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!

Man Tired of Being Single – Makes Terrorist Threats While Visiting Utah

A Colorado man visiting Utah was tired of being single and used social media to make terrorist threats against girls.

Loveless and lawless

Terrorist threats

Photo by: Pietro Zanarini

27 year old Christopher Wayne Cleary of Denver, Colorado was visiting Provo, Utah when he posted on Facebook his woes regarding his lack of a romantic life. In the midst of his personal oversharing, he also made terrorist threats against girls by threatening to cause a mass shooting and kill “as many girls as I see.” Alert members of the online community contacted Denver police who then tracked Cleary down to his location in Provo. Officers in police were able to apprehend Cleary peacefully where he was then questioned before being booked into the Utah County jail for making the terrorist threats.

Making terrorist threats

Cleary is facing charges of a probation violation as well as felony charges for making terrorist threats. Utah Code 76-5-107.3 states “A person commits [terrorist threats] if the person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and:

• Threatens the use of a weapon of mass destruction . . . ; or
• Threatens the use of a hoax weapon of mass destruction . . . ; [both second degree felonies] or
• Acts with intent to:
o Intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence or affect the conduct of a government or a unit of government [a second degree felony];
o Prevent or interrupt the occupation of a building or a portion of the building, a place to which the public has access, or a facility or vehicle of public transportation operated by a common carrier [a third degree felony] ; or
o Cause an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies to take action due to the person’s conduct posing a serious and substantial risk to the general public [a class B misdemeanor].”

That section goes on to note that “A threat under this section may be express[ed] or implied.”

Social media oversharing

Law enforcement officers did not report finding any weapons on Cleary and when they found him he was merely sitting at a McDonalds, not taking actions to carry out his threat. Cleary was compliant with police and when asked, he didn’t deny making the terrorist threats. According to Cleary, he posted the threat on Facebook when he was distraught and quickly took it down following the backlash from other Facebook users. While it may be seen as awkward and even inappropriate, many social media users use their posting rights to “vent” when they are upset. Some may overshare by openly saying what is on their mind. Others might participate in “Vague-booking” or posting vague comments to get the attention of someone specific or anyone who will ask follow-up questions. However they go about it, often these “venting” posts are taking down once the person has calmed down and realized they have probably posted a little bit too much personal information for every single one of the Facebook friends to see.

Crossing the criminal line

While the awkward venting posts may not result in much more than embarrassment, using the social media resource to threaten harm on a single individual or a group of people can quickly lead to criminal charges even if the person never had any intention of carrying out their threat. Utah Code 76-5-107.3 defined above warns that “it is not a defense . . . that the person did not attempt to carry out or was incapable of carrying out the threat.” Anyone using their accounts for venting are warned to always keep their posts within legal boundaries. Those facing criminal charges for comments or posts they made to any social media accounts including terrorist threats are encouraged to immediately seek legal counsel from a reputable attorney.

Man Offering Tweens Candy Arrested for Disorderly Conduct

A Utah man was arrested in St. George last week for disorderly conduct after attempting to lure some tweens by offering them candy.

Stranger danger

Photo by: Phillip Male

Last week a southern Utah mom made a Facebook plea to residents to be on the lookout for a guy who behaved in a creepy manner toward her daughter and a few of her friends. According to the mom’s post, the man approached the tweens as they were walking and offered them candy to which they declined. He then invited them to join him at a party which was also countered with a “no”. It was then that a mother of one of the girls pulled up and asked the individual to leave the girls alone.

Creepy to criminal

Up to this point, all the individual had done was offer the girls candy and an invite to a party. Although this is creepy and inappropriate behavior, nothing about it was against the law. When the mom got involved, the man became notably irritated. He then proceeded to yell at her, violently strike her vehicle hood with his fist before throwing a bag of candy into her car and taking off. It was at this point that his behavior transition from creepy to criminal.

Disorderly conduct

Police were able to locate and apprehend 41 year old Jeffrey Lambert who was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility on a variety of charges including disorderly conduct. Utah Code 76-9-102 states: “A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if . . . intending to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, the person:

(i) Engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous, or threatening behavior;
(ii) Makes unreasonable noises in a public place;
(iii) Makes unreasonable noises in a private place which can be heard in a public place; or
(iv) Obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic in a public place. . .

Disorderly conduct is a class C misdemeanor if the offense continues after a request by a person to desist. Otherwise it is an infraction.”

Defamation of accused

While the behavior of Lambert toward the tweens was questionable, the community had already identified him publicly prior to his arrest. Not only did the community jump in the find the suspect, they also made public assumptions that proved to be not entirely correct. While Lambert did offer the girls candy, he did not lace it with drugs as many presumed. Additionally, speculations had arisen as to what his intentions were. While many can guess, only those investigating the case will know for sure. The community is encouraged to not publicly burn someone at the stake but instead let the individual face their charges in a court of law. Anyone who does otherwise and publicly slanders a suspect could face their own charges of criminal defamation. For more information on criminal charges and defamation that could arise prior to or during a case, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Homeless man Arrested for Aggravated Murder of an Officer in Utah

A 40 year old homeless Utah man was arrested for aggravated murder of an officer after he shot and killed a policeman attempting to apprehend him.

Attempt to arrest a fugitive

29 year old Joseph Shinners, a three year veteran officer with the Provo Police Department was killed earlier this month while attempting to apprehend a fugitive in Orem, Utah. Shinners was responding to a location alert regarding a fugitive who had a history of making violent threats towards police officers. When Shinners arrived and attempted to apprehend the suspect he was shot and later died at Utah Valley Hospital. The 40 year old suspect who is not being named at this time was arrested for aggravated murder of an officer.

Aggravated murder of an officer

Utah Code 76-5-202 states regarding aggravated murder of an officer that: “criminal homicide constitutes aggravated murder [of an officer] . . if the victim is or has been a peace officer, law enforcement officer, executive officer, prosecuting officer, jailer, prison official, firefighter, judge or other court official, juror, probation officer, or parole officer, and the victim is either on duty or the homicide is based on, is caused by, or is related to that official position, and the actor knew, or reasonably should have known, that the victim holds or has held that official position”.

Criminal penalties

That section goes on to note that “If a notice of intent to seek the death penalty has been files, aggravated murder is a capital felony. If a notice of intent to seek the death penalty has not been filed, aggravated murder is a noncapital first degree felony”. A noncapital first degree felony is punishable by 25 years to life in prison. For more information on crimes against police officers and how they differ from crimes against regular citizens, contact a criminal defense attorney.