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Utah Criminal Defense Law Blog

The Controlled Substances Act and drug charges

Many Utah residents likely understand that it is illegal to use certain types of substances. The use of illegal drugs, for example, is not permitted under any circumstances. Prescription drug use is also highly regulated and can lead to criminal charges for drug crimes when abused. These rules are likely in place because of a federal regulation called the Controlled Substances Act.

The Controlled Substances Act was created in 1970 as a way to consolidate a series of complicated drug laws in the United States. Prior to this law, more than 200 laws were in effect that made it difficult for states' and law enforcement officials to enforce drug laws.

Focus on DUI charges with our help

When people think of driving under the influence, they likely think about driving after having too much alcohol to drink. The image of an irresponsible adult leaving a bar or party may come to mind. However, DUIs are often more complicated than that. Sometimes, people have taken prescription medication and end up facing charges. Or, even some over-the-counter medications can cause issues. Suddenly, these individuals face very serious penalties without even realizing what they have done wrong.

In Utah, if a person is intoxicated it doesn't matter if the person had taken illegal drugs, used alcohol or was taking prescription drugs -- the penalties are the same. This can come as a huge shock to those facing charges for prescription drug use. These people can be good law abiding citizens that never intended to harm anyone or put others at risk.

Halloween patrols lead to extra DUI charges

For many Halloween is known for costumes and trick-or-treating. However, for law enforcement it is known as a popular time to catch people driving under the influence. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more people are killed by drunk drivers on Halloween than on New Year's Eve. In fact, three times as many fatal accidents occur. These number increase, says the NHTSA, when Halloween is on a weekend night -- like it was this year.

Law enforcement officials in Utah are aware of these statistics and recently took to the streets to arrest suspected drunken drivers. According to reports, 160 extra troopers from the Utah Highway Patrol were on the streets on Halloween. These troopers made many arrests and those individuals are now facing drunk driving charges.

How long is a person on the sex offender registry in Utah?

Those accused of sex crimes in Utah may be worried about the sex offender registry. The sex offender registry requires those convicted of certain sex crimes to register themselves. This registry contains information about the person and the person's criminal history and releases that information to the public.

Additionally, those on the registry have restricted freedom. If you are on Utah's sex offender registry, then you can live, work or socialize. In particular, if you have been convicted of a sex crime against a child, you are not allowed to visit a park or playground that is open to the public, any primary or secondary school, preschools or daycares or public swimming pools. There are also certain requirements about how often you must update information on the registry.

Factors that contribute to aggravated murder in Utah

People may not realize just how important criminal classifications are. People may think all felonies are treated alike, or that misdemeanors are all the same. However, the specific charges can make a really big difference when it comes to penalties. In Utah, the most serious penalty a person can be sentenced to is the death penalty. The death penalty is an available option for prosecutors to pursue if a person is charged with aggravated murder.

Under section 46-5-202 of the Utah criminal code, a person can be charged with aggravated murder in a number of circumstances. If a death occurs and these other circumstances are present, the person could also face the death penalty. These circumstances include various sexual crimes including rape, forcible sexual abuse, forcible sodomy or object rape. A murder that occurs during the commission of other crimes including arson, robbery, kidnapping or burglary is also considered aggravated murder.

Juvenile arrested in Utah murder case

Criminal charges have the potential to change a person's life forever. This is particularly true when the charges are felonies. If the accused is a young person, the affects can be even greater since they have so much of their life ahead of them.

A 17-year-old boy was recently arrested in connection with a murder in Utah. According to reports, the teenager was arrested while at school in another state. Prosecutors claim that he was connected with the death of a 15-year-old girl. The girl's body was found near Draper, Utah in a river in March 2012. She had been badly beaten and died of apparent blunt force trauma to the head.

Marijuana possession can be a big deal

Many people don't see marijuana use as all that big of a problem. Many people just consider it to be a harmless recreational drug. However, despite the social acceptance of the drug, it is still illegal under the Utah and federal criminal codes. Therefore, people can face serious penalties for marijuana possession.

In fact, people can face charges for drug possession in a variety of situations. In other words, people don't just have to be caught using the drug to be convicted on these types of drug charges. Police have charged people after finding trace amounts of marijuana in a bag, for example. Or, people can face criminal charges if police find them with a friend's marijuana. In many cases, police aren't looking at intent, just possession. In some cases, police will intentionally bring higher charges -- such as possession with intent to sell -- in order to get people to plead guilty to lesser charges.

What are the penalties for federal marijuana trafficking charges?

While views on marijuana use have changed across the country, the federal government has not relaxed its stance on the drug. While many states have chosen to decriminalize marijuana use and possession, the sale of marijuana is often treated harshly no matter where you are. The same is true in federal court. Utah residents may wonder what penalties they could face if accused of trafficking marijuana in federal court.

Like in most drug trafficking cases, you can face serious penalties for being convicted of trafficking marijuana in federal courts. The specific penalties will depend on the amount of the drug that you are found with. Furthermore, it can depend on whether if people were placed in bodily harm, whether you are charges as an individual or part of a larger entity and whether this is your first offense.

Specific locations enhance drug charges

A recent blog post covered a story about a man who was arrested on enhanced drug charges. In that case, the man charges were enhanced after he was arrested for drug possession at his home located near a church. Like in this case, in Utah, there are several reasons why drug charges could be enhanced.

Under section 58-37-8(4)(a) of the Utah code, certain locations can results in enhanced penalties if a person is caught using or possessing drugs in this in these areas. In these cases, people automatically face increased penalties if convicted. Under this statute, these locations include playgrounds, parks, schools, arcades, childcare facilities and other places where children are likely present. The statute also includes houses of worship, shopping malls, theaters, stadiums and other recreational facilities. This section also increases penalties for drug possession or use on the parking lots adjacent to these facilities.

Utah man faces enhanced drug possession charges

There are a variety of factors that can enhance drug charges in Utah. Not all drug possession charges are created equal. Therefore, it is important that people facing charges for drug crimes understand the specific charges that they are facing so that they can properly fight the charges. Some factors that can enhance drug charges were present in a recent case.

In this case, a 35-year-old man was arrested when his parole officer showed up at his residence to check-in. According to the officer, the man arrived home and took an unusual path outside the home. Therefore, the officer went to look in the area the man walked. The officer alleges that he found a glass pipe on the ground on the path. The glass pipe apparently had a burnt end and white residue inside.

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