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!

Damage to or Interruption of a Communication Device in Utah

Some crimes sound fairly minor, but they can wreak havoc on a person’s criminal record. Damage to or interruption of a communication device sounds like a lesser crime but is a class B misdemeanor and can be a common occurrence in domestic disputes.

Communication Device

Photo by: r. nial bradshaw

Utah Code 76-6-S108 defines a communication device as “. . . any device, including a telephone, cellular telephone, computer, or radio, which may be used in an attempt to summon police, fire, medical, or other emergency aid.. . Emergency aid means aid or assistance, including law enforcement, fire, or medical services, commonly summoned by persons concerned with imminent or actual:
• jeopardy to any person’s health or safety; or
• damage to any person’s property.”

Domestic disputes

There are many instances in which someone may damage or interrupt a communication device without malicious intent. For example, during an argument, a husband may decide their wife is losing control and may get violent. Husband tells wife that he is going to call the police. Wife realizes she is sounding out of control, but knows her temper is in check, so she grabs the phone and keeps it away from husband, wanting to explain the situation. Later, the police show up and arrest wife for damage to or interruption of a communications device.

Interruption of a communication device

Photo by: Matt Reinbold

Regardless of the person’s intentions, section 76-6-S108 states: “a person is guilty of damage to or interruption of a communication device if the actor attempts to prohibit or interrupt, or prohibits or interrupts, another person’s use of a communication device when the other person is attempting to summon emergency aid or has communicated a desire to summon emergency aid, and in the process the actor:

a) uses force, intimidation, or any other form of violence;
b) destroys, disables, or damages a communication device; or
c) commits any other act in an attempt to prohibit or interrupt the person’s use of a communication device to summon emergency aid.”

Damage to or interruption of a communication device is a class B misdemeanor which could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term of no more than six months.

Legal counsel

While there are many instances of damage to or interruption of a communication device that are done with ill intent, there are also many times when it is just a misunderstanding with no knowledge of the severity of the situation. For any charges related to a domestic disturbance that may or may not have been misinterpreted, it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney prior to police questioning.

Free Range Parenting in Utah – Then and Now

Free range parenting might seem like a new and lenient idea to many residents in Utah, however they may not remember how things were when they or even their parents were younger.

Leave it to Beaver

Photo by: Rennett Stowe

Remember watching the old shows on TV; the children would get up in the morning and race out the door for a day of unsupervised adventure. Meanwhile Aunt Bea or June Cleaver would be in a dress with an apron: cooking, cleaning, visiting, or gossiping – with no idea what the children were doing. Sometimes the adventures were calm even uplifting, sometimes the adventures were dangerous – Think “Lassie is Timmy in the well”. Outside of TV shows, everyday grade school children played outside until the street lights came on and were even asked to ride their bike to the corner convenience store to pick up milk or missing ingredients. Never seen in TV or reality were the adults getting arrested or have their children taken away for lack of supervision.

Latch-Key Kids

By the 1980’s several families became duo incomes. The latch-key child was born. No longer did the kids yell out “hey mom I’m going out to play. I’ll be back before dark.” The TV became the baby-sitter, children were not seen outside exploring and having adventures but they were watching the adventures of the prior generation’s children. Additionally, concern over child safety increased and so did the laws to protect the children. Parents were worried for the safety of their children and insisted they be home and answer the phone whenever the parent called to check on them.

Helicopter Mom

Photo by: Britt-knee

In the early 2000’s many families had both parents working. Stricter laws made parents leery to leave a grade-schooler alone in the home, even for a brief trip to the grocery store to buy milk. Children were seldom out of the parent’s sight for if an accident happened, there was the fear of being deemed neglectful. Adventures were always adult supervised and thus the Helicopter Mom was born. Some parents were so filled with fraught that even having the child out of sight in a public place for more than two minutes left a fear that someone might see it as an open invitation to harming the child.

Free Range Parenting

Recently the growing concern over the lack of independence in children became a movement. Free-range parenting has been increasing in popularity. Parents want their children to have freedom along with increased responsibilities. Many feel self-esteem, imagination, and responsibility are born from teaching a child, and then let them out on their own. Instead of mom’s hovering, children are being encouraged to stretch their wings and fly.

Utah Child Neglect Amendments

Photo by: Anne Worner

Utah child neglect laws were amended March 15, 2018 to give more freedom for those in favor of free range parenting. The Amendment lists several activities that are acceptable in relationship with the maturity of the child. Included are: being left unattended in a motor vehicle; riding a bike or walking to and from school or playground; being left home alone, etc. The difficulty arises in determining the maturity of the child. One person believes the child is mature enough to ride the bike to the corner store for milk, while another person may see the child as too immature to have that responsibility.

Parental and legal discernment

Some people embrace new or resurrected theories and are excited to try the concept out on themselves and on their family. Other people are slow to change and do not want vary from what they had one in the past. What one sees as acceptable another sees as neglect. Although not all families are ready to let their children experience more unsupervised freedom, those that are should use careful discernment to decide if their child is mature enough. Those Utah parents taking advantage of this new freedom should be warned however that by not specifying an exact age of when a child is old enough to be left alone, the new free range parenting laws leave that discernment not only up to the parent but the police should they be involved. If any legal trouble arises due to a parent exerting their freedom in how they choose to raise their child, contact a reputable criminal defense attorney to discuss the legal freedoms of the new free range parenting laws.

Employer Request for Personal Internet Account Information in Utah

The majority of Utah’s working class has at least one personal internet account, and it isn’t uncommon for employers to use potential employee’s profiles as a way to get to know them prior to hiring.

Social Media and Job applications

Photo by: Kathryn Decker

Beginning in 2011 many companies were asking for the Facebook user name and password of potential hires. Other companies were requiring that a potential employee “friend” the company representative. A query on Facebook and Twitter are common for potential employees. The company is trying to hire the best candidates and the more information the company has the easier it is to get the best or at least get the candidate that will embarrass the company in the least. Unknown to many employers however, some intrusions into a current or potential employees personal life were later deemed an invasion of property, similar to asking for a key to a house or apartment just for “a look around”.

 

Personal internet account information

 

Photo by: Paul O’Rear

Utah Code 34-48-201 regarding the Internet Employment Privacy Act prohibits employers or potential employers from certain hiring behavior regarding personal internet accounts. It states that an “employer may not do any of the following:

1. Request an employee or an applicant for employment to disclose a username and password, or a password that allows access to the employee’s or applicant personal Internet account; or
2. Take adverse action, fail to hire, or otherwise penalize an employee or applicant for employment for failure to disclose [above described] information”.

Unfortunately, not all employers are well versed in current hiring laws which can be especially true of smaller companies. Other companies may know of the law but still request and have the mentality of only wanting employees that are willing to disclose everything to their employer.

Potential civil and action

Bosses are still allowed to request to be your friend on social media. If they request personal internet account information then they may run them the risk of a civil suit. Regardless of how promising a job may be, an employee does not need to allow their employers to access their personal Internet account. Employees should be warned that allowing an employer this access could lead to criminal action if a potential employer finds any incriminating conversations, pictures, or videos and shares the content with law enforcement. With that said, anyone who is facing legal trouble stemming from information pulled from their personal Internet account should consult with an attorney to decide whether or not any evidence obtained falls within the parameters of a lawful search and seizure.