Burglary and Robbery

When a thief breaks into a home and the resident is there, the burglary may turn into robbery instead.  Burglary and robbery are often used interchangeably and although they are both property crimes, the two are different according to Utah state law.

Photo by: Tim Samoff

Photo by: Tim Samoff

Burglary defined

Utah code 76-6-202 states that “An actor is guilty of burglary who enters or remains unlawfully in a building or any portion of a building with intent to commit: a felony, theft, […]”. Someone can commit burglary by breaking into a house while the homeowners are away on vacation.  Burglary, or breaking and entering, doesn’t necessarily have to involve the victim themselves, just their home and their belongings.

Robbery in comparison

76-6-301 states “A person commits robbery if: the person […] takes or attempts to take person property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by means of force or fear […]”.  Therefore to be considered robbery, a victim must be present at the scene of the crime and feel threatened or forced to give up their belongs by the intruder.  Likewise, robbery doesn’t have to involve a dwelling or building whereas burglary does.

Penalties for burglary and robbery

76-6-202 defines burglary as a 3rd degree felony “unless it was committed in a dwelling, in which event it is a second degree felony.” Robbery, whether it takes place in a dwelling or in public is always a 2nd degree felony as it involves another person directly.  If convicted, burglary and robbery charges can bring lengthy prison time.  Many criminals with a history of theft don’t fully understand the ramifications when they directly involve the victim or intrude on someone’s home. For anyone facing burglary and/or robbery charges, communicate with a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Wasatch Front Prostitution Ring

Changfeng Lin, the organizer behind the large Wasatch Front prostitution ring busted last month failed to show up in court Tuesday. Changfeng Lin was arrested in early June 2015 for establishing and managing a prostitution ring which was being run at eight massage parlors owned by Lin throughout the Wasatch Front. The illegal business exploited at least 9 women of Chinese descent, including Lin’s own wife.

Photo by: Weber County Jail

Photo by: Weber County Jail

Investigation and arrest

Lin’s massage parlors were advertised with online sites which are known for listing  “happy endings” massage companies. This ad seeking both patrons and workers was a red flag for Utah authorities to keep an eye on Lin. Thus began the ten month investigation of his business endeavors in the Wasatch Front. During the investigation, Lin was seen traveling between the different massage parlors and residences multiple times a day, transporting female passengers from one place to another. Business licenses for each parlor were checked, female workers at the massage parlors were interview, and Lin was later arrested.

Prostitution a statewide problem

Lin’s prostitution ring was not the only illegal business of its kind in Utah. Over the last several years, prostitution has become a growing problem all over the state. There are areas that are known for street prostitution such as North Temple and State Street in Salt Lake City; however online sex solicitation and the use of business or home massage parlors as cover ups for brothels can be anywhere.

Photo by: Pedro Figueiredo

Photo by: Pedro Figueiredo

Prostitution crimes and punishments

Unlike Nevada, there are no areas in Utah where prostitution is legal. The charges and penalties for being involved depend on the suspect’s role in the prostitution ring.

Prostitution. Utah Code 76-10-1302 states “An individual is guilty of prostitution when the individual: engages in any sexual activity with another individual for a fee […]” Prostitution is considered a class B misdemeanor unless is it a repeat conviction, then it’s a class A misdemeanor.

Patronizing a prostitute. 76-10-1303, “A person is guilty of patronizing a prostitute when the person: pays or offers or agrees to pay another person a fee […] for the purpose of engaging in an act of sexual activity […]” Patronizing a prostitute is a class B misdemeanor for a first offense, and a class A misdemeanor for repeat offenses. If the person being patronized is a child, it is a 3rd degree felony.

Aiding a prostitute. Otherwise known as pimping, aiding a prostitute has the same penalties as prostitution and patronizing a prostitute: A class B misdemeanor for first offense and class A misdemeanor for any recurrent offenses.

Exploiting prostitution is a 3rd degree felony and those found guilty of this offense are the ones running prostitution businesses such as Changfeng Lin with his 8 massage parlors.

Aggravated exploitation of prostitution. Stated by Utah Code 76-10-1305, exploiting prostitution becomes an aggravated charge if the person threatens or forces someone to prostitute, or if the prostitute is a child or a spouse. This crime is a 2nd degree felony or a 1st degree felony if a child is involved. Because Lin involved his wife with his illegal business, he is facing aggravated exploitation of prostitution charges.

Photo by: Gabriel S. Delgado C.

Photo by: Gabriel S. Delgado C.

Hopeless with limited options

Why do many choose prostitution as a career choice? For those such as Lin who are running the show, money is usually a big motivator. For those performing the acts, is it their need for physical interaction or the thrill of breaking the law? While there may be a few that choose this path for those reasons, many turn to prostitution because they don’t know what else to do. Perhaps they lack the education or skills needed to get a regular job. Possibly they were victims of sex trafficking at an early age and don’t know a way out.

Support and legal counsel

There are community and online resources available to help those trying to leave the life of prostitution. For those who are facing charges related to a prostitution ring, a criminal defense attorney can help you sift through the legal ramifications of your charges and help repair your criminal record and your life after prostitution.

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.