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Utah Criminal Defense Law Blog

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.

What are the penalties for refusing a breath test in Utah?

In the United States, people like to believe that they are free to make their own decisions. While this is often the case, there are times when people have limited choices. When interacting with police officers, Utah residents may think that they have the ability to make choices about how they will respond to officers. This is true in many cases -- since people have the right under the Constitution to remain silent -- but when a person is suspected of drinking and driving, their options become more limited.

Under Title 41 Chapter 6a Section 520 of Utah's code, people cannot refuse chemical testing to determine their blood alcohol content level. If an officer suspects that you are drunk, and you refuse to undergo chemical testing -- including either a blood, breath or urine test -- then you can face additional penalties.

Drug trafficking charges can be serious -- protect your rights

Unlike some other areas of the law, the criminal code governing drug laws is very complex. These laws vary greatly depending on a wide number of factors. These factors can include a person's intent, the amount of drugs a person has, the type of drug a person has, whether the person has a criminal record, where the person was found with drugs, who the person was with and so on. Depending on the answer to these questions, prosecutors can choose a different type of drug charges, with different consequences for the accused.

One of the most serious drug charges available is for drug trafficking. In these cases, prosecutors are accusing you of distributing or selling drugs. These charges often carry the most severe penalties. Again, however, the specific charges you face will depend on the amount of drugs you are found with and the type of drugs. Penalties for trafficking marijuana may be different, for example, than the penalties for trafficking heroin.

Salt Lake City police seize 31 pounds of heroin

Charges for drug trafficking are very serious. Unlike charges for drug possession charges, drug trafficking charges are almost always serious felonies that result in long prison sentences, large fines, probation and more. These penalties can make it difficult for the accused to find employment or stable housing. Convicted felons also lose their right to vote, right to own firearms and often need to report their status on school, work and housing applications.

In response to an alleged heroin problem within Salt Lake City, law enforcement officials have recently cracked down on the supply of the drug. Police say that the drug has become cheaper than many other street drugs because of the over-abundant supply from Mexico. Therefore, heroin has become a problem in many of Utah's cities and towns.

When does the Fourth Amendment protect against Utah searches?

In order to bring drug charges, police must have evidence of drug possession. This means that they actually have to find drugs in a person's possession as evidence that a crime had occurred. To do this, police will often search people and their belongings.

Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, Utah residents are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures by governmental officials. Generally, a search is unreasonable if it is conducted in a place where people have a legitimate expectation to privacy. The definition of a reasonable search is very complicated, and many exceptions exist to the general rule. Therefore, those facing charges for drug possession need to have a basic understanding of what is and is not allowed under the law.



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Greg Smith & Associates, Criminal Law Attorneys
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