criminal charges contact a defense attorney.

Unlawful Use of a Notary Seal

It may seem nothing more than a stamp and a signature, but those responsible for notarizing documents must follow strict rules for using their notary seal as unlawful or improper use is punishable by law.

Notary public

Photo by: edkohler

Photo by: edkohler

A notary or notary public is a person who is licensed and commissioned to sign and seal official papers which are used in legal proceedings. A notary is used as an impartial witness who will ensure proper identification along with required signatures on legally binding documents before placing their notary seal of approval. Notarized documents are often used in many critical events such as:
• Buying or selling a home,
• Establishing power of attorney,
• Creating a will, and
• Adopting a child.
For these reasons, it is not surprising that there are lengthy laws regarding the use of a notary seal and criminal charges when these laws are broken.

Use of a notary seal

Notary Seal

Photo by: Dan Moyle

Title 46 Chapter 1 Sections 1 through 23 of the Utah Code discusses the Notaries Public Reform Act. Here is where all the laws pertaining to a notary public can be found including: required qualifications, prohibitions of use, liabilities of a notary public, and criminal charges for unlawful or improper use. Some of rules regarding the use of a notary seal include:

• 46-1-9.2 “A notary may not ( . . . ) perform any notarial act with intent to deceive or defraud.”
• 46-1-11(1) “A nonattorney notary may not provide advice or counsel to another person concerning legal documents or legal proceedings, including immigration matters.”
A violation of these and other laws regarding the use of a notary seal are punishable as class B misdemeanors. The same criminal charges apply to those who employ the notary or issue the seal to them who break the following laws:
• 46-1-18(3)(b) “It is a class B misdemeanor ( . . . )for: the employer of a notary to solicit the notary to perform a notarial act in violation of [The Notaries Public Reform Act]”
• 46-1-17 “A vendor may not provide a notarial seal, either inking or embossing, to a person claiming to be a notary, unless the person presents a photocopy of the person’s notarial commission, attached to a notarized declaration ( . . . ) “. A vendor who does so is guilty of a class B misdemeanor
A notary public or those employing a notary or issuing a notary seal who are facing any criminal charges are encouraged to seek legal counsel with a reputable criminal defense attorney.