Damage to or Interruption of a Communication Device in Utah

Some crimes sound fairly minor, but they can wreak havoc on a person’s criminal record. Damage to or interruption of a communication device sounds like a lesser crime but is a class B misdemeanor and can be a common occurrence in domestic disputes.

Communication Device

Photo by: r. nial bradshaw

Utah Code 76-6-S108 defines a communication device as “. . . any device, including a telephone, cellular telephone, computer, or radio, which may be used in an attempt to summon police, fire, medical, or other emergency aid.. . Emergency aid means aid or assistance, including law enforcement, fire, or medical services, commonly summoned by persons concerned with imminent or actual:
• jeopardy to any person’s health or safety; or
• damage to any person’s property.”

Domestic disputes

There are many instances in which someone may damage or interrupt a communication device without malicious intent. For example, during an argument, a husband may decide their wife is losing control and may get violent. Husband tells wife that he is going to call the police. Wife realizes she is sounding out of control, but knows her temper is in check, so she grabs the phone and keeps it away from husband, wanting to explain the situation. Later, the police show up and arrest wife for damage to or interruption of a communications device.

Interruption of a communication device

Photo by: Matt Reinbold

Regardless of the person’s intentions, section 76-6-S108 states: “a person is guilty of damage to or interruption of a communication device if the actor attempts to prohibit or interrupt, or prohibits or interrupts, another person’s use of a communication device when the other person is attempting to summon emergency aid or has communicated a desire to summon emergency aid, and in the process the actor:

a) uses force, intimidation, or any other form of violence;
b) destroys, disables, or damages a communication device; or
c) commits any other act in an attempt to prohibit or interrupt the person’s use of a communication device to summon emergency aid.”

Damage to or interruption of a communication device is a class B misdemeanor which could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term of no more than six months.

Legal counsel

While there are many instances of damage to or interruption of a communication device that are done with ill intent, there are also many times when it is just a misunderstanding with no knowledge of the severity of the situation. For any charges related to a domestic disturbance that may or may not have been misinterpreted, it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney prior to police questioning.

Marital Violations in Utah

Utah has some well-known laws regarding marital violations, yet there are others that may surprise even long-time residents.

Offenses against the Family

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Utah is known to be a family-friendly state and as such has certain laws in place to protect families by criminalizing “Offenses against the Family” as described in Chapter 7 of the Utah Criminal Code. This chapter includes laws pertaining to abortion, failure to support a family, sale of children, as well as marital violations.

Marital violations

Many of the listed marital violations found in Utah Criminal Code are understandably punishable by law, however there are some that are notably dated. Bigamy, child bigamy, and incest are all felony marital violations that are noted by the general public as being punishable criminal offenses. The other two sections listed as marital violations pertain to adultery and fornication-two areas that may not be viewed by everyone as being criminal in nature.

Adultery

According to Utah Code 76-7-103 “A married person commits adultery when he voluntarily has sexual intercourse with a person other than his spouse.” While most agree with this definition of adultery, many are shocked to hear that it is against the law in Utah. That section regarding marital violations goes on to note that “Adultery is a class B misdemeanor” which Utah Courts state is punishable with a county jail term of “up to six months in jail [and] up to $1,000 fine or compensatory service.

Fornication

Photo by: Pete Birkinshaw

The following section goes one step further by not only punishing unfaithful spouses, but consenting adults who consummate their relationship prior to marriage. 76-7-104 states: “Any unmarried person who shall voluntarily engage in sexual intercourse with another is guilty of fornication. Fornication is a class B misdemeanor.” This law which was enacted in the 1973 General Session was likely approved by a generation where such actions were abhorrable.

Socially unacceptable, not criminal

Just because something seems wrong, does not mean it is necessarily criminal. While most Utah residents frown upon cheating spouses, not all agree that couples should save themselves for marriage. Some issues are better left for couples to decide for themselves.

Utah Man Arrested For Discharge of a Firearm from a Vehicle

A Utah man traveling in Colorado was arrested earlier today for discharge of a firearm from a vehicle after he fired a single random shot out of a SUV he was a passenger in.

Guns and alcohol

Photo by: Ben Brown

Colorado State troopers responded to a report of a man firing a gun into the air while traveling down I-70 in Glenwood Canyon Colorado. Officers located the vehicle in question and were able to determine that the shot was made by the passenger in the vehicle who was notably intoxicated. 43 year old Ryan Johnson from Fairview Utah was arrested for prohibited use of a weapon and reckless endangerment.

Discharge of a firearm from a vehicle

Officers were not able to determine any malicious motive behind Johnson’s choice to fire a weapon out of his vehicle and there were no injuries reported. Regardless, his actions were distressing to the public and put others in danger. Utah State Code has a law for those trigger-happy individuals who may contemplate firing a weapon from a moving vehicle, even if there was no target in mind. Utah Code 76-10-508 states the obvious: “A person may not discharge any kind of dangerous weapon or firearm . . . from an automobile or other vehicle”; Doing so is a class B misdemeanor.

Firearms, arrows, throwing stars and nunchakus

Colorado, who until now may have not needed a law specifically to deter individuals from discharging a firearm from a vehicle does punish those who do so under Colorado Revised Statute 18-12-106. That section states: a person commits a class 2 misdemeanor if. . . recklessly or with criminal negligence he discharges a firearm or shoots a bow and arrow . . . [or] has in his or her possession a firearm while the person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of a controlled substance”. That section also criminalizes using throwing stars and nunchakus on others.

Drunken regrets

Sobered up Johnson likely regretted his drunken display of gun-power and will hopefully make the wise choice to gain the assistance of a reputable attorney. Anyone else facing charges related to firearms, vehicles or both of those combined are also encouraged to seek legal counsel.