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!

Armed Robbery of Salt Lake City Restaurants

Multiple cases of armed robbery with a similar suspect description were reported by Salt Lake City restaurants within a two day stretch prior to the New Year.

String of establishments robbed at gunpoint

Armed Robbery

Photo by: Geoffrey Fairchild

Within a 48 hour window, four different businesses in Salt Lake City, including three restaurants called police to report an armed robbery in which one or two suspects brandishing firearms demanded cash from employees. At the first two locations, a suspect was described as a black man with an accent who was accompanied by another male of Hispanic descent. The next two locations the following day were apparently robbed by a similar black man with an accent who was acting alone. As descriptions of the suspects provided from witnesses at each of the armed robbery locations began to match, authorities noted that the robberies were likely connected.

Robbery vs aggravated robbery

According to Utah Code 76-6-301, “A person commits robbery if:

a) the person unlawfully and intentionally takes or attempts to take personal property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by means of force or fear, and with a purpose or intent to deprive the person permanently or temporarily of the person property; or

b) the person ( . . . ) uses force or fear of immediate force against another in the course of committing a theft or wrongful appropriation.” Robbery is a second degree felony.

If a person commits armed robbery with a dangerous weapon, causes serious bodily harm during the course of the robbery, or carjacks or attempts to carjack a vehicle with an occupant inside, it is then considered by Utah Code 76-6-302 to be aggravated robbery, a first degree felony. When caught, the suspects in the string of robberies throughout Salt Lake City will be facing a first degree felony and five years to life in prison.

Surprising cases of armed robbery

Photo by: Luke Larsson

Photo by: Luke Larsson

When a working firearm is displayed in an armed robbery, there is little doubt that a dangerous weapon was used. There are some instances however, where an item was made to appear dangerous, but in fact wasn’t. Some examples include: an unloaded or fake gun; realistic looking blades or knives; an apparently vicious animal; or even an object such as a stick or finger inside a jacket pocket making the appearance of a gun. While these “weapons” may not have been dangerous, the fear in which they instill in the victim is the same as if an actual weapon was used, and the penalties would likewise be the same. This can surprise some defendants who were perhaps not intending to create fear in someone or were not in a sober state of mind to think rationally. For more information on aggravated or armed robbery and the defense options possible with these charges, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Parent Use of Electronics to Harass a Minor

If a parent has an issue with a juvenile who may be causing their child distress, they should refrain from using the internet, text messages, or other means of electronics to angrily communicate to the youth since it is against the law to harass a minor in Utah.

Mama bear

Do Not harass a minor

Photo by: Max Goldberg

Parents have a way of finding themselves knee deep in the drama their kids bring home and can often get too involved. If a parent is upset with another child or teenager on behalf of their child, there are ways to express their feelings without breaking the law. Speaking to the other child’s parents is a respectable step or informing or school officials is recommended if something upsetting took place on campus or at a school-sponsored function. Often however, parents wish to speak directly to the minor in which they can do easily over the internet or by text message. This action however can land the adult in hot water.

Electronic communication harassment

Utah Code 76-9-201 states “ a person is guilty of electronic communication harassment and subject to prosecution in the jurisdiction where the communication originated or was received if with intent to annoy, alarm, intimidate, offend, abuse, threaten, harass, frighten, or disrupt the electronic communications of another, the person:”

• Repeatedly attempts to contact the recipient via electronic device after being asked to refrain communications,

(or through the use of an electronic device)
• “insults, taunts, or challenges the recipient” in an attempt to provoke violence;

• “threatens to inflict injury, physical harm, or damage to any person or the property of any person;

• Causes disruption, jamming, or overload of electronic communication system through excessive message traffic ( . . . )”

Penalties to electronically harass a minor

Photo by: Alassandro Valli

Photo by: Alassandro Valli

Utah law states it is a class B misdemeanor for an adult to harass another adult via electronic device. If an adult chooses to harass a minor, those charges are increased to a class A misdemeanor for the first violation of electronic communication harassment against a minor or a third degree felony if it wasn’t the first time the adult had decided to harass a minor. This law applies to all adults including overly-protective parents and even older siblings who are 18 years of age or older who may harass a minor on behalf of their younger siblings. For more information on charges stemming from electronic communication harassment, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Interfering with an Arrest in Utah When No Crime Has Been Committed

If a Utah police officer attempts to detain a suspect but a bystander is certain no crime has been committed, it is still recommended to allow officers to proceed to avoid facing possible charges for interfering with an arrest.

Do as you’re told

Photo by: Keith Allison

Photo by: Keith Allison

Law enforcement has been under increased scrutiny lately for many hot button issues such as police brutality and violation of constitutional rights. This has caused a widespread public disregard toward those once respected in uniform. This insolence toward law enforcement may give Utah residents the false notion that they can stand their ground if they feel someone is being arrested without cause. Unfortunately by interfering with an arrest, that person meddling may end up facing charges for their intrusion even if the charges for which they were interfering are dropped or deemed unlawful.

Interfering with an arrest

If an individual refuses to comply with law enforcement or attempts to stop a police officer from making an arrest, they can be charged with resisting arrest, otherwise known by Utah law as interference with arresting officer. Utah Code 76-8-305 states “a person is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if he has knowledge, or by the exercise of reasonable care should have knowledge, that a peace officer is seeking to effect a lawful arrest or detention of that person or another and interferes with the arrest or detention
(1) use of force or any weapon;
(2) the arrested person’s refusal to perform any act required by lawful order:
(a) necessary to effect the arrest or detention; and
(b) made by a peace officer involved in the arrest or detention; or

(3) the arrested person’s or another person’s refusal to refrain from performing any act that would impede the arrest or detention.”

Lawful is irrelevant

Interfering with an arrest

Photo by: Stever Baker

Although the above section states that no one should interfere with a lawful arrest, the world lawful is irrelevant as courts often look at statute’s plain language. For this reason, whether or not an arrest is lawful shouldn’t cause a person to decide that they have the right to get in the middle of police business. According to the State [of Washington] v. Holeman, “The determination of whether an arrest is lawful is often difficult and should not be left to bystanders who may have only a limited knowledge of the relevant law and who may let their emotions control their judgment.”

Acting within the scope of their authority

When it comes to making an arrest, officers are expected only to think they are making a lawful arrest. In the case of American Fork v. Pena-Flores, Nov 16 2000, it states: “Although police must have reasonable suspicion in order to make a legal detention, the use of “lawful” in section 76-8-305 does not automatically incorporate this standard in determining whether a person is guilty of interfering with a peace officer. So long as a police officer is acting within the scope of his or her authority and the detention or arrest has the indicia of being lawful, a person can be guilty of interfering with a peace officer even when the arrest or detention is later determined to be unlawful.”

Know the law

Regardless of what Utah residents feel toward law enforcement, they are not entitled to stop an officer from doing their job. Interfering with an arrest, whether or not it turns out to be lawful, will usually end badly for those trying to rid the world of injustice, one arrest at a time. If someone feels a person was detained unlawfully without reasonable suspicion or if they witnessed extreme use of force by police or a complete disregard for the detainee’s constitutional rights, it is best to file a complaint with the arresting officer’s supervisor. For those who overstepped their place and are facing charges for interfering with an arrest, contact a criminal defense attorney.