Employment Consequences Following an Arrest in Utah

Having a felony criminal record can have devastating consequences for Utah residents when it comes to finding housing and work, however even a minor arrest can result in undesirable consequences to one’s employment.

An arrest is public record

Employment After Arrest

Photo by: Dylan

When an arrest takes place, that information can instantly become public knowledge. The arrestee’s information along with facts related to the crime may be logged on a bookings page with the county sheriff or a small blurb may be written in the incident section of the local newspaper. Often this embarrassing publicity can go undetected by employers or coworkers of the person arrested. If it is noticed, which is often the result of increased coverage by the media for being a “bigger story”, it can quickly spread around the office, making the workplace unwelcoming for the defendant.

Returning to work

Returning to a place of employment following a night or two in jail should not result in anything more than awkward sideways glances from coworkers. If the arrest occurs due to illegal behavior at work however, the accused will likely be put on temporary administrative leave before being permanently terminated if or when convicted. If the arrest takes place off the clock, in a setting not remotely connected to a person’s employment, an employer is usually discouraged from releasing an employee from his job. If not, they could be in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Know your employment rights

Photo by: aj victorio

Photo by: aj victorio

For individuals who were recently arrested and are worried about the effects it will have on their career, it is important to know first what rights employees in the State of Utah have. According to the Utah Labor Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity commission regarding Title VII, employees are protected from job related discrimination following an arrest. Aside from actual convictions, especially those including felonies, an arrest cannot be used as the basis of terminating employment. As the EEOC states, “The fact of an arrest does not establish that criminal conduct has occurred. Arrests are not proof of criminal conduct. Many arrests do not result in criminal charges, or the charges are dismissed. Even if an individual is charged and subsequently prosecuted, he is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.” The EEOC adds however, that “although an arrest record standing alone may not be used to deny an employment opportunity, an employer may make an employment decision based on the conduct underlying the arrest if the conduct makes the individual unfit for the position in question. The conduct, not the arrest, is relevant for employment purposes.”

When an arrest is still used against an employee

Just because an employer cannot safely fire one of their employees based on an arrest, it doesn’t mean they won’t find other ways to punish the arrested employee. In fact, if an employer is unhappy about the arrest of their employee, and they were previously lenient about certain rules and codes of conduct related to the job description, they may increase enforcement of those rules without as much risk of retaliation from the employee. This may be the employer’s way of trying to encourage the arrestee to quit, by ensuring the workplace isn’t as enjoyable as before. Although an employee can attempt to press charges or wait for the ill feelings to eventually dissipate, some take the easier way out by finding another job where their dirty laundry isn’t known by all.

Protect your record, protect your employment

Photo by: kate hiscock

Photo by: kate hiscock

Most employers in Utah are kind and understanding following an arrest. This is particularly true if the defendant is eventually found to be innocent of all charges. The ideal way to protect your employment following an arrest is to protect your record. With any arrest, contact a criminal defense attorney to give you a better chance of walking away with a clean record and job security.

Constitutional Rights against Unreasonable Searches Not Maintained in Cases of Mistaken Identity

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens’ Constitutional Rights against unreasonable searches, however these rights are not maintained in cases of mistaken identity.

Mistaken Identity

Photo by: Ben Tesch

Photo by: Ben Tesch

Mistakes are known to happen, and sometimes when those blunders are made by law enforcement it can result in the wrong person being arrested. One of the areas where law enforcement has been known to slip-up occasionally is with mistaken identity. Police can often confuse an innocent person with a suspect due to issues such as address typos, similar names, or matching physical description. When this occurs, it can have prolonged emotional and even criminal repercussions.

Wrong man

When cases of mistaken identity are seen as the blunders by law enforcement that they are, those officers involved may end up temporarily or permanently removed from their position in the police department. They may also face civil lawsuits brought out by those they wrongly identified. Last year an Indiana man named DeShawn Franklin was awarded a whopping $18 settlement for a case of mistaken identity that took place four years prior. During the incident in question, officers entered the home Franklin lived in with his parents and went into the high school senior’s room where he lay asleep in his bed. After the startled teenager struggled due to the frightening scene, officers then punched him several times and hit him with a Taser gun before hauling him off to jail.

Mistaken Identity

Photo by: Lil Treyco

It turned out that Franklin, who matched the police’s description of a slender African-American man with dreadlocks, was not the person authorities were looking for. The man officers were searching for was Franklin’s older brother who wasn’t present at the time.

Arrested anyway

Sometimes an arrest based on mistaken identity doesn’t end with such profitable settlements and can still result in charges for the person arrested. This can happen if the person wrongfully detained ends up having warrants, being wanted for other crimes, or if illegal contraband is found in their possession during a search. This was the case for a Utah man named Wendell Navanick, who just so happened to share a name and birth year with another Utah man who had an outstanding warrant out for his arrest. When authorities located the warrantless Wendell Navanick, they ignored the man’s statement of being the wrong guy and booked him into the Salt Lake City Jail. During the booking procedure, authorities found drugs on Navanick and charged him with possession of a controlled substance. Although it was quickly discovered that authorities had not arrested the right person, Navanick was still charged with possession related to the drugs that were found on him during the booking process.

Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. “ The United States Courts adds however, that the Fourth Amendment “is not a guarantee against all searches and seizures, but only those that are deemed unreasonable under the law.”

Unreasonable search loophole

Photo by: West Midlands Police

Photo by: West Midlands Police

When a victim of mistaken identity ends up with charges related to a search of their person or property because they were believed to be someone else, that search is not considered unconstitutional by law. In the case of the State of Utah v. Navanick, the defendant tried to claim his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated with the bookings search since it was “predicated upon an invalid arrest” however that claim for an appeal was shot down. The arrest was validated since the officers were found to have probable cause. “The only question is whether it was reasonable for the arresting officers to believe that the person arrested was the one sought.” (Gero v. Hanault). Anyone who is facing criminal charges related to a mistaken identity search is strongly urged to consult with a criminal defense attorney to ensure that all Constitutional Rights during criminal proceedings are protected.

Utah Police Find Five Pounds of Marijuana Candy after Responding to a Reported Theft

Police officers in Vineyard, Utah were responding to a report of a theft and ended up finding five pounds of marijuana candy instead.

Think before you call

Marijuana Candy

Photo by: Jorge Romero

20 year old Taylor Sauers of Vineyard, Utah called police to file a report regarding a theft of a handgun, cash, and other valuables from his apartment. When police arrived at the residence, they noted an obvious marijuana odor coming from inside. The smell of marijuana was considered enough probable cause for a search warrant, and when officers returned to search the property, they located nearly five pounds of marijuana candy in the form of gummy bears.

Second degree intent to distribute marijuana candy

Sauers is facing a second degree felony for intent to distribute the marijuana candy, along with two class B misdemeanor charges related to possession and paraphernalia. No information was released regarding the stolen goods, however the large lump sum of money missing is assumed to be drug money and Sauers will not be able to own the handgun anyway if his felony charge sticks. The young adult is likely regretting his call to police, which turned out worse for him that it did for the thief.

One to 15 years

Photo by: houstondwiPhotos mp

Photo by: houstondwiPhotos mp

A second degree felony in the state of Utah carries a possible prison term of one to 15 years in prison as well as a $10,000 fine. Each class B misdemeanor may tack on an additional $1,000 and six month behind bars if sentences run consecutively. With 15 plus years on the line, Sauers and anyone else charged with intent to distribute marijuana candy or any other illegal drugs are encouraged to seek legal counsel.