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!

“Double Jeopardy” is Constitutional in a Dual Sovereignty Case

A trio of southern Utah residents are being charged twice for the same crime, otherwise known as double jeopardy, but since the charges stem from a dual sovereignty case it is considered constitutional.

Custody battle ends in murder

Photo by: Joe Gratz

Photo by: Joe Gratz

After years of custody battles between 30 year old David Heisler and 32 year old Kelley Marie Perry, Heisler was awarded sole custody of their 6 year old daughter Mariah. Less than two weeks later, prosecutors state Perry drove to Heisler’s residence with her friends 56 year old Francis (Frank) Lee McCard and 54 year old Tammy Renee Freeman. When Heisler answered the door, Perry and McCard physically assaulted him, dragged him from his house, then the trio drove him in his own vehicle to the Arizona desert where his lifeless body was discovered eight weeks later.

Utah, Arizona, and the Federal Government

Perry, McCard, and Freeman have been charged in Utah on felony kidnapping, theft, and burglary charges. Since the crime began in Utah and ended in Arizona, it is considered a dual sovereignty case. So not only do the three face charges in Utah, but the state of Arizona has filed their own charges including a repeated charge of felony kidnapping as well as first degree murder which could carry the death penalty. Not only are Utah and Arizona involved, McCard has been federally indicted and an indictment is pending for Perry as well. This means they may face even more repeated charges but at a federal level to boot.

Dual sovereignty case is not double jeopardy

dual sovereignty

Photo by: Ron Cogswell

While a dual sovereignty case may seem like a way to be repeatedly prosecuted for the same crime (double jeopardy), it does not violate a person’s Fifth Amendment rights to not “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb”. This is due to what is known as dual sovereignty doctrine, meaning that more than one state or court has authority over the case. Although occasionally one state or court will give up their jurisdiction as long as the defendant is facing charges somewhere. This is not always the case though and it is important to know when dual sovereignty may take place. Dual sovereignty due to a multi-jurisdictional case can occur for a few different reasons. Those can include:

• When the crime occurs in more than one state. For example, the David Heisler murder which took place in both Utah and Arizona. This is also a common for crimes such as drug and sex trafficking.

• If there are civil and criminal charges, as they are not handled by different courts.

• When there are both state and federal charges. Both the state and the federal government can press charges in some cases. When this happens, the federal charges do not dissolve the charges from the state. This can result in someone serving time in federal prison followed by state prison or vice versa.

• If the crime occurred in a different state from whence the defendant or victim resides. This is a common occurrence with crimes involving identity theft such as fraud.

• If more than one federal court has filed charges against the defendant.

Defense lawyer(s) needed

When it comes to a dual sovereignty case, a person facing charges needs more help than usual. It is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can work to help eliminate dual sovereignty in a case or who is willing and able to operate across state lines or work side by side with legal representation in other states or federal courts where other or repeated charges may exist. Anyone facing charges that may involve more than one state or court should speak with a defense attorney immediately.

Repeat Sex Offender in Utah

A Provo man who was arrested for multiple sexual charges against a young child turned out to be a repeat sex offender, registered both times in the state of Utah.

Sexual abuse of a child

Photo by: Victor

Photo by: Victor

56 year old Roger Lowell Falkner of Provo Utah was arrested after a young child came forward and told police Falkner had sexually abused her. When confronted with the charges, Falkner verified everything the little girl had told police and was booked into the Utah County Jail on multiple charges.

Repeat sex offender

This incident was not the first time Falkner had been charged with sexual offenses; in fact, Falkner was a convicted repeat sex offender in the state of Utah. According to Family Watchdog, his first conviction was in December of 1992 for second degree felony sexual abuse of a child. Nearly 13 years later in September of 2005, he was convicted of third degree attempted forcible sexual abuse. Now 12 years later he faces a first degree felony for sodomy on a child; three second degree felonies for sexual abuse of a child, dealing harmful material to a minor, and exploitation of a minor; he also faces a third degree felony for lewdness.

Recidivism rate of sex offenders

Repeat Sex Offender

Photo by: Ken Teegardin

Regrettably, there are times when a person convicted of a sex crime is not successfully rehabilitated and becomes a repeat sex offender with new sexual charges against them. Fortunately, a document put forth by the Utah Department of Corrections & Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice in 2010 portrays that repeat offenders, or recidivism, isn’t as common as people think. Although the number of sex offenders under the watch of the Department of Corrections has continued to increase over the years, most of those who are arrested after being released are arrested because of “technical violations of the conditions of parole, not new criminal behavior”.

Sex offender treatment programs

The Utah Department of Corrections notes that strict probation as well as the state of Utah’s sex offender program is to thank for the lower rate of repeat offenders. They shared the results of a study conducted over the course of up to 26 years of “388 offenders of a felony sex offense who were treated in the Bonneville Community Corrections Center program between 1979 and 1994, [including] both successful program completers and failures” and indicated that “83% of the offenders had no new criminal convictions during the entire follow-up period. “ The UDC document then went on to proclaim that “successful completers of treatment were significantly less likely to have any form of recidivism that those who failed- successful treatment completers had a 26% lower recidivism rate than non-completers. If the treatment programs are so successful, why would someone such as Roger Falkner continue on to be repeat sex offender?

Program funding

Photo by: Kevin Cortopassi

Photo by: Kevin Cortopassi

Sadly, for a program that has been proven to work to rehabilitate sex offenders, it has not received the funding needed to keep up with the demand. Regardless of inflation, the sex offender treatment program in Utah hasn’t seen an increase in funding for over twenty years. Instead, they have lost one of their major facilities to house inmates who are incarcerated for sexual offenses and awaiting the program. Now, those convicted of a sexual offense are dispersed among the prison population while they sit on waiting list pending treatment. Hopefully they will be able to receive the help they need before their time is served and they are back in the community. Although there has been no news of increased funding for the sex offender treatment programs, there are changes being made to fix the program so it is more effective for those inmates who are participating. Perhaps these changes will help reduce another person like Falkner from becoming a repeat sex offender and ruining a victim’s life as well as their own. For more information on charges for sexual offenses or for defense and treatment options for a repeat sex offender, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Murder and Desecration of a Dead Human Body

A Utah man was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of murder and also for desecration of a dead human body.

Beaten to death

Desecration of a Dead Human Body

Photo by: r. nial bradshaw

34 year old Kammy Edmunds, mother of two, was found battered and deceased in the bathroom of her Mt. Pleasant home Saturday morning and her fiancée has been arrested in connection with her death. Initially, 35 year old Anthony Jeffery Christensen told police Edmunds had supposedly died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash but after further investigation, police determined she had been beaten to death. Christensen was booked as the sole suspect in the case.

“The car accident”

The fabricated story of the vehicle crash allegedly came about from Christensen attempting to blame Edmunds fatal injuries on a car crash that happened sometime in the late evening or early morning hours after he passed out drunk. In support of his story, Christensen’s late fiancée’s vehicle was found at the bottom of an embankment with her blood on the interior of the vehicle. Although the tale could have made sense to an untrained eye, investigators as well as a medical examiner concluded that the drive off the embankment would not have killed Edmunds. Additionally, her injuries consisted of multiple blows to the head which was not consistent with a car crash. Lastly, there was evidence that Edmunds body had been moved through the house post-mortem; all signs pointing to her fiancée as a her murderer.

Desecration of a dead human body

Photo by: dave Nakayama

Photo by: Dave Nakayama

Christensen’s efforts to cover up the real story of what happened to Kammy Edmunds didn’t pan out, and he was booked into Sanpete County jail on murder charges. Had he not gone through the trouble of producing a vehicle crash story and rearranging the murder scene, his charges would have stopped there. Since he dragged the body through the house and attempted to make it look like an accident, he is also facing charges for obstruction of justice and desecration of a dead human body. Utah Code 76-9-704 states “A person is guilty of abuse or desecration of a dead human body if the person intentionally and unlawfully:

(a) fails to report the finding of a dead human body to a local law enforcement agency;

(b) disturbs, moves, removes, conceals, or destroys a dead human body or any part of it;

(c) disinters a buried or otherwise interred dead human body, without authority of a court order;

(d) dismembers a dead human body to any extent, or damages or detaches any part or portion of a dead human body; ( . . . )

Failure to report finding a body is a class B misdemeanor, while all other types of desecration of a dead human body are punishable as a third degree felony.

Covering his tracks

Desecration of a dead human body can be seen as either a complete lack of respect for the dead or in this case, perhaps a panicked attempt to hide a grievous mistake. Christensen does not have a history that paints him out as one who would enjoy maliciously desecrating a body. He does have a history of acting out in anger though. According to legal information from two other states, Christensen had a history of domestic violence and had obviously not received enough help in controlling his angry outbursts of violence, even after multiple charges of domestic battery over several years.

Get help now

Photo by: Saurabh Vyas

Photo by: Saurabh Vyas

Utah has many programs and classes available to help those who struggle with anger and violence; In fact, these programs are often court ordered when charges of domestic violence are present. It is unclear whether or not Christensen had attended any classes or programs in his past, whether voluntarily or not. Now hopefully he can get the help he needs to control his anger by attending different behavioral classes during his time in prison. His life and the life of Kammy Edmunds and her family are forever changed and classes at this point will do little to help except to give Christensen understanding in his actions. For those who are facing charges of domestic violence, contact a criminal defense attorney and be sure to inquire about anger management classes. Anyone looking for help in controlling anger before it amounts to criminal charges such as murder or desecration of a dead human body, contact your local health department.