Felony Child Endangerment for Drugs in Reach of Children

Two individuals from American Fork Utah are facing a variety of drug charges along with felony child endangerment for storing drugs within the reach of children in the home.

Other people’s children

Child Endangerment

Photo by: Mary T Moore

25 year old Zachery Walters and 24 year old Hilary Lay were staying in the basement portion of a home that belonged to another person when they were arrested for possessing hefty amounts of cocaine and marijuana. The quantity of the drugs confiscated was large enough to bring distribution charges. While the couple knowingly possessed illegal drugs, they likely failed to realize they would also be facing additional felony charges for child endangerment since the landlord’s children had bedrooms nearby; thus potentially putting the kids at risk of coming into contact with the drugs.

3rd degree felony child endangerment

Child endangerment is a 3rd degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000. Utah Code 76-5-112.5 states regarding endangerment of a child that “a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if the person knowingly or intentionally causes or permits a child or a vulnerable adult to be exposed to, inhale, ingest, or have contact with a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia;”

A technicality

While there are no reports or evidence that any children in the home that Walters and Lay were staying in had come in contact with drugs, section 112.5 clarifies that “exposed to” can mean that because of the where the children were in proximity to the drugs, they could have potentially possessed, seen, or even smelled the illegal drugs or paraphernalia. Although Walters and Lay will likely face some drug charges, there are other charges which could be considered questionable such as distribution and child endangerment. An experienced criminal defense attorney is always suggested but would be greatly recommended in a case such as this.

Utah Ex-Con Charged with Gruesome Murder in Washington

An ex-con who had served time in a Utah State Prison was charged with the gruesome murder of a Washington State woman last Monday.

Murder and dismemberment

murder

Photo by: tdlucas5000

37 year old John Robert Charlton was charged with the murder of Ingrid Lyne of Renton, Washington after police discovered portions of the woman’s dismembered body in a recycle bin in Seattle. The 40 year old nurse and mother of three daughters had been on a date with Charlton to a Mariner’s baseball game over the weekend but hadn’t been heard of since. When police located the body parts including a head and then received information of the missing woman, they realized the cases were connected and arrested Charlton for murder. More of Lyne’s body parts were then located as well as a saw which was believed to be the tool used to dismember her body.

Was the murder preventable?

When a horrible act is committed, many people may wonder if there was any way the crime could have been prevented. Sometimes crimes catch everyone by surprise, even those closest to the accused. Regarding the murder of Ingrid Lyne however, there are various details in John Charlton’s past that may have been red flags. While these warnings were regrettably not known to Lyne, they might have been recognized by law enforcement and those who have had their own personal dealings with Charlton.

Criminal history

Photo by: Victor

Photo by: Victor

The murder of Ingrid Lyne wasn’t Charlton’s first run in with the law. Prior to Lyne’s murder, in Washington State Charlton had been charged with assault in 1997 and negligent driving in 1998. In 2006, Charlton was convicted and sentenced to 1 to 15 years in the Utah State Prison for felony attempted aggravated robbery. Of that sentence, Charlton served just shy of 2 years before he was released by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole without the supervision of parole officer. Some claim this lack of supervision may have contributed to him being arrested again in 2009 for misdemeanor battery in Idaho and then felony theft in Montana the same year. In Montana he again served time in prison; this time no more than 5 years. There is no information available at this time regarding whether or not Charlton was under the supervision of a Montana parole officer; however some critics of the parole system are doubtful.

Mental uncertainty

Charlton not only had a history of crime, but he also showed signs of being mentally unstable and possibly dangerous as long as 10 years ago. Prior to his arrest in Utah in 2006, Charlton made unsettling threats to his parents at their home south of Seattle. He showed them a copy of the gruesome movie “Hannibal” and eerily cautioned his mom while referencing to it. He also told his parents that he was having a hard time dealing with life and he was questioning his mental stability. Charlton’s parents were so troubled by this encounter with their son that they went as far as to file a restraining order against him although they later dropped it.

Help for the troubled

Photo by: trizoultro

Photo by: trizoultro

While the thought is plausible, it will never be known for sure if the murder of Ingrid Lyne could have been prevented. While many friends or family members may be surprised when someone close to them commits a heinous act, this is one case when there was a growing concern long before multiple lives were changed forever. For those who are in and out of the court systems for various crimes or for those who have anger management issues, alcohol and drug abuse problems, or other mental health concerns, there is help available. Please seek counsel with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney regarding criminal charges and they can also provide you with information regarding mental health services in your area.

Utah Court of Appeals rules against Utah Escort Ms. Lawless (and yes, her real last name is “Lawless”)

A Utah female escort, Micaela Beth Lawless (yes, last name “Lawless”), lost her appeal before the Utah Court of Appeals  due to not specifying which law she believed was unconstitutional and led to her arrest.

Utah cities targeting sexually oriented businesses

Escort

Photo by: Dennis Skley

In the late 1980’s, major cities in Utah started targeting sexually oriented businesses such as escort services and adult book and video stores. In an effort to reduce prostitution and preserve a clean-cut curb appeal, Utah cities began making it more difficult for sexually oriented businesses to operate, by requiring all employees of the establishment to have a license for that specific type of business and restricting those business a certain distance away from schools, parks, and churches. Those restrictions along with the cost of licensing each employee and the extended waiting period for licenses to be granted, most sexually oriented businesses have a difficult time remaining operational while staying within the laws of the city and state.

State of Utah permitting cities to target escort services

Utah Code 10-8-41.5 permits each individual city to require a license for sexually oriented work such as an escort service. That section reads “A person employed in a sexually oriented business may not work in a municipality:
(a) if the municipality requires that a person employed in a sexually oriented business be licensed individually; and
(b) if the person is not licensed by the municipality.”
The state of Utah and all cities requiring licenses for sexually oriented work are treading a fine line on being unconstitutional. Beyond that, some methods of enforcing said licenses are also questionable.

Entrapment

Micaela Beth Lawless, a lawfully licensed escort in Midvale, Utah was arrested for performing her business in the neighboring city of Sandy Utah where she was not permitted to do so without the required Sexually Oriented Business License for that specific city. Lawless did not openly seek clients outside the city she was licensed in, however she was contacted by an undercover officer and asked to meet in nearby Sandy which borders the city of Midvale to the south and east. Fulfilling the request of a potential client, Lawless drove the minimal distance to a hotel within Sandy city limits where she was apprehended by awaiting law enforcement and charged with practicing a Sexually Oriented Business without a Sandy City license.

Violation of Constitutional rights

Photo by: aaron_anderer

Photo by: aaron_anderer

Lawless originally disputed her charges during a hearing that took place at the Sandy City Judicial Court. She claimed that her first and fourteenth amendment rights had been violated. These amendments are what safeguard each citizen’s freedom of speech and expression; however one feels to express themselves. Additionally the Equal Protection Clause found in the Fourteenth Amendment extends from the federal government to state governments the protection of citizens against discrimination.

 

State or City-Not one in the same

Although Lawless originally argued the unconstitutionality of the state statues listed in Utah Code 10-8-41.5, she then reformed her debate and specified that the Sandy City law governing sexually oriented business licenses is what she found unconstitutional. Her motion to dismiss was denied and she was convicted of the charges. Lawless then appealed her case in the West Jordan Utah Third District Court where she again argued the state statues (that protect the city statues of the same nature) violated her constitutional rights. Unfortunately, because she changed her case with the Sandy Judicial Court to specify the city law versus the state law, her motion to appeal based on the unconstitutionality of the state law was not granted.

“Lack of preservation”

Photo by: Joe Gratz

Photo by: Joe Gratz

In the case of Sandy City v. Lawless, it states: “In the district court, Defendant abandoned her arguments regarding the state statute. On appeal, Defendant attempts to raise her previously abandoned arguments regarding the state statute; she does not brief the question of the Sandy ordinance’s constitutionality. We thus are not in a position to review the issues raised. We therefore affirm.” When debating charges or appealing a conviction, it is imperative that topics do not get muddled along the way; An experienced criminal defense attorney will ensure that vital information is organized and discussed thus not losing opportunities in the court system.