Interfering with an Arrest in Utah When No Crime Has Been Committed

If a Utah police officer attempts to detain a suspect but a bystander is certain no crime has been committed, it is still recommended to allow officers to proceed to avoid facing possible charges for interfering with an arrest.

Do as you’re told

Photo by: Keith Allison

Photo by: Keith Allison

Law enforcement has been under increased scrutiny lately for many hot button issues such as police brutality and violation of constitutional rights. This has caused a widespread public disregard toward those once respected in uniform. This insolence toward law enforcement may give Utah residents the false notion that they can stand their ground if they feel someone is being arrested without cause. Unfortunately by interfering with an arrest, that person meddling may end up facing charges for their intrusion even if the charges for which they were interfering are dropped or deemed unlawful.

Interfering with an arrest

If an individual refuses to comply with law enforcement or attempts to stop a police officer from making an arrest, they can be charged with resisting arrest, otherwise known by Utah law as interference with arresting officer. Utah Code 76-8-305 states “a person is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if he has knowledge, or by the exercise of reasonable care should have knowledge, that a peace officer is seeking to effect a lawful arrest or detention of that person or another and interferes with the arrest or detention
(1) use of force or any weapon;
(2) the arrested person’s refusal to perform any act required by lawful order:
(a) necessary to effect the arrest or detention; and
(b) made by a peace officer involved in the arrest or detention; or

(3) the arrested person’s or another person’s refusal to refrain from performing any act that would impede the arrest or detention.”

Lawful is irrelevant

Interfering with an arrest

Photo by: Stever Baker

Although the above section states that no one should interfere with a lawful arrest, the world lawful is irrelevant as courts often look at statute’s plain language. For this reason, whether or not an arrest is lawful shouldn’t cause a person to decide that they have the right to get in the middle of police business. According to the State [of Washington] v. Holeman, “The determination of whether an arrest is lawful is often difficult and should not be left to bystanders who may have only a limited knowledge of the relevant law and who may let their emotions control their judgment.”

Acting within the scope of their authority

When it comes to making an arrest, officers are expected only to think they are making a lawful arrest. In the case of American Fork v. Pena-Flores, Nov 16 2000, it states: “Although police must have reasonable suspicion in order to make a legal detention, the use of “lawful” in section 76-8-305 does not automatically incorporate this standard in determining whether a person is guilty of interfering with a peace officer. So long as a police officer is acting within the scope of his or her authority and the detention or arrest has the indicia of being lawful, a person can be guilty of interfering with a peace officer even when the arrest or detention is later determined to be unlawful.”

Know the law

Regardless of what Utah residents feel toward law enforcement, they are not entitled to stop an officer from doing their job. Interfering with an arrest, whether or not it turns out to be lawful, will usually end badly for those trying to rid the world of injustice, one arrest at a time. If someone feels a person was detained unlawfully without reasonable suspicion or if they witnessed extreme use of force by police or a complete disregard for the detainee’s constitutional rights, it is best to file a complaint with the arresting officer’s supervisor. For those who overstepped their place and are facing charges for interfering with an arrest, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Sixth Amendment Rights Regarding Criminal Proceedings

The Sixth Amendment entitles defendants to specific rights regarding criminal proceedings which they should be privy to prior to their court hearings.

Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Sixth Amendment

Photo by: Phil Roeder

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution is a segment of the Bill of Rights which was presented into the Constitution in 1789 and reads: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” The Sixth Amendment gives protection to defendants during criminal proceedings and should be understood completely to ensure the rights of the accused are not being violated.

Speedy and public trial

Speedy. Criminal proceedings can often take days and even weeks to conclude; however defendants should not spend an excess amount of time incarcerated prior to these proceedings, especially if they have not been released on bail. This also makes sure the availability of any witnesses for the defense or prosecution.

Public. Defendants have the right to a public trial; No criminal proceedings should be done in secret. This not only protects the defendant from hidden corruption within the system, it allows the public including family and friends of the defendant to observe the trial and observe that it is carried out justly. This likewise permits the media to be present and report on the case as it transpires. The defendant may waive this right if desired or access to the proceedings may be limited by the courts to guard a defendant’s right to a fair trial or to protect a witness from coercion.

Impartial jury

Photo by: J

Photo by: J

All defendants have the right to an impartial jury. This is ensured through the jury selection process. Jury selection is first done randomly from a pool of registered voters in the area. After the original jury pool, the defense and prosecution are able to question possible jury members at which point they have the opportunity to object to any person they feel would not be able to be impartial to the case. Some scenarios in which a jury member would be challenged are: when they have a personal relationship or association with the accused; if they have biases or preconceptions for or against the defendant; if their opinion on the type of crime in question is unwavering; or just for the reason that either the prosecution or defense chooses not to have them on the jury.

Informed on charges

This may seem obvious, but the Sixth Amendments protects the rights of defendants to be informed on the charges that they are facing and “the nature and cause of the accusation”. If a defendant is unaware as to why they were arrested or facing trial, they would be less likely to prepare adequately for their defense.

Confrontation clause

Photo by: Khmer Rouge Tribunal (ECCC)

Photo by: Khmer Rouge Tribunal (ECCC)

The confrontation clause protects the defendant’s right to confront those accusing them of a crime. This allows the accused the opportunity to face and cross examine the witnesses who are making allegations, giving the defendant ample opportunity to debate the accusations against them. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution gave even further rights to the defendant by ensuring that the confrontation clause would be applicable in federal AND state courts. There are some instances when confrontation is not permitted, such as when the witness is a child and their testimony is not recorded in court, but done prior to the proceedings.

Defense counsel and witnesses

The final rights stated in the Sixth Amendment ensure that the accused has the right to obtain witnesses who are “in his favor” as well as an attorney to defend him/her. The compulsory process clause allows the accused the right to have witnesses speak on their behalf to aid in attesting to their innocence or poke holes in the case. These defense witnesses may even be issued a subpoena, ordering them to appear in court. Regarding defense counsel, if the accused is in good mental health they may waive their right to counsel if they choose. All defendants however are allowed to seek a reliable defense attorney of their choosing or have an attorney appointed to them by the court. It is recommended for anyone facing charges to always seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney to guarantee that no constitutional rights are violated and that all the protections of the law are provided.

Street Cameras and License Plate Scanners – Is Public Surveillance an Invasion of Privacy?

When driving down the street, any individual with or without a criminal history is being watched through public surveillance technology including street cameras and license plate scanners; a constant and troubling invasion of privacy.

Street cameras

License Plate Scanners

Photo by: Mike_fleming

To temporarily escape the government’s known watchful eye over the internet, many will close down their personal computers and put away their phones only to again be under constant observation the second they step outside their home. Cameras placed on streetlights, ATMS, and the exterior of buildings such as gas stations and grocery stores keeps tabs on anything happening along public streets. Public surveillance is said to be beneficial for crime prevention and investigation purposes, but for the millions of innocent people who pass by these cameras on a daily basis, it can seem like Big Brother is always watching.

License plate scanners

If an individual is able to avoid the abundance of cameras placed throughout U.S. cities, their vehicle is still under surveillance. License plate scanners, otherwise known as automatic number plate recognition technology can be placed in stationary locations throughout town such as on street lights, toll gates, and freeway overpasses or be attached to the bumper or roof of law enforcement vehicles for surveillance in motion. Unlike video surveillance, license plate scanners link a license plate to a person’s personal information. License plate scanners are used by law enforcement to track a person’s whereabouts and determine if that individual is a person of criminal interest. If that individual’s movements deem them worthy of being scrutinized, their name and vehicle information is added to a “hot list”, and the license plate scanners will alert authorities of that individual’s location at any given time.

Problems with public surveillance

Although public surveillance may have started as a way to prevent crime and protect citizens, now it appears to be nothing more than a constant invasion of privacy. Originally, license plate scanners were few and far between, with scanners at certain high profile areas around cities. Now, those scanners can be found everywhere – always watching, always recording. Law abiding citizens who are not committing crimes are still being observed and monitored on a daily basis, with their entire lives on display and recorded to databases! Days, weeks, months, and even years of an individual’s movements are collected regardless of any criminal history. Law enforcement may know more about an individual by their habits and routines that their own family does.

Stalking escalated

Photo by: hunnnterrr

Photo by: hunnnterrr

Public surveillance by law enforcement is disturbing enough already, imagine if that information got into the wrong hands! At what point will this surveillance of the public become available to the public? For a price, people can already research each other online. For $49.99, all “public records” can be compiled and delivered to anyone, complete with a person’s address, phone numbers, email address, and even any photographs posted online. Imagine if the information obtained through cameras and license place scanners likewise became available to everyone as public record. Public surveillance through cameras and license plate scanners could show that someone picks their young child up from school at 3:00pm daily; grocery shops on Wednesdays mornings; and leaves their children at the sitter while they attend a pottery class at the college on Friday evening. Not only would privacy be moot, this could open doors for an abundance of alarming situations.

Keep public privacy intact

No one should have their personal lives tracked, not even by the police. If a person has committed a heinous crime, then the description of their vehicle along with the license plate number should be given to authorities to be used as needed. For all law abiding citizens, and even those with forgotten parking tickets, they should have the right to privacy until law enforcement is given a reason to investigate them.