Public Intoxication on Private Property

They who stroll around town belligerently drunk risk being arrested for public intoxication, but what if they are on their own private property?

Photo by: harlandspinksphoto

Photo by: harlandspinksphoto

Public intoxication defined

Utah Code 76-9-701 states “A person is guilty of [public] intoxication if the person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or any substance having the property of releasing toxic vapors, to a degree that the person may endanger the person or another, in a public place or in a private place where the person unreasonably disturbs other persons.”

Loud drunks

If someone is intoxicated on their private property but is being loud enough to disturb their neighbors, they can be charged with public intoxication. What about those who wish to drink quietly in their front yard, never disturbing others? This is a gray area which a few have fought in court and won recently. There are a couple ways to help in prevent cases such as these.

Fenced private property with signs

If the general public can enter a yard or porch without having to open a gate, many law enforcement officers agree that the property therefore becomes public, since anyone can access it. If a fence with a gate is placed around the property with signs stating that it is private, that can help distinguish the property as not being public, and can make public intoxication charges harder to stick.

Keep it down

Even if a yard is fenced, a loud party with several drunken friends is likely to get the police called. By keeping things quiet, those in a party who venture outside to possibly have a smoke or to get some fresh air will be noticed less by neighbors. For those facing public intoxication while they were on their own private property, contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss if the charges are just.

Utah School Bus Driver Facing Molestation Charges

The trial commenced today for a Sandy, Utah school bus driver who is facing molestation charges for inappropriately touching young girls on his bus last year. 61 year old John Martin Carrell faces over 30 counts of molestation charges for allegedly touching two 5 year old girls while he buckled them into their seats.

Sexual Abuse

Molestation is known by law as sexual abuse. According to Utah Code 96-5-404 “A person commits sexual abuse of a child if, under circumstances not amounting to rape of a child, object rape of a child, sodomy on a child, or an attempt to commit any of these offenses, the actor touches the anus, buttocks, or genitalia of any child, the breast of a female child, or otherwise takes indecent liberties with a child, or causes a child to take indecent liberties with the actor or another with intent to cause substantial emotional or bodily pain to any person or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person regardless of the sex of any participant. Sexual abuse of a child is a second degree felony.” In cases such as Carrell’s, because he was in a position of trust as a school district bus driver, if convicted he could face aggravated sexual abuse which is a first degree felony.

Photo by: Shinichi Sugiyama

Photo by: Shinichi Sugiyama

Evidence or lack thereof

While video surveillance showing Carrell spending an excessive amount of time buckling the victims in could possibly seal his fate, often there is no video to incriminate or exonerate the suspect. Besides testimony from the victim, the only evidence usually available in molestation cases is evidence apparent to a physician. Even then, it doesn’t always pinpoint the right suspect. With evidence typically being based solely on testimony, it makes one wonder how many charges are false.

Molestation charges often fabricated

Molestation cases against various people such as bus drivers are frequently showing up in the news and occasionally are found to be fabricated stories. This is extremely unfortunate for those falsely accused of the charges, as it may negatively impact their current and future employment. This may be the case for 44 year old Enrique Napoles of Miami. Napoles was charged with molestation in late February when a student on his private bus claimed he had molested her while they were alone on the bus. After no evidence or witness testimony was found to support the charges, the prosecution dropped the charges. Nothing is known as to whether or not Napoles remained employed with the company; nevertheless many assume they wouldn’t continue to employ someone who had been charged with molestation of a child.

Who makes up the stories?

When someone is found to be innocent of molestation charges, a typical thought after the initial skepticism is: the victim needed attention or was mad at the suspect. While this may be true in a few cases, there are other reasons why people are falsely accused of molestation.
• A child who was in fact molested, but chooses to blame another for reasons such as fear or shame.
• Parents and/or caretakers who notice the child behaving abnormally and proceed to make assumptions.
• Teachers & counselors seeing or hearing about questionable behavior at school, and follow up with a call to law enforcement.
• Someone besides the victim who is angry or otherwise upset with the accused. They may try to punish or hurt the accused by making false allegations.
Besides those strictly out for attention or revenge, these are frequently honest mistakes of an adult seeing “red flags” and making the phone calls that they feel are necessary.

Permanent damage to criminal record

Even if someone is not convicted of molestation or sexual abuse their criminal record may still list the fact that they were arrested for it. Employers are privy to this information before hiring and they don’t always distinguish between convicted and arrested. This can make it difficult for falsely accused individuals to work in employment where children are located such as schools. For information on how you can protect or clean your record or for help in defending yourself against fabricated or factual molestation charges, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Burglary and Robbery

When a thief breaks into a home and the resident is there, the burglary may turn into robbery instead.  Burglary and robbery are often used interchangeably and although they are both property crimes, the two are different according to Utah state law.

Photo by: Tim Samoff

Photo by: Tim Samoff

Burglary defined

Utah code 76-6-202 states that “An actor is guilty of burglary who enters or remains unlawfully in a building or any portion of a building with intent to commit: a felony, theft, […]”. Someone can commit burglary by breaking into a house while the homeowners are away on vacation.  Burglary, or breaking and entering, doesn’t necessarily have to involve the victim themselves, just their home and their belongings.

Robbery in comparison

76-6-301 states “A person commits robbery if: the person […] takes or attempts to take person property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by means of force or fear […]”.  Therefore to be considered robbery, a victim must be present at the scene of the crime and feel threatened or forced to give up their belongs by the intruder.  Likewise, robbery doesn’t have to involve a dwelling or building whereas burglary does.

Penalties for burglary and robbery

76-6-202 defines burglary as a 3rd degree felony “unless it was committed in a dwelling, in which event it is a second degree felony.” Robbery, whether it takes place in a dwelling or in public is always a 2nd degree felony as it involves another person directly.  If convicted, burglary and robbery charges can bring lengthy prison time.  Many criminals with a history of theft don’t fully understand the ramifications when they directly involve the victim or intrude on someone’s home. For anyone facing burglary and/or robbery charges, communicate with a criminal defense attorney immediately.