A jury instruction can violate a defendant's due process rights when it receives prosecutors of their obligation to prove every essential element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
When reviewing appeals based on jury instructions, appeals courts determine whether a challenged jury instruction created a mandatory presumption or simply allowed a jury to draw a "permissive inference."
A Utah appeals court recently overturned the theft conviction of the Utah man, citing an erroneous jury instruction.
The defendant was Joseph Brandon Crowley, who was convicted of receiving stolen property and theft by deception. Investigators say that Crowley pawned an iPod which had been stolen from a car two weeks earlier.
Establishing a defendant's competency to stand trial is one of the foundational elements of a valid criminal conviction.
It is well established that Utah law requires that no person who is incompetent be tried for a public offense and that trying an incompetent person constitutes a due process violation.
One Utah man recently had his conviction overturned due to competency issues. The man is Mitchell Edward Wolf and he was convicted of stalking, making a terroristic threat and electronic communication harassment of his ex-partner.
Prosecutors have a wide latitude in making closing arguments.
Although name calling is not an admirable or officially condoned style of argument, appellate courts in Utah have been reluctant to find a prosecutor's name calling to be a ground for reversing a criminal conviction.
One Utah defendant recently attempted to have his conviction overturned on the basis of a prosecutor's unflattering analogy comparing him to a predator in a zoo. The case involves an inmate named Nathan Redcap who was charged with aggravated assault by a prisoner and the possession of items prohibited in a correctional facility.
A Utah appeals court recently ruled that a prosecutor's characterization of a defense counsel's argument as a "red herring" did not amount to prosecutorial misconduct.
Prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments occurs when a prosecutor's statements during a closing statement violate a defendant's rights by, for example, calling the jurors' attention to matters which they are not allowed to consider during deliberations.
The U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah recently announced that his office collected $2,321,772 in criminal fines last year.
U.S. Attorney David B. Barlow also said an additional $2,292,074 was collected in civil actions prosecuted by his office for a total of $4,613,846 for Fiscal Year 2013.
A 27-year-old Pleasant Grove recently pled guilty to automobile homicide in connection with a fatal pedestrian accident last fall.
Authorities accused Ramiro Hernandez of driving a SUV on a sidewalk and fatally hitting 22-year-old Ashlee Zimmer.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Hernandez pleaded guilty in Provo's 4th District Court on Friday. To a variety of charges including second-degree automobile homicide involving alcohol or drugs, hit-and-run involving death and failure to have a license, among other things.
A Utah appeals court recently overturned the conviction of a Wisconsin-based long-haul trucker.
The 32-year-old trucker was accused of a having oral sex with a 16-year-old girl when he was staying at her parents' house during a long haul.
The trucker was ultimately convicted of two counts of forcible sodomy, but an appeals court recently overturned this convictions based on irregularities in the trial.
The Legal Right to Effective Counsel
Ineffective assistance of counsel claims are based on a Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel in criminal proceedings. To support an ineffective assistance of counsel claim on appeal, a defendant has to prove that his or her lawyer's performance fell below an "objective standard of reasonableness."
The murder trial of a 27-year-old Burmese refugee continues today.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Esar Met is accused of raping and killing 7-year-old Hser Ner Moo back in 2008. The girl lived in the same South Salt Lake apartment complex as Esar Met.
Authorities say that the girl's murder occurred about a month after Esar Met moved to the U.S. and that he was acquainted with the family. Esar Met's attorney said that he loved children and hinted that someone else might be responsible for the murder.
Former Ben Lomond High School swim coach Jamie Jo Waite was recently denied a new trial in her sex abuse case.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the 37-year-old former volunteer coach's motion for a new trial was denied by 2nd District Judge Scott Hadley.
Judge Hadley said that none of the six issues that Waite raised were prejudicial enough to warrant a new trial.
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