Felony Charges for Aiding and Abetting in Poaching Crime

Helping a couple friends with an illegal activity usually comes at a cost, as one Utah politician learned the hard way as he now faces felony charges for aiding and abetting in a poaching crime.

Permission to hunt on land illegally

Earlier this month, the mayor of Hurricane Utah was arrested for aiding and abetting after he allowed a couple friends to hunt protected mule deer on his land. Although Mayor John Bramall was not stated to be an active participant in the hunt, he knowingly allowed the men to hunt the deer on his land, an act the state of Utah claims to be aiding and abetting in the wonton destruction of protected wildlife.

Aiding and abetting a poaching crime

Utah Code 23-20-23 of the Wildlife Resources Code of Utah states: “It is unlawful for any person to aid or assist any other person to violate any provisions of this code or any rules or regulations promulgated under it. The penalty for violating this section is the same as for the provision or regulation for which aid or assistance is given.” For aiding and abetting with a poaching crime, Mayor Bramall will face the same charges as if he were the one who had pulled the trigger.

Two deer, two charges

Since there were two deer killed unlawfully, there are two different charges for Mayor Bramall to face. The value of the smaller deer was between $250 and $500, which according to Utah Code 23-20-4 would make the poaching of said deer a class A misdemeanor. The larger trophy deer was valued at more than $500, which is punishable as a third degree felony. The mayor of Hurricane, whose term isn’t up until 2018, may face up to five years in jail for essentially looking the other way while a crime was committed on his property.

Flying under the Influence in Utah

A pilot from Utah was recently arrested for flying under the influence (FUI?) after he attempted to fly a commercial passenger plane with blood alcohol content over the legal flying limit.

A tipsy pilot

Flying Under the Influence

Photo by: Cory W. Watts

38 year old Russel Duszak from Salt Lake City was arrested for flying under the influence after airport personnel detected a strong odor of alcohol from Duszak nearly 30 minutes prior to his flight from South Dakota to Utah. Authorities did not state the exact blood alcohol content of Duszak, only affirming that it was over the .04 limit for pilots.

Flying under the influence in Utah

Utah Code 72-10-50 states: “A person may not operate or be in actual physical control of an aircraft within this state if the person:
(i) has sufficient alcohol in his body that a subsequent chemical test shows that the person has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .04 grams or greater at the time of the test;
(ii) is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating an aircraft; or
(iii) has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .04 grams or greater at the time of operation or actual physical control.”
Any person convicted of flying under the influence is guilty of a class B misdemeanor or class A misdemeanor if someone was injured during the drunken flight.

In control of the plane

Some may argue that Duszak cannot be arrested for flying under the influence as he was technically not flying the plane, seeing how passengers hadn’t even boarded yet. This may be true however when it comes to DUI’s, a driver does not need to be driving a vehicle intoxicated to get a DUI- they only need to be in control of the vehicle. 30 minutes prior to takeoff, there was a high likelihood that Duszak was in the cockpit, in control of the plane. Additionally, federal regulations prohibit any pilot from consuming alcohol eight hours before a flight. So either way he would be facing charges whether state, federal, or both.

Nothing Funny about Clowns Who Make Violent Threats toward Schools

Clowns can either be frightening or humorous but most everyone agrees there is nothing funny about them when violent threats toward schools are made. As disturbing as it may be, are any laws actually being broken?

Common fear

violent threats by clowns

Photo by: taymtaym

Being afraid of clowns is a very common fear, with numerous kids and adults sharing a mutual apprehension about the wigged entertainers with painted faces and tricks up their sleeves. The term for this phobia is Coulrophobia, meaning an abnormal fear of clowns. Several horror-based books and movies play on this phobia as well as many haunted houses which just so happen to be increasing in popularity this time of year. Although many people poke fun or crack jokes regarding this fear of clowns, it stops being comical for everyone when the public actually fears for their safety.

The clown epidemic

In August, there were reports of a clown who was trying to lure children into a wooded area near an apartment complex in Greenville, South Carolina. Following this incident, other disturbing clown sightings started popping up around the nation, including here in Utah in cities from Ogden down to St. George. Most instances are nothing more than clowns in abnormal locations or settings who stare at people creepily, making bystanders nervous. Other instances however have taken it too far by making violent threats directed toward Utah schools.

Violent threats lead to school lock downs

So far none of the violent threats to schools have turned into any dangerous situations. Regardless however, schools and law enforcement have to follow certain protocols in the event of violent threats toward the kids at school. Part of this protocol involves putting the threatened schools on lock down. This causes undue stress for the teachers, students, and parents. It can also end in criminal charges for those clowns involved.

Clown crimes

Photo by: William Gray

Photo by: William Gray

While many clown acts can appear so corny a person might wish they were outlawed, there is nothing wrong or illegal with dressing like a circus performer. Seeing a random clown on the street may seem bizarre if it is not yet Halloween or the person isn’t headed to a child’s birthday party, but there isn’t anything illegal about the person simply dressing “differently”. As long as the person isn’t breaking any laws, they are free to dress in whatever clothes they desire with their face painted as colorful as they wish. If a clown decides to chase children or make violent threats towards a school, that is a different story. Those actions will result in criminal charges such as:

Disorderly conduct. A person dressed up as a clown is allowed to stand or walk along a street just as any other resident is but if they chase after kids they can be arrested for disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor. In this regards, disorderly conduct is defined by Utah Code 76-9-102 as “intending to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, ( . . . ) the person: engages in ( . . . ) threatening behavior.” Kids or adults with or without a clown phobia would most likely feel threatened if they were randomly chased by a scary clown.

Stalking. If a clown chooses to target a person by repeatedly either following them, showing up at their home or work, or otherwise as Utah Code 76-5-106.5 states: “intentionally or knowingly engag[ing] in a course of conduct directed a specific person and knows or should know that the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person: to fear for the person’s own safety ( . . . ) or to suffer other emotional duress”, they can be arrested for stalking, a class A misdemeanor.

Making violent threats. One of the most disturbing things being done by these creepy clowns is the numerous violent threats towards schools across the country. Many of these threats to schools are being made anonymously through social media which thanks to the internet is quickly spreads to students, teachers, and parents, causing widespread panic as well as using up valuable law enforcement resources. Utah Code 76-5-107 warns that if a person “commits a threat of violence [by] the person threaten[ing] to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, ( . . . ), it is a class B misdemeanor” whether or not the threat was expressed or implied. If that person or clown makes a threat of using a weapon of mass destruction, that can be seen as a terrorist threat.

Dangerous for all involved

Photo by: Steven Sanchez

Photo by: Steven Sanchez

While some may see these clown pranks as amusing, it is causing residents to fear for their safety while possibly increasing the danger for those dressed as clowns. The public has already expressed a desire to use force against any clown that makes them feel threatened. With a large majority of the Utah population having concealed carry permits, this may prove a danger for all clowns on Utah streets. The clown pranksters are encouraged for their own safety to refrain from further threatening behavior or plan on seeking legal counsel if caught.