Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney - Clayton Simms

new_clayton_about A criminal charge, whether it is a felony or misdemeanor, can be a life changing event. Clayton Simms is a fierce advocate for people who have been charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses. He represents clients who are facing charges in Salt Lake City and Greater Salt Lake County. In addition, he also represents clients along the Wasatch front. Clayton Simms represents defendants in other crimes Clayton has represented athletes, doctors, lawyers, and other notable people and has been featured on the news. Do you have a legal question? Contact Clayton Simms today!

Southern Utah Man Turns Himself In For Sexual Crimes Against Children

A southern Utah man has been sentenced for his sexual crimes against children after he turned himself him nearly two years ago.

Years of guilt

Hartwig HKD

In October of 2018, Aaron Carthal Schafer of St. George Utah came forward to police to admit he had committed sexual crimes against children. At the time, it does not appear Schafer was a suspect or even remotely on law enforcement’s rader. The reason he came forward was due to years of guilt and a desire to be held accountable for his actions so he could receive the mental help he needed.

Sexual crimes against children

Schafer, who is the father of five children according to social media posts by family members was sentenced this month to multiple sexual crimes against children. He was originally charged with three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and one count of sodomy of a child but the later charged was dropped as he pled guilty to the other three charges.

Sexual abuse of a child

Schafer was sentenced for three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. According to Utah Code 76-5-404.1, “An individual commits sexual abuse of a child if, under circumstances not amounting to rape of a child, object rape of a child, sodomy on a child, or an attempt to commit any of these offenses, the actor touches the anus, buttocks, pubic area, or genitalia of any child, the breast of a female child, or otherwise takes indecent liberties with a child, with intent to cause substantial emotional or bodily pain to any individual or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any individual regardless of the sex of any participant.”

Enhanced aggravated charges

Photo by: Connor Tarter

That section goes on to note that “An individual commits aggravated sexual abuse of a child when . . . any of the following circumstances have been charged and admitted or found true in the action for the offense [along with the above]:
The offense was committed by the use of a dangerous weapon . . . or by force, duress, violence, intimidation, coercion, menace, or threat of harm, or was committed during the course of a kidnapping;

  1. The accused caused bodily injury or severe psychological injury to the victim during or as a result of the offense;
  2. The accused was a stranger to the victim or made friends with the victim for the purpose of committing the offense;
  3. The accused used, showed, or displayed pornography or cause the victim to be photographed in a lewd condition during the course of the offense;
  4. The accused . . . was previously convicted of any sexual offense;
  5. The accused committed the same or similar sexual act upon two or more victims at the same time or during the same course of conduct;
  6. The accused committed . . . more than five separate acts . . . at the same time, or during the same course of conduct, or before or after the instant offense;
  7. The offense was committed by an individual who occupied a position of special trust in relation to the victim;
  8. The accused encouraged, aided, allowed, or benefited from acts of prostitution or sexual acts by the victim with any other individual, or sexual performance by the victim before any other individual, human trafficking, or human smuggling; or
  9. The accused cause the penetration, however slight, or the genital or anal opening of the child by any part or parts of the human body other than the genitals or mouth.”

Public documents do not state who the victims are, however they do note that Schafer abused at least one of the children while showering with them which may indicate it was one of his children. If this is true, this could mean Schaffer was a parent of the victim, or a subsection ‘h’ states “. . .a person of special trust in relation to the victim”. It is unknown exactly which subsection applies specifically to Schafer’s case or if more than one is applicable.

At least 6 years behind bars

While sexual abuse of a child is a second degree felony, punishable by one to 15 years in prison, aggravated sexual abuse is a first degree felony punishable by six years to as long as life in prison. The shorter sentence of six to ten years is applicable as long as the victim did not suffer any serious bodily injuries and the accused is not guilty of any previous“grievous sexual offense. Schafer was sentenced to six years with at least nine months served. While the judge was appalled at his behavior toward the young children, he did credit him with his honestly in coming forward on his own.

Catch and Release – Utah Man Arrested Twice in One Day for Burglary of a Vehicle

A man was arrested in Hurricane, Utah Friday afternoon for burglary of a vehicle, then arrested again three hours later – twice in one day.

Early morning crime spree

Photo by: Ecin Krispie

Multiple incidents of vehicle burglary were reported to police early Friday morning in Hurricane, Utah. 26 year old Tyjobe Sierra McCrone was discovered to be the person responsible for the break-ins and he was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane around 12:30pm. At 3:30pm, a mere three hours later, McCrone was booked again after burglarizing vehicles in the same neighborhood. This time a resident caught McCrone red-handed and police were quickly on scene to apprehend him. Between the two bookings, McCrone is facing multiple charges of theft as well as several counts of burglary of a vehicle.

Burglary of a vehicle

Utah Code 76-6-204 states “Any person who unlawfully enters any vehicle with intent to commit a felony or theft is guilty of burglary of a vehicle . . .[which is] a class A misdemeanor. “ A class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine as high as $2,500. McCrone is facing ten separate charges of burglary of a vehicle.
Plus theft
Burglary of a vehicle charges are only for the person obtaining illegal entry into someone’s else’s property. When something is taken, then additional charges of theft accrue.McCrone is facing ten counts of theft of an item under $500, along with ten counts of burglary of a vehicle, each a class B misdemeanor.

Unfair accumulation

According to a report by the Hurricane Police Department, McCrone was suspected of going in around six different vehicles, yet was charged with ten counts of burglary of a vehicle. Not only did he not go in as many vehicles as reported, he did no damage as each vehicle was left unlocked. While it may seem minor when he is already facing numerous charges, an unfair accumulation of charges does not go unnoticed by the individual punished for the crimes. Anyone facing fines and incarceration when duplicates or unfair additional charges arise should consult immediately with a criminal defense attorney.

First Amendment Freedom of Profanity and Accompanying “Gestures” – Even Towards Police

The First Amendment protects a Utah residents rights to speak their opinions and frustrations, even by the use of profanity and accompanying gestures during dealings with police.

Photo by: John Nakamura Remy

First Amendment

The First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The phrase “freedom of speech” gets thrown around a lot, yet many citizens may wonder exactly how free they can be with their speech, especially when dealing with police.

Profanity

Many individuals would not want to participate in a verbal altercation with a police officer, yet some may blurt out profanity or obscenities before thinking of the possible consequences. Fortunately, freedom of speech protects a person’s right to use profanity, whether spoken or nonverbal like the use of the middle finger. When a Utah resident is dealing with police, there is a good chance that emotions will be running high.

Photo by: Ron Bennetts

Someone facing an arrest or feeling like they were the recipient of a biased traffic stop might have some choice words for attending officers. Perhaps they were able to bite their tongue but couldn’t help flipping the bird toward less than friendly police. Or maybe a person’s normal vocabulary is similar to that of a sailors and using obscenities is just how they communicate with everyone. Regardless of why someone would use profanity with police, it might make officers uncomfortable but it is protected free speech.

Don’t take it too far

While everyone should feel free enough to use whatever language they want or give the middle finger when they feel like it, there are times when profanities and other obscenities could cross the line. If someone uses their harsh language to try to get others to join in a fight against officers, that could be considered disorderly conduct or inciting a riot. Another example is if the foul language being used describes sexual behavior against children that most people would find offensive or disturbing. In these and like incidents, using profanity could end with criminal charges.

Spoken crimes

Photo by: Jennifer Moo

There are some words and phrases beyond profanities that are also not protected under the First Amendment. Some of these include:
Threats of violence – Utah Code 76-5-107 warns residents that verbally “[threatening] to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and [acting] with intent to place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, substantial bodily injury, or death” . . . is punishable as a class B misdemeanor.
Threats of terrorism – Utah Code 76-5-107.3 explains that “a person commits a threat of terrorism if the person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and: threatens the use of a [real or hoax] weapon of mass destruction . . . “ A verbal threat of that magnitude is a second degree felony.
Harassment – Harassing another person or as Utah Code 76-5-106 defines as “. . . with intent to frighten or harass another, [when the actor] communicates a written or recorded threat to commit any violent felony” is a class B misdemeanor.
Obstruction of Justice – According to Section 76-8-306, “An actor commits obstruction of justice if the actor, . . . inten[ds] to hinder, delay, or prevent the investigation, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person regarding conduct that constitutes a criminal offense”. A couple ways someone could use their words to obstruct justice is by warning a suspect of police activity or by providing false information to law enforcement. Obstruction of justice is charged one degree less than the crime for which the person is obstructing.

Use freedom of speech wisely

Not all talking points or usage of profanities are protected free speech, but the First Amendment can help those who have a tendency to run their mouth when talking to law enforcement. If someone is facing charges due to their use of profanity when dealing with police or if they crossed the legal line with their words, it is best to consult with a criminal defense attorney before attempting to play the free speech card.