Distribution of Personal Images, Also known as Revenge Porn, is Now Illegal in Utah

A bill was approved by the Utah state legislature that would make changes to the Sexual Exploitation Act of the Utah Criminal Code; those changes would add a part under the heading of “Distribution of Personal Images,” but is more easily identified as making revenge porn a third degree felony.

What is Revenge Porn?

A person may be guilty of committing revenge porn if he or she knowingly or intentionally distributes to a third party any intimate image of someone who is 18 years old or older under the following circumstances:

* they know that the person in the image hasn’t given their permission to distribute the image

* the image was created or provided during a situation where there was an expectation of privacy

If House Bill 71 passes and makes revenge porn a crime, it could end up being a third degree felony. This level of crime carries the potential penalty of up to five years in jail or prison.

Utah isn’t the only state to try and outlaw revenge porn. Other states like Illinois, Pennsylvania and Arizona have also jumped on the revenge porn bandwagon. Revenge porn frequently refers to sexually explicit pictures or images that an ex-lover might have and distribute to others.

Should it be a Crime?

There is the concern among some people that making revenge porn a crime could be considered in opposition to the First Amendment. The ACLU has stated that the type of material in question shouldn’t be against the law if it’s not child pornography or stalking.

Whether or not you believe the idea that revenge porn is a crime is certainly a personal decision. However, if you have questions about any crime, regardless of the type of crime, don’t hesitate to contact a top Utah criminal defense attorney. You needn’t wait until you’re sitting in prison to get the legal help you deserve.

Utah Legislature Shortens Driver License Suspension for DUI and Some Alcohol Related Offenses

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  DUI in Utah, Utah Law
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Photo: Richard Masoner

Photo: Richard Masoner

Utah House Bill 15 (HB 15) concerning driver license suspension amendments made its way through the state legislature and has been signed by the governor.

Driver License Suspension Shortens in HB 15

The passing of this bill effectively shortened the suspension period for certain drivers who have their driver license suspended due to certain alcohol-related offenses. The new part of the law shortens a person’s two-year or one-year license suspension to a six-month suspension if:

* the driver was under the age of 19 at the time of his arrest

* the offense was a first offense that was committed prior to May 14, 2013 and

* the suspension was based on the same occurrence upon which certain written verifications are based

The “certain written verifications” may include:

* a court order shortening the driver license suspension

* dismissal of the violation

* notice by a prosecutor that he is choosing to not prosecute the person

* reduction of a charge

* other written documentation deemed acceptable to the Driver License Division

Some Rule Changes May Come from the Driver License Division

The change in the law also states that the Utah Driver License Division may make rules establishing requirements for acceptable written documentation. We don’t know what, if any, rules the Driver License Division may come up with, but could include things such as a written exam, for example.

Additionally, if a person’s driver license suspension is shortened, he will still be required to pay the license reinstatement fees to get his license back.

It’s nice to see the Legislature making some law changes that will hopefully benefit the average citizen who may inadvertently get into a bit of alcohol-driving trouble.

If you have any questions about this law and how it affects you, don’t hesitate to contact a top Utah criminal defense attorney today.

Aggravated Animal Cruelty Charges Pending Against Price, Utah Couple

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Utah Crime News
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Photo: Peretz Partensky

Photo: Peretz Partensky

A Price couple has been charged with aggravated animal cruelty for their alleged behavior towards a dog in their care.

Couple Took Animal to Vet

The couple actually took the dog to a local vet for care, but the state is saying that they should have sought medical treatment for the animal much sooner. The man and woman have admitted that the dog was accidentally injured on a couple of different occasions, but law enforcement has their own take on the situation.

The two people are facing third degree felonies stemming from the animal cruelty charges. If found guilty, they could spend up to five years in jail or prison.

Aggravated Animal Cruelty is a Third Degree Felony

It’s a third degree felony to intentionally or knowingly torture a companion animal; both domestic dogs and cats are legally considered companion animals. Animal cruelty can consist of abandoning an animal or not feeding or otherwise taking necessary care of the animal.

Police are also looking into the woman’s admission that she was responsible for the death of a different dog last year. They, of course, believe she did it purposefully; it will be up to the prosecution to prove that charge.

Most people would probably agree that animal cruelty is wrong and unnecessary. However, accidents happen–even to animals, and people may not always realize that immediate medical care is required. Mistakes can be made that don’t necessarily call for jail time.

Legal Help is Available for You

Hopefully both defendants in this situation will make good use of their time by consulting with an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Don’t let anyone tell you that your case is hopeless and to take whatever the prosecution offers. Get the advice of a top Utah criminal defense attorney today.

Prosecutors File Additional Charges in Alleged Human Trafficking Ring based in Utah

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Utah Legal Definition
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A man is now facing over 30 felonies relating to his suspected involvement in a human trafficking ring based in Utah.

Alleged Exploitation Said to Involve Mostly Undocumented Latino Boys

The alleged human trafficking is said to have involved Latinos, mainly young men who were undocumented aliens. Law enforcement believes that the “ringleader” of the human trafficking used fear and threats to force the young men to do his bidding.

Legal Definition of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is, not surprisingly, illegal in Utah. You may be considered guilty of trafficking humans for forced labor or sexual exploitation if you use force, fraud or coercion by

* threatening serious harm or physical restraint against the person or another party

* taking away or otherwise making unavailable that individual’s passport, immigration documents or other government id

* abusing or threatening abuse of the law or legal process against the person or another party

* using a person’s debt as a means to gain what you want from them

* using servitude as a means to get what you want by threatening that person or another part with serious harm, physical restraint, etc.

Human trafficking includes using people for forced labor in industrial facilities, sweatshops, households, agricultural initiatives, etc.

Human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation can includes anything from forced prostitution to forced performances in pornography and everything else in between.

Human trafficking is usually charged as a second degree felony. Each charge against a person is considered a separate crime, so an individual charged with multiple felonies potentially could serve several prison sentences if found guilty.

The Right Attorney Can Help You

Talk to a Utah criminal defense attorney today if you’ve been charged with any crime. You need to protect yourself by getting the best, most experienced criminal defense attorney you can find.

Potential Death Penalty Case for Triple Homicide Suspect in Salt Lake County

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Legal Process
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Photo: Joe Flintham

Photo: Joe Flintham

The Salt Lake County District Attorney has stated that if a Utah man accused of committing a triple homicide is found guilty, the D.A. will ask that the death penalty be the man’s consequence.

The Backstory

The 25-year-old man is accused of shooting four people in a private residence in Midvale. Of the four people shot, only one survived. Another man has already pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the same case; that person is supposed to testify against the man accused of the homicides whenever his trial should finally happen.

The death penalty has not been frequently sought after by district and county attorneys in Utah, but when it does come about it always presents a unique set of challenges for all parties involved–especially the defendant.

What Can Happen to Someone Convicted of a Capital Felony

In Utah, a person who pleads guilty to or his convicted of a capital felony will be sentenced according to specific statute which includes:

* death

* an indeterminate prison sentence of a minimum of 25 years and which can be life or

* on or after April 27, 1992 life in prison without the possibility of parole

If a defendant is convicted of and sentenced to death, that conviction will automatically be reviewed by the Utah State Supreme Court within 60 days (which may be occasionally extended an additional 30 days.

Get the Attorney You Deserve

As we’ve mentioned before on this blog, it’s vital that any defendant–regardless of the crime he or she is charged with–get the best legal defense as soon as possible. Having an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney on your team from the beginning can make a huge difference in how your case turns out.

Do yourself a favor and talk to a top Utah criminal defense attorney today.

Utah House Bill 20, Amending the Liability of Police Officers in Vehicle Pursuits

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Dealing with Police
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Photo: Lee Cannon

Photo: Lee Cannon

Utah House Bill 20 (HB 20), which amends the liabilities of police officers during vehicle-related pursuits, recently squeaked its way through the House by about as narrow a margin as possible.

What is HB 20 All About?

HB 20 is specifically titled Emergency Vehicle Operator Duty of Care, but it’s safe to say that it details what police officers can and cannot be held liable for in the event of an auto chase involving a criminal suspect.

This bill essentially provides that a police officer in a marked police vehicle owes no duty of care to a suspect in the commission of a crime who is evading, fleeing or otherwise attempting to elude the police officer.

HB 20 also states that officers have no duty of care to a person who is in a vehicle with a suspect unless it’s proven (by a preponderance of evidence) that the individual was not in the vehicle of his own free will and choice.

Police Officers Still Have Some Rules

Police officers are still required to follow certain rules, as outlined in the bill, when pursuing a suspect. Some of those requirements include:

* using visual signals

* using auditory signals (turning on the siren)

* slowing down when necessary at intersections, red lights, stop signs, etc.

Precise language in HB 20 state that the “privileges granted under this section do not relieve the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle of the duty to act as a reasonably prudent emergency vehicle operator [in like] under the circumstances.”

That paragraph, should the bill be signed into law, will likely be the cause of debate. What one prosecutor or judge thinks is reasonably prudent may not be the same with another of their contemporaries.

Watch Out for You

When all is said and done, you need to protect yourself in the event you are charged with any crime. The best way to achieve that goal is to hire a top notch Utah criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. The prosecution will have their own battalion of attorneys working against you; the least you can do is have an experienced, winning defense attorney working for you.

Tawdry Tale of Sex, Robbery, Murder and Why You Want the Right Criminal Defense Attorney From the Beginning

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Hiring a Lawyer
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Photo: Daniel Oines

Photo: Daniel Oines

Before we get into today’s (true) tale, keep in mind that all criminal defense attorneys are not created equal and hiring an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney right from the get-go can make all the difference in your criminal case.

Offer to Pay for Sex Leads to Murder

The story began when two male cousins approached a strip club dancer in Oklahoma and offered to pay her for sex. The order from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals states that the dancer “seemed to agree” and it was decided they’d meet at the woman’s apartment.

Somewhere in between the job offering and the men arriving at the dancer’s apartment, the woman talked to her boyfriend and a plot was arranged to rob the two cousins. When the cousins arrived at the apartment, the boyfriend and his friend came out from the shadows and demanded the cousins’ money. The cousins took off and the boyfriend allegedly shot them both in the back, and then moments later shot one of the cousins again–he died at the scene.

A neighbor was able to aid in the identification of the shooter, and the strip club dancer also spilled all she knew–additionally identifying her boyfriend as the shooter.

Certain Aspects of Criminal Cases Must Be Appealed at the Right Time

The shooter was eventually convicted of first degree murder along with other charges. His legal problems (aside from being found guilty of murder) arose from the fact that he didn’t appeal certain aspects from his case when the first opportunity came along.

When the defendant’s case finally got to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals (Utah is in the Tenth Circuit Jurisdiction), they declined to hear any appeals that had not been brought up when it was legally timely.

So, aside from the somewhat titillating aspects of this case, we want to remind you that it’s vital to have the best, most experienced criminal defense attorney possible when you first get into legal trouble. You need a lawyer who knows how to go through the initial district court process, but also who will know when and how to deal with the appellate courts.

Help yourself by contacting a reputable Utah criminal defense attorney today.

Utah Woman Pleads Guilty for Involvement in Robbery Case That Left Other Alleged Robber Dead

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Crimes
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Photo: Mark Coggins

Photo: Mark Coggins

A Utah woman has pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated murder and aggravated robbery in exchange for prosecutors dropping several other serious charges that had been pending against her in court.

The Backstory

The story is that two women engaged in a bit of a robbery spree, robbing places such as a restaurant and a grocery store, as well as committing an unnamed number of other armed robberies.

The situation came to a head one evening when there was a shootout between at least one alleged robber and a police officer. No one was injured at that point, but a few days later the alleged mastermind of the robberies was shot to death in another police shootout.

The remaining woman was arrested a few hours later and has since been sitting in prison. Now that she has pleaded guilty to two first degree felonies, she will be sentenced in a few weeks in a Utah Third District courtroom.

Attempted Crimes are Inchoate Offenses–But Still Crimes

An attempt to commit a crime is called an inchoate offense, which is defined as an incomplete attempt at committing a crime. In Utah, an attempt to commit any crime is a crime in and of itself, even if the crime didn’t go through as planned.

A criminal attempt to commit aggravated murder which results in serious bodily injury is punishable by at least 15 years in prison and possibly life in prison. However, if the court determines that a lesser punishment will serve justice better, that judge has some flexibility in sentencing.

Defendant’s Prison Sentence a Mystery at this Point

Since no one can know at this point what the judge will decide, we can only hope that he will take into account this woman’s level of culpability, which does seem to be less than that of her deceased partner.

Don’t take any chances with your freedom or life if you are charged with any crime. Talk to a Utah criminal defense attorney as soon as possible and get your case–and your life–back on the right track.

Illegal Drug Dealers Still Enjoying the Repeal of the Requirement to Pay Sales Tax on Their Products

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Drugs in Utah, Humor
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Photo: StockMonkeys.com

Photo: StockMonkeys.com

Utah Senate Bill 243, which repealed the Illegal Drug Sales Tax Stamp Act almost two years, may still be heralded as one of the more important legislative measures ever to come before the governor.

Getting Rid of Pesky Laws

If you are asking yourself, “what was the Illegal Drug Sales Tax Stamp Act?” don’t despair–we’re here to keep you up-to-date on the vital matters that affect our fair state.

This act was designed to have dealers of illegal drugs purchase a tax stamp from the Utah State Tax Commission so that appropriate sales tax could be collected by the state of Utah. The amount of tax to be collected for the illegal drugs depended on the amount and type of drug.

$3.50 per gram of marijuana

$200 per gram of “controlled substance” like cocaine or heroin

$2000 per dosage unit of a controlled substance that wasn’t sold by weight

Believe it or not, 60% of the money collected for illegal drug taxes was earmarked for law enforcement agencies’ efforts to enforce controlled substance laws.

Illegal Drug Sales Tax Law Not Meant to Get Folks in Trouble

Lest you think that this Act was created in order to catch illegal drug dealers, don’t worry. No identifying information was to be collected from the dealer when purchasing the tax stamp(s), and any person who took it upon himself to disclose any information obtained from a illegal drug sales tax stamp customer could find himself slapped with a class A misdemeanor for his efforts.

Not Likely Much Mourning with the Deletion of This Law

It’s not too hard to see why this particular law was repealed. There honestly couldn’t have been a whole lot of sales tax revenue being generated by law-abiding drug dealers paying sales tax on their product.

Since it’s not April 1, you can be assured that this particular blog post is not a joke. Sometimes, however, there are some entertaining laws (or repealing of that type of law) just too good to pass up on poking a little fun at.

Let an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney be your guide if you’ve been caught in the middle of any legal trouble. Make that important phone call today.

Utah Arson Suspected Ordered to Remain Behind Bars

Utah Criminal Defense Blog, on the topic of  Utah Crime News
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Photo: torbakhopper

Photo: torbakhopper

A Utah man who was working at the site of an apartment complex as an electrician will not-at this point-be eligible for release from prison, due to his alleged mental state and possible drug addiction.

The Back Story

The man is accused of setting fire to the under-construction apartment complex. The estimated damages are in the neighborhood of $6 million. The man in question has a history of depression and drug use; more specifically it’s suspected he was under the influence of spice at the time he’s alleged to have committed the arson.

When Another Prosecutor Takes Over

This particular arson case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s office instead of the state of Utah. In some situations, criminal cases may be taken over by the U.S. Attorney if they believe they may be able to get a conviction that will carry stiffer penalties than the local prosecutors.

Some Arson Basics

Arson can be charged if a person unlawfully and illegally damages a building, structure, etc. It’s considered a second degree felony if the damages equal or exceed $5000. Aggravated arson is a first degree felony. This crime carries stronger consequences because if it’s charged, it is because the arson was committed on/in a habitable structure or a structure/vehicle when a person (who isn’t part of the crime) is inside.

Second degree felonies can carry a prison sentence of 1-15 years, while first degree felony convictions may send a person to prison for 5 years to life–depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime.

Get the Best Utah Criminal Defense Attorney You Can

Don’t wait to consult with a Utah criminal defense attorney if you are facing any criminal charges. It’s in your best interest to get a top attorney on your side when you’ve been accused of any wrongdoing. Make that phone call today.