Collecting Rainwater Legally in Utah

Drought conditions continue to worsen in several states including Utah and collecting rainwater seems to be a smart way to conserve our precious commodity; however residents need to make sure they are doing so legally.

Photo by: Daryl Mitchell

Photo by: Daryl Mitchell

The rain belongs to…

In the past, many western states outlawed collecting rainwater, making sure the drops hitting roofs could eventually make their way to rivers without any interruption by residents. Then this water was sold in shares to those willing to pay, or given to those with grandfather’s rights on the land. This was the law up until a few years ago for Utah.

Why didn’t we think of that before?

A bill legalizing rainwater collection in Utah was passed in 2010 and amended in 2013. Why it took so long for a state plagued by drought to allow all residents to help conserve water by collecting rainwater, we may never fully understand. Although this practice is legal now, there are rules to follow to avoid charges.

Legal Rainwater Harvesting

According to the Utah Division of Water Rights:
• “To collect, store, and place the captured precipitation to a beneficial use, a person must register the use with the Utah Division of Water Rights as detailed in [Utah Code] 73-3-1.5.”

• “A person may collect and store precipitation without registering in no more than two covered storage containers if neither covered container has a maximum storage capacity of greater than 100 gallons. “

•  “The total allowed storage capacity with registration is no more than 2,500 gallons. Collection and use are limited to the same parcel of land on which the water is captured and stored. “[…]

For Utah residents who were unaware that there are guidelines for collecting rainwater and who may be facing charges, contact a defense attorney to find out your rights regarding penalties for not abiding by this law.

Identity Theft in Utah

Identity theft is not a new problem, but it is a growing one in Utah. Glancing at the local booking reports on any given day will show more than one person arrested for having someone else’s information. There are several different ways in which identity theft can happen and reasons that lead people to the crime.

Photo by: Don Hankins

Photo by: Don Hankins

Credit Fraud

Credit fraud is a type of identity theft where the criminal steals another’s identity to fraudulently acquire something that would affect your credit score such as credit cards, loans, or other types of credit. This is what is typically searched for when individuals check their credit report annually.

Wage Fraud

Wage fraud isn’t as easily detected as it doesn’t show on the victim’s credit report. Wage fraud is simply using someone else identity to obtain employment. The victim’s credit is left untouched; however they may face problems come tax time.

Medical Identity Theft

A name, social security number, and insurance information is all that is needed for thieves to use a person’s identity to seek medical care, get prescription drugs, or take money from flexible spending accounts, or to scam the insurance companies themselves. The elderly are frequent targets for medical identity theft as they are more trusting when approached by those posing as insurance spokespersons and they often don’t keep track of their Medicare and other insurance billing online as much as younger generations.

Targeting our youth

While the elderly are common targets for medical identity theft, the newest victims of overall identity theft are young. The newest trend among identity thieves is obtaining the social security numbers for children who have no use for their social security numbers usually until they are of working age. If a young child or even a brand new baby has their social security number stolen, this gives the thieves up to 16 years to use the number, oftentimes undetected until the child starts work or needs a student loan. Teenagers applying for their first jobs or 18 year olds applying for student aid are surprised when they discover on their record are years of wages earned and thousands of dollars in debt racked up.

Why?

There are those out there who make a business are selling or using someone elses identity. They know they are committing a crime and they are well aware that they are hurting the victims of the theft. Unfortunately, there are also those who steal another’s identity because they feel stuck. A good example of this is ex-felons looking for work. Applying for most jobs requires background checks that include previous convictions. Having their past red flagged even though a felon’s debt to society has already been paid makes it difficult to survive in this economy. This can push them to use another’s information just to survive. Other reasons why thieves steal personal information include to:

• Obtain housing
• Purchase vehicles
• Acquire government medical insurance, such as Medicaid
• Get utilities such as water or electricity turned on at a residence
• Open credit cards or bank accounts

Photo by: Flazingo Photos

Photo by: Flazingo Photos

The law on identity theft

Utah code 76-6-1102 states that “A person is guilty of identity fraud when that person knowingly or intentionally uses, or attempts to use, the personal identifying information of another person, whether that person is alive or deceased, with fraudulent intent, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, employment, any other thing of value, or medical information.”

Penalties

Whether for the purpose of hurting others for extra cash or just trying to make ends meet, identity theft is a crime. If the value of the stolen good or information is valued under $5,000, then it is considered a 3rd degree felony. If the amount is for over 5 grand then it is a 2nd degree felony. Although many things have a cash value, others are difficult to put a dollar amount on. For those that are facing charges for identity theft, consult with an Utah attorney to defend you in the crime and protect you against extravagant amounts added that can be added to increase your charges.

Counterfeit Coins for Vending Machines

Slugs are counterfeit coins or other objects similar in size, shape, and weight that are used in place of actual money to illegally deceive vending machines.

Photo by: midorisyu

Photo by: midorisyu

Tricking the candy machines

Over 30 years ago, washers were used often to trick vending machines to release a yummy treat or toy. Additionally, many children over the years have tried to use a penny in quarter machines, only to have it get jammed and not get a toy or treat in the end. These were wrong, almost harmless acts done by mischievous kids; however this act of fooling machines has gotten out of hand.

Moving up in the world

There are many machines nowadays that use coins besides candy vending machines. Slot machines, retail self-checkout tellers, and fare teller machines are a few example of equipment that holds a higher value prize than a .10 cent gumdrop. While using slugs or counterfeit coins in any machine is against the law, cheating one of these higher roller devices can cost the business or machine owner an incredible amount of cash.

New Technology

As we neared the 90’s, vending and other dispense machine owners and creators realized how easily their devices were being taken advantage of. They answered by developing new technology such as: sensors that verify the image on the coin and instruments that test the magnetic sensitivity of the type of metal. Counter measures such as these have helped prevent slugs from being used successfully, but it is still a widespread practice today.

Charges for using slugs

Whether someone is tricking quarter machines or slot machines, there are charges for deliberately defrauding any type of coin equipment by using slugs versus actual coinage. Utah code 76-5-515 states that using, making, or possessing slugs or counterfeit coins punishable by law as a class B misdemeanor. For those who are facing charges for using counterfeit coins, whether intentionally or innocently, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.