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!

Utah Police Find Five Pounds of Marijuana Candy after Responding to a Reported Theft

Police officers in Vineyard, Utah were responding to a report of a theft and ended up finding five pounds of marijuana candy instead.

Think before you call

Marijuana Candy

Photo by: Jorge Romero

20 year old Taylor Sauers of Vineyard, Utah called police to file a report regarding a theft of a handgun, cash, and other valuables from his apartment. When police arrived at the residence, they noted an obvious marijuana odor coming from inside. The smell of marijuana was considered enough probable cause for a search warrant, and when officers returned to search the property, they located nearly five pounds of marijuana candy in the form of gummy bears.

Second degree intent to distribute marijuana candy

Sauers is facing a second degree felony for intent to distribute the marijuana candy, along with two class B misdemeanor charges related to possession and paraphernalia. No information was released regarding the stolen goods, however the large lump sum of money missing is assumed to be drug money and Sauers will not be able to own the handgun anyway if his felony charge sticks. The young adult is likely regretting his call to police, which turned out worse for him that it did for the thief.

One to 15 years

Photo by: houstondwiPhotos mp

Photo by: houstondwiPhotos mp

A second degree felony in the state of Utah carries a possible prison term of one to 15 years in prison as well as a $10,000 fine. Each class B misdemeanor may tack on an additional $1,000 and six month behind bars if sentences run consecutively. With 15 plus years on the line, Sauers and anyone else charged with intent to distribute marijuana candy or any other illegal drugs are encouraged to seek legal counsel.

Animal Cruelty and other Crimes against Pets in Utah

Many Utah residents love their fur babies as if they were part of their family and are horrified when crimes against pets such as animal cruelty occur.

Torture of a companion animal

Animal Cruelty

Photo by: Matt Deavenport

A Provo, Utah man was recently convicted of torture of a companion animal after he sought out, purchased, tortured, and killed nearly a dozen kittens. 26 year old Gene Bairschmidt appeared unmoved following his sentencing of third degree animal cruelty; a charge punishable by up to five years in prison. Bairschmidt’s lack of emotion as well as his intentional torture of a companion animal was disturbing and likely indicated he was suffering from one or more psychiatric disorders.

Poisoning

Another Utah resident was charged with animal cruelty recently after she haphazardly scattered a dangerous poison around her unfenced property, resulting in the death of a neighbor’s puppy. 68 year old Nina Bennett of Summit Park was not intentionally out to hurt the young dog, but was irresponsible in her application of strychnine poisoning used for pest control. The owner of the puppy pressed charges and Bennett was charged with aggravated animal cruelty, a class B misdemeanor. She was sentenced up to six months in jail.

Fighting

Another saddening form of animal cruelty is animal fighting. Animal fighting is when two or more animals are encouraged or trained to fight one another for entertainment or gambling purposes. Although other animals can also be bred and used for fighting purposes, dogs and roosters (cocks) are the most popular in the ring. Game dogs or cocks are usually kept in deplorable circumstances with frequent abuse, resulting in them being aggressive and ready for battle. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah cares for several animals that are rescued from inhumane circumstance such as dog fighting rings. Many of the animals rescued from fighting rings have withstood such extensive abuse that they are unable to be adopted and will permanently reside at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Animal cruelty

Photo by: tanjila ahmed

Photo by: tanjila ahmed

While torture of a companion animal, poisoning of pets and wildlife, as well as animal fighting may be obvious forms of animal cruelty, there are other actions and behavior that can result in similar charges. Utah Code 76-9-301 lists the other various conducts which can result in animal cruelty charges such:

Lack of adequate shelter or protection against “extreme weather conditions”. A simple dog house in below freezing temperatures is cruel and may result in criminal charges. Local animal control officers can instruct Utah residents on how to give their animals proper shelter if the pets are unable to be housed indoors.

Animal abandonment. If an animal is no longer wanted or if the owners are unable to keep their pet, there are several rescue groups throughout Utah willing to take them in. Dropping a pet off on the side of the road and driving away is not the way to relinquish parental pet rights and can result in animal cruelty charges.

Failure to provide necessary food and water. If an animal is in a person’s custody, which Utah Code defines to mean “ownership, possession, or control over an animal”, that person is responsible for providing “appropriate and essential food and water”. Forgetting, being busy, or being unable to feed an animal due to financial difficulties are not valid excuses for not feeding a pet. Failure to provide food and water as well as animal abandonment , lack of shelter, animal fighting, and inflicting injuries can result in a class B misdemeanor or class C misdemeanor, depending on whether or not the abuse was intentional or just reckless.

Killing an animal “without having a legal privilege to do so”. Slaying an animal for reasons such as trespassing or annoyance is not permitted unless the resident feels that they, their family, or their pet’s life is in immediate danger. Aggressive or nuisance animals should simply be reported to animal control to handle. Killing an animal is considered aggravated animal cruelty, the same as torture and poisoning. Aggravated animal cruelty penalties range from a class C misdemeanor to a class A misdemeanor, depending on intention and negligence.

Protected pets

All animals, whether domesticated or wild are protected in Utah under various rulings such as animal cruelty laws, animal husbandry laws, and even hunting and fishing regulations. For anyone facing charges for animal cruelty or other crimes against pets and other wildlife, consult with a criminal defense attorney.

Exercising the Right to Protest in Utah without Breaking the Law

The right to protest is one that residents in Utah and throughout the country have been exercising a great deal lately, and it is important for protesters to know how to exercise that right without breaking the law.

Right to protest

Right to Protest

Photo by: Jean-Philippe Bourque

Within a little over a week, Americans have participated in three different events where citizens were exercising their right to protest.

• January 20th, 2017. Inauguration Day “anti-Trump” protests began peacefully yet ended in over 200 protesters being arrested and several police officers being injured. Additionally, glass store fronts were smashed and a limo was set on fire. The damage by the protesters exceeded 100 thousand dollars.

• January 21st, 2017. Women’s March on Washington. With nearly half a million citizens supporting the cause of women’s rights and exercising their right to protest, there was not a single arrest made during that demonstration.

• January 27th, 2017. March for Life. A protest that like the other demonstrations, also brought in hundreds of thousands of individuals exercising their right to protest, ended with less than ten arrests; those arrests made were from individuals opposing the protest.

These three different events where citizens used their right to free speech to rally together on behalf of a cause all began legally, but only one of the demonstrations ended in mass arrests, property damage, and injuries.

The First Amendment

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The First Amendment specifically mentions the word “peaceably” regarding the right to protest. It does not excuse violence, property damage, or other dangerous behavior.

Rules of protesting

Photo by: Yannick Gingras

Photo by: Yannick Gingras

All citizens should practice their right to protest and are protected while exercising that right, but there are rules associated with all public behavior. Not only are demonstrators to refrain from protesting on private property without permission or a permit, they must abide by certain restraints regarding time and location. Additionally, if a protester demonstrates their cause while assaulting others, damaging property, or inciting a riot, they are subject to criminal penalties. Those who face charges following a protest are encouraged to seek legal counsel.