Spreading HIV is Illegal in Utah

Having protected sex or practicing abstinence is not only  a good idea to prevent unwanted pregnancies, it is the law in Utah for those that knowingly have a sexually transmitted disease.

What happens behind closed doors is everybody’s business

35 states have laws to help prevent the spread of STD’s such as HIV. Utah Code 26-6-5 states that “Any person who willfully or knowingly introduces any communicable or infectious disease into any county, municipality, or community is guilty of a class A misdemeanor […]. “ Even if precautions are taken such as wearing a condom, criminal charges can occur from transmitting STD’s. These charges are increased to a felony if the STD HIV is spread through a prostitute that is aware that they are positive with the disease.

Negligent or intentional

Not every individual that shares an STD will have charges filed against them. There are many STD’s that are difficult to tell if someone has, as not all of them have symptoms, especially in the early stages. Those that are unaware that they are carriers of an STD such as HIV will not be prosecuted. However, those that are aware of their disease and share it, whether or not they are reckless and share it through their negligence or if they intentionally infect another person, can face criminal charges.

Protect yourself and protect others

The state or government  will try to discourage the spread of STDs by having criminal penalties. Those penalties will depend on the infectiousness of the disease, and your willingness to share it. If you suspect that you may be a carrier of an STD such as HIV, get it confirmed by a doctor before you engage in sexual activities with others. If you are facing charges for negligence or even assault from transmitting an STD, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Restoring Civil Rights for Convicted Felons

Convicted felons lose more than their freedom; they lose many civil rights as well. Serving time in prison for a felony is not the only punishment for those convicted. Rights that are granted to each U.S. citizen may be withheld from convicted felons while they serve prison time or for the rest of their lives.

Photo by: Kelley Minars

Photo by: Kelley Minars

Right to Vote

The right to vote is something that every U.S. citizen is granted as soon as they turn 18 years of age. Being convicted of a felony will suspend this right temporarily in most states. According the Title 20A Chapter 2 Section 101.5 of the Utah State Code, “Each convicted felon’s right to register to vote and to vote in an election is restored when:
(a) the felon is sentenced to probation;
(b) the felon is granted parole; or
(c) the felon has successfully completed the term of incarceration to which the felon was sentenced. “

Hence, as long as you’ve served your time or been released, your right to vote will be restored.

Right to Hold Office

Watch yourself Mr. Mayor, cross your “t’s” and dot your “i’s” city council members. Getting a felony charge loses the convicted person’s right to hold office. In order for someone to hold office again, they not only have to serve the time given them for their crimes, they either have to have their record expunged or wait a decade to run for office again. This doesn’t apply in every case however. According to Utah State Code, “ an individual who has been convicted of a grievous sexual offence,[…] against a child, may not hold the office of State Board of Education member or local school board member.”

Right to Serve on a Jury

While many U.S. citizens detest getting a jury summons in the mail, a convicted felon that has been at the mercy of a jury before may wish to have that right later in life. Maybe they were displeased with the way the jury handled the case and evidence and wish to be a better juror for someone else if given the chance. Perhaps they were satisfied with the jury system and wish to be a part of it themselves someday. Unfortunately, the majority of states exclude convicted felons for life from participating in a jury. Fortunately, in the state of Utah, convicted felons are restored their right to serve on a jury if they’ve had their record expunged.

Photo by: Richard Loyal French

Photo by: Richard Loyal French

Right to Bear Arms

In 18 U.S. Code § 922 it states “It shall be unlawful for any person […] who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year; […] to possess […] any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition […]
If a convicted felon disobeys this law by being in possession of a firearm is looking at an additional 10 years behind bars. Although this law sounds absolute, there are ways for convicts to restore their gun rights. The only way for a convicted felon to go about this is to have their record expunged. Unfortunately, as gun laws tighten, restoring gun rights to convicted felons tighten as well. For instance, there are times when records can be expunged for those wishing to vote, hold office, or serve on a jury, but there is will be an exception with restoring the right to bear arms. This is most common with violent crimes. Capital crimes, sex crimes against children, first and second degree forcible felonies, as well as repeat felons or those who have already had their records expunged before.

Seek Legal Counsel

If you or are a convicted felon who has finished serving the required time for your crimes and has waited to allotted amount of time for “cleansing”, speak with an attorney about restoring your civil rights and returning to society with the equal rights given to all U.S. citizens.

Selecting the Right Jury

If your criminal case goes to trial, selecting the right jury is important to ensure that you are given a fair trial.  Besides being randomly selected from voter and driver’s license information, potential jurors are further interviewed before becoming members of your jury.

Photo by: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

Photo by: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

Voir Dire A.K.A. Jury Profiling

Do you know the defendant, attorneys, or witnesses?  Have you, a family member, or a close friend been involved in a similar case?  Jurors are initially asked questions like these to determine if they could be biased to one side or the other.  Following those inqueries is a questionnaire that will be answer by each member of the jury.  Questions regarding things as personal as hobbies, employment, & family status are asked to give attorneys an in-depth view of how the juror may be swayed in the case.

Strrrrike!

Succeeding the questionnaire, attorneys will often have follow up questions for the jurors to help them with selecting the right jury for their side.  Then, each attorney is allowed to strike out a designated number of potential jurors who they feel would not be well suited for the case.  Each attorney can strike out as few as 3 jurors in a civil or misdemeanor case to as many as 20 for a death penalty case.  This is when your criminal defense attorney can nearly hand pick those jurors that will give you a fair trial.  Additionally, if your attorney feels that a remaining juror would not be unbiased in the case, they can attempt to challenge that juror as well.

An Impartial Jury

Any individual facing criminal charges deserves a fair, unprejudiced trial.  This can be accomplished by selecting the right jury.  An experienced criminal defense attorney will know the questions to ask and what to look for in potential jurors to give you a better chance of having your case tried justly.