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Utah Legalizes Medical Marijuana Research

Salt Lake City Lawyer for Medical Marijuana Arrests

In 2014, Governor Gary Herbert signed House Bill (HB) 105, the Utah Industrial Hemp Research Act and Hemp Extract Registration Act. The bill—which exempted individuals with intractable epilepsy who use or possess extract from a cannabis plant, or a mixture or preparation containing cannabis plant material, that is composed of less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by weight, is composed of at least 15 percent cannabidiol (CBD) by weight, and contains no other psychoactive substance from the penalties related to possession or use of the hemp extract under the Controlled Substances Act—was named Charlee’s Law in honor of Charlee Nelson, a 6-year-old who the Daily Mail reported had as many as 500 seizures a day and suffered from the neurodegenerative disorder Batten disease.

In addition to lacking provisions that allowed potential users to acquire approved oils or cultivate marijuana, Charlee’s Law also had a sunset date of July 1, 2016. Governor Herbert signed a couple more bills this year that could give hope to Utah residents who are seeking medicinal marijuana.

On March 25, Governor Herbert signed both HB 130, otherwise known as the “Cannabinoid Research Act,” and Senate Bill (SB) 219, relating to CBD in drugs approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HB 130 allows a person conducting an approved study to, for the purposes of the study, process a cannabinoid product or an expanded cannabinoid product, possess a cannabinoid product or an expanded cannabinoid product, and administer a cannabinoid product, or an expanded cannabinoid product to an individual in accordance with the approved study.

Under HB 130, a person conducting an approved study may also import cannabis, a cannabinoid product, or an expanded cannabinoid product from another state if the importation complies with federal law and the person uses the cannabis, cannabinoid product, or expanded cannabinoid product in accordance with the approved study, or obtain cannabis, a cannabinoid product, or an expanded cannabinoid product from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). A person conducting an approved study may also distribute cannabis, a cannabinoid product, or an expanded cannabinoid product outside the state if the distribution complies with federal law and the distribution is for the purposes of, and in accordance with, the approved study.

SB 219 provides a schedule in the state Controlled Substances Act for CBD in a drug product approved by the FDA. While the Desert News reported on January 27 that state lawmakers were considering laying the groundwork for medicinal marijuana, they had no plans this year to make it legal in Utah. Representative Gage Froerer told the Desert News that lawmakers also wanted to “wait until the Trump administration’s stance on medical marijuana becomes clear.”

Salt Lake City Lawyer for Medical Marijuana Arrests

THC and synthetic equivalents of the substances contained in the cannabis plant, or in the resinous extractives of cannabis, are classified as Schedule I controlled substances under the Utah Controlled Substances Act. THC and marijuana (referred to as “marihuana” in the statute) are also classified as Schedule I controlled substances under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), meaning that they are considered “drugs with no currently accepted medical use.”

Marijuana, however, has been routinely shown to control or decrease the symptoms associated with epileptic seizures or other severe seizure disorders. Smoking cannabis has also proven helpful for people suffering from multiple sclerosis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, and glaucoma.

Without access to legal marijuana or even CBD oils, many people with serious medical conditions who stand to benefit from cannabis use instead risk serious criminal penalties for possessing marijuana. While possession of smaller amounts of cannabis is usually a misdemeanor offense, repeat offenses or cases involving possession of larger amounts can lead to felony charges.

If you are arrested in Utah for alleged possession of marijuana that you needed to help treat you or your loved one’s medical condition, it is in your best interest to immediately contact an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney. Darren Levitt is a lifetime member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a nonprofit organization with the mission “to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.”

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Utah Sees Major Drug Busts

Salt Lake City Drug Crime Defense Lawyer reported on March 30 that Salt Lake City police officers seized almost 330,000 doses of drugs in 2016, an astonishing 82 percent increase from the previous year. An officer with the Salt Lake City Police Department told KSL, “We’ve got people coming from not just around the valley, but all over the adjoining counties because it’s so easy to buy dope here.”

Dope can be slang for just about any illegal drug. It seems as though Utah has had no shortage of major arrests involving controlled substances in recent months.

On March 23, the Desert News reported that Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) troopers stopped a vehicle on Interstate 80 and found 100 pounds of marijuana in vacuum-sealed bags a mere two days after holding a press conference to talk about the unusually high quantities of drugs that UHP troopers were finding on the road. Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant Steve Salas said at the news conference that the approximately 110 pounds of methamphetamine seized over the course of two weeks was “about double what we historically seize in the first two months of a year.”

The St. George News reported on February 13 that Garland Police, the Tremonton Police Department, and the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office seized than 36 pounds of methamphetamine with a reported street value estimated of over $500,000 “sealed in food jars to hide the contents” just off Interstate 15 in northern Utah. KSTU-TV reported last November that a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation resulted in the discovery of hundreds of thousands of counterfeit opioid tablets and nearly $1 million in cash as part of an alleged pill manufacturing operation in Cottonwood Heights that was one of the largest drug busts in Utah history.

KSTU also reported on March 28 that a 19-year-old Oregon man was pulled over for driving on the walking path in Hobble Creek Canyon, and a subsequent search of the man’s vehicle resulted in the seizure of 727 ecstasy pills, 2 grams of cocaine, 8 vials of LSD, 47 grams of marijuana, 12 Xanax pills, 22 grams of dab (synthetic marijuana or marijuana hash oil), and $1,120 in cash. The quantities totaled more than 2,200 individual doses of drugs with a street value of approximately $25,000.

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office believed the man intended to sell drugs at the Holi Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork that weekend. The man was charged with six counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, three counts of endangering a child, one count of driving with a measurable controlled substance in the body, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of driving on the sidewalk. The man was accompanied by three juveniles—a boy and two girls—who were cited for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia before the mother of one of the girls drove to Utah and took all three juveniles back to Oregon, according to KTSU.

Salt Lake City Drug Crime Defense Lawyer

The staggering number of drug arrests in Utah not only illustrates how prevalent controlled substances are in the Salt Lake City area, but also how authorities continue to investigate and enforce drug laws. Rest assured, these types of cases remain a major issue for law enforcement agencies all over the Beehive State.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said the jail restrictions implemented by Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder in 2016 intended to help reduce overcrowding at the local jail led to an increase in the number of drug-related offenses and overdose deaths shot in Salt Lake City in 2016. “I think it’s way too early, and frankly impossible, to tell if a single policy about misdemeanor booking restrictions can so affect crime rates,” Winder told the Tribune.

Even simple possession of controlled substance offenses can be classified as felonies in certain cases. When a person is accused of having intent to distribute a controlled substance or is charged with drug trafficking, prosecutors will aggressively seek maximum penalties.

Whether you are a resident of Utah or a visitor from another state or country, any kind of drug-related arrest can create a significant number of legal issues that carry very serious long-term consequences. You should always try not to say anything to police without legal representation.

It is in your best interest to contact a Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to receive a thorough review of your case. Criminal charges could be reduced or dismissed if law enforcement officers violated your constitutional rights during any search or seizure relating to a controlled substance.

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Utah Becomes First State to Lower BAC Limit to 0.05

Utah was the first state to lower the legal limit for blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) when driving from 0.10 to 0.08 in 1983, so perhaps it is not terribly surprising that the Beehive State appears poised to become the first state to once again further lower the limits. On March 23, Governor Gary Herbert signed House Bill (HB) 155, effectively reducing the BAC limits for driving under the influence (DUI) and other criminal offenses from 0.08 to 0.05.

The move comes nearly four years after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that the states reduce the allowable BAC to 0.05. All 50 states in the nation and the District of Columbia adopted the 0.08 standard after then-President Bill Clinton signed a law in 2000 that withheld federal highway funds from states that did not comply.

The New York Times noted in 2013 that the “standard in most of the industrialized world is 0.05 percent,” but The Hill reported that same year of the NTSB push that states showed little interest in revisiting the hot-button issue, industry groups lined up against the plan, and even Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) declined to endorse the NTSB recommendations.

Governor Herbert faced similar pressure from groups lobbying against the bill. Restaurant and hospitality groups such as the Utah Restaurant Association and the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association urged the governor to veto the bill, and the American Beverage Institute (ABI) took out this full-page ad in USA Today and Salt Lake City’s daily newspapers opposing the bill:

Salt Lake City DUI Lawyer

According to the Times, government statistics show that people with a BAC of 0.05 percent are 38 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than those who have not been drinking, while individuals with BACs of 0.08 percent are 169 percent more likely. Restaurant and hospitality groups were not only fearful about possible decreases in alcohol consumption and tourism because of a decreased BAC threshold, but the industry was also dealing with expected increases in the price of liquor because of the governor signing HB 442, which would tear down the so-called “Zion Curtains” in restaurants and overhaul other parts of Utah liquor laws.

Salt Lake City DUI Attorney

While it will remain to be seen what effect lowering BAC limits has on the reduction in traffic fatalities in Utah, we are probably more likely to see an increase in the number of DUI arrests in the Beehive State when HB 155 takes effect on December 30, 2018. According to MADD, about one-third of all individuals arrested or convicted for drunk driving are repeat offenders.

Men who weigh 240 pounds or less could be considered legally intoxicated in Utah if they consume three alcoholic beverages in one hour. A woman who weighs less than 180 pounds can have a BAC of 0.05 or higher after only two alcoholic drinks consumed in an hour. A woman who weighs 100 pounds or less could reach the 0.05 BAC limit after a single drink.

Many people arrested for DUI for the first time in Utah often claim that they did not realize how intoxicated they were. When the state BAC limit is lowered to 0.05, there will likely be even more people who feel as though they passed field sobriety tests and did not exhibit any signs or symptoms of intoxication but were arrested for DUI after blowing 0.05 or higher.

ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell called Governor Herbert’s decision to sign HB 155 “a sad day for Utah.” “Governor Herbert’s decision to sign Utah’s .05 legislation will not only harm the people of Utah, but cripple their restaurant and tourism industries,” Longwell said in a statement. “A 120 pound woman can now have little more than a single drink before being subject to arrest, $10,000 in fines, attorney fees, increased insurance costs, and the social stigma of being labeled a “drunk driver”—which will lead many to forgo that glass of wine with dinner.”

KSTU-TV reported that if a special session is called, “lawmakers could water down HB155 to delay when it becomes effective and its overall impact if someone is ever arrested with a .05 BAC.” For the time being, residents and visitors should plan on being even more cautious than usual when consuming alcohol in Utah.

If you are charged with DUI anywhere in Salt Lake County, you should know that an arrest is not the same as a conviction. An experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer can review every aspect of your traffic stop and arrest to determine whether any police error or oversight could lead to criminal charges being reduced or dismissed.

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Identity Fraud Still Concern for IRS

Salt Lake City Identity Fraud Lawyer

Tax Day 2017, the IRS filing deadline for 2016 tax returns, falls on April 18 this year. The Desert News reported on April 3 that because many people pay other parties to prepare returns for them, officials with the IRS are cautioning taxpayers to “be wary of shady characters masquerading as professional preparers.”

Every year, the IRS releases a “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams that includes a variety of common scams taxpayers may encounter any time during the year. According to the IRS, tax-related identity theft “remains a top item on the Dirty Dozen list because it remains an ongoing concern even though progress is being made.”

The agency said that the number of taxpayers reporting stolen identities on federal tax returns in 2016 fell by more than 50 percent, with nearly 275,000 fewer victims compared to a year ago. The IRS provides the following reminders for taxpayers and tax professionals:

  • Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records stored on the computer. Use strong passwords.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening phone calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as a bank, credit card company and government organizations, including the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
  • Protect personal data. Don’t routinely carry a Social Security card, and make sure tax records are secure. Treat personal information like cash; don’t leave it lying around.

The crime commonly known as identity theft is referred to as identity fraud in the Utah Code. The offense is typically a third-degree felony when the value of the credit, goods, services, employment, or any other thing of value involved is less than $5,000, but the crime can become a second-degree felony if the value is or exceeds $5,000, or if the use of personal identifying information results, directly or indirectly, in bodily injury of another person.

Lawyer for Identity Fraud Arrests in Salt Lake City

An alleged offender commits the crime of identity fraud in Utah under Utah Code § 76-6-1102 when he or she knowingly or intentionally uses, or attempts to use, the personal identifying information of another person, whether that person is alive or deceased, with fraudulent intent, including to obtain, or attempt to obtain, credit, goods, services, employment, any other thing of value, or medical information. Personal identifying information can include a name, birth date, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, Social Security number, place of employment, employee identification numbers or other personal identification numbers, mother’s maiden name, electronic identification numbers, a photograph or any other realistic likeness, electronic signatures under Title 46, Chapter 4, Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, or any other numbers or information that can be used to access a person’s financial resources or medical information, except for numbers or information that can be prosecuted as financial transaction card offenses.

When a person is accused of committing an identity fraud offense or any white collar crime in Utah, it is critical to immediately seek the help of an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney. Many alleged offenders in these types of cases had no intent to obtain goods or services through fraud. Some people face these charges as the result of using personal information at the request of the alleged victims.

A lawyer may be able to uncover flaws in a prosecutor’s case that lead to criminal charges being minimized or completely eliminated. If you think that you might be under investigation or you have already been arrested in Utah for alleged identity fraud, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible for help achieving the most favorable possible resolution to your case.

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Veteran’s Court Program: An Alternative to Incarceration for U.S. Veterans

Utah Veteran's CourtAccording to the United States Department of Justice’s special report on veterans in prison and jail, which was released in December 2015, 181,500 veterans were incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons. From 2011-2012 armed forces veterans made up 8 percent of the jail and prison population.

The figures regarding incarcerated veterans are especially troubling considering approximately half of veterans in jail or prison have been diagnosed with a mental disorder by a medical professional. Commonly, veteran suffer from serious mental health issues after military service, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), which contribute to  criminal and violent behavior.

Studies show veterans are more likely to be sentenced for violent crimes than non-veterans. Of the veterans convicted, more than 77 percent were honorably discharged or discharged under honorable conditions.

Commonly, veterans were charged with the following offenses:

  • Domestic Violence
  • Driving Under the Influence/Drunk Driving (DUI)
  • Weapons/Firearms Charges
  • Assault/Aggravated Assault

Utah law makers recognize that the men and women who served honorably in the United States Armed Forces face unique and pronounced obstacles reintegrating into society after military service and combat. In response, the Utah Legislature created Veteran’s Courts, also called the Justice Outreach Initiative, in March of 2015.

Utah Code §78A-5-301, the legislation which authorizes Veteran’s Courts, allows former active military, naval, or air service members to enter the program upon entering a plea of guilty or plea in abeyance (or no contest).  Both low-level and more serious offenders are eligible for the program.

Acceptance into the Veteran’s Court is discretionary and requires a showing of why the program is appropriate based on the criminal offense. If you are a veteran or former military member charged with a criminal offense anywhere in Utah, including Salt Lake County, Box Elder County, Cache County, Weber County, or surrounding areas, it is important to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney about the Utah Veteran’s Court program.

What is the Veteran’s Program?

Veteran’s Court is a collaborative program involving defense attorneys, prosecutors, the court, and the United States Office of Veteran Affairs that is designed to help veteran; particularly those who suffer with post-traumatic stress syndrome or other mental illness, connect with the resources they need and reintegrate into society.

As part of the Veteran’s Court program, the following requirements must be met:

  1. The defendant must be a former member of the military, naval, or air service;
  2. The defendant must enter a plea of guilty or a plea in abeyance to criminal charges;
  3. As part of the program, the defendant is subject to frequent alcohol testing (if appropriate);
  4. The defendant must participate in veteran diversion outreach program, including substance abuse program (if appropriate); and
  5. The defendant must fulfill any additional sanctions or penalties imposed by the Court, which are appropriate to promote public safety, safety of victim(s), and are consistent with the defendant’s due process rights.

The Utah Veteran’s Court Program accepts defendants charged with low-level and serious offenses. According to Richard Schwermer, assistant Utah State Courts administrator, in a June 2015 interview, the Veteran’s Court program is dedicated to individuals who are already pained by the deaths of their comrades. The program is committed to helping them.

He emphatically stated:

“If we don’t take them in veteran’s court, by definition they’re going to get less help. That’s why we take the folks with very serious issues.”

Why do I Need an Attorney for the Veteran’s Program?

While the Veteran’s Court Program is dedicated to the rehabilitation and treatment of former United States Armed Forces members, acceptance into the program is discretionary. This means that an individual is not automatically accepted into the program by virtue of veteran status.

  1. Veteran’s Court is Not Automatic: The veteran defendant must show that he or she deserves acceptance into the program. Veteran’s Court does accept both low-level and more serious criminal defendants; however, the defendant must show he or she can be rehabilitated and will not show a continuing threat to the public. An experienced criminal defense attorney can identify the necessary evidence to support why acceptance into the program is appropriate.
  2. Adherence to Program Requirements is Important: The Veteran’s Court Program is not a “get out of jail free” card. Participants must follow the program’s strict requirements, which include peer mentoring, substance abuse counseling, alcohol abuse counseling, regular court check-ins, and frequent alcohol testing. Failure to adhere to these requirements could result in dismissal from the program and subject the defendant to jail time and expensive fines.
  3. Expunction is Possible upon Completion: Also, the benefits of the Veteran’s Court program are too great to leave up to chance. Upon acceptance and completion of the program, the criminal charges are dropped or the defendant’s criminal record is expunged.

Expunction or the process of clearing the criminal offense from public record is key to a veteran getting his or her life back on track after receiving tools and resources from the Veteran’s Court program.


Darren Levitt of Levitt Legal is an experienced criminal defense attorney based in Salt Lake City, Utah. He represents veterans and civilians, who have been charged with criminal offenses, including domestic violence, assault, DUI, theft, and more.

Levitt Legal proudly defends individuals throughout Utah, including Salt Lake City, Sandy, West Jordan, West Valley City, and surrounding areas. Contact Levitt Legal at 801-455-1743 for a confidential review of your case. Attorney available 24/7.


 Utah Code §78A-5-301 ǀ Veterans Court

National Alliance of Mental Illness-Veterans and Active Duty

Department of Justice ǀ Veterans in Prison and Jail, 2011-12

Department of Justice ǀ Veterans in Prison and Jail, 2004


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Five Things Tourists Should Know if Arrested in Utah

Salt Lake CityLate last month, a 19-year-old man was arrested in Florida for his alleged role in the March killing of a convenience store clerk in Murray. Roughly one week later, two men were arrested in Colorado for the alleged kidnapping, forgery, and exploitation of a vulnerable adult in South Salt Lake. All three of these alleged offenders were awaiting extradition to Utah after being taken into custody.

While the nature of these crimes garnered media attention, people should understand that alleged out of state offenders facing many other types of more common criminal charges in Utah are also extradited to the Beehive State when they are apprehended in other states. People who may be visiting the Salt Lake City area on vacation, business, or traveling through the state for other reasons cannot assume that arrests for offenses such as driving under the influence (DUI) or possession of a controlled substance will just be forgotten and languish in Utah courts.

If you have been arrested in the greater Salt Lake City area while visiting from another state, here are five things you should know about the charges you face:

  1. Arrest warrants issued in Utah are valid in other states — While a criminal case can only be tried within the jurisdiction that the offense occurred, a bench warrant that is issued following your failure to appear can lead to you being arrested by any law enforcement agency that learns of the warrant. This means that if you pulled over for a minor traffic infraction in your state of residence, a police officer could take you into custody based solely on that Utah warrant.
  2. Extradition applies in all 50 states — As stated above, people whom the state of Utah deem fugitives from justice can be extradited from other states to face punishment in the Beehive State. Title 18 United States Code § 3182 requires all states to deliver fugitives from justice for any crimes to the states from which they fled.
  3. There is no statute of limitations — Do not think that if you stay out of trouble in your home state for a certain number of year that the criminal charges will just go away. Utah Code § 76-1-304(1) plainly states, “The period of limitation does not run against any defendant during any period of time in which the defendant is out of the state following the commission of an offense.”
  4. A bounty hunter could be looking for you — If you were released from prison through a bail bond company and failed to appear in court, then the bail bond company is usually on the hook for a large sum of money. These companies typically employ licenses bail enforcement agents (commonly referred to as “bounty hunters”) to locate and apprehend people who have jumped bail. There may be limitations on what these agents can do depending on the state that you live in, but they can generally enter your property without a warrant if they feel that you are a flight risk and rest assured that they certainly have the financial incentive to bring you to justice.
  5. Hiring a Utah attorney can easily help you avoid all of these troubles — Many people fail to appear in court simply because they believe their residence in another state excuses their absence. While not living in Utah can indeed make the prospect of repeated court appearances quite a hassle, these appearances are not always necessary. A Salt Lake City criminal lawyer can appear on your behalf and possibly resolve your case without you having to arrange any flight tickets.
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What To Know About Utah Protective Order Hearings

CourtroomDomestic violence has received increased national awareness in recent months. More people have spoken out about the seriousness of this issue, often helping victims understand their options. In the state of Utah, domestic violence often involves current or former spouses, people in dating relationships, or members of the same household.

Many of these cases can result in the issuance of protective orders. In Utah, there are two types of protective orders that a court may issue under the Cohabitant Abuse Act:

  • Criminal protective orders are issued when there are criminal domestic violence charges against an alleged offender. A court may issue a protective order while a case is pending or after an alleged offender has been convicted.
  • Civil protective orders are sought from courts by alleged victims in cases in which there may not be criminal charges. There are two types of civil protective orders: Temporary protective orders and final protective orders.

Temporary protective orders are frequently called “ex parte” protective orders. Ex parte is Latin for “by or for one party,” and ex parte judicial proceedings are conducted solely for the benefit of one party. A Utah court may issue an ex parte protective order based only on testimony from the alleged victim. These types of protective orders are temporary and will expire if they are not extended at hearing dates.

The issuance of an ex parte protective order will usually lead to a date being set for a final protective order hearing, typically within 20 days. During this hearing, an alleged offender will have the opportunity to present his or her own case. Because emotions usually run high in these types of cases, it is wise to have legal representation for a protective order hearing.

Under Utah Code § 78B-7-106, a protective order may grant the following types of relief to alleged victims:

  • Prohibit the alleged offender from threatening to commit or committing domestic violence or abuse against the alleged victim and any designated family or household member
  • Prohibit the alleged offender from harassing, telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the alleged victim, directly or indirectly
  • Order that the alleged offender to leave and stay away from the residence, school, or place of employment of the alleged victim
  • Prohibit the alleged offender from purchasing, using, or possessing a firearm or other weapon specified by the court
  • Award possession and use of an automobile and other essential personal effects to the alleged victim
  • Grant to the alleged victim temporary custody of any minor children
  • Order any further relief that the court considers necessary to provide for the safety and welfare of the alleged victim and any designated family or household member
  • Order the alleged offender to pay child support or spousal support

Alleged offenders need to remember that temporary protective orders are still in effect when both parties appear in court for the final hearing, meaning that any confrontations outside the courthouse may lead to criminal charges for violations of protective orders. Again, it is wise to seek the help of an experienced lawyer who can help prepare written statements, present evidence and witnesses, and generally ensure all legal guidelines are properly followed.

Legal counsel will not only help you prepare the strongest possible initial case, but will also understand what your appeal options are if you are preparing for a protective order hearing. If you have an upcoming protective order hearing in Utah, contact a Salt Lake City domestic violence defense attorney today to discuss your case and understand all of your legal options.

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Robbery and Aggravated Robbery: Part 1 – Force or Fear


If you have been charged with Robbery or Aggravated Robbery in Utah, then you should speak with an experienced and determined Utah criminal defense attorney, who frequently represents clients accused of violent crimes.  Having a skilled, focused, and detail-oriented criminal defense attorney on your side can mean the difference between emerging from your criminal legal problems unscathed and going to jail or prison.

Utah Code section 76-6-301(1)(a) defines robbery as the taking of “personal property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by means of force or fear, and with a purpose or intent to deprive the person permanently or temporarily of the personal property.”  Robbery is a second degree felony.

Perhaps the most important element of the robbery is the “‘force’ or ‘fear’” clause.  You may be surprised to learn what the Utah Supreme Court has found constitutes force or fear for the purpose of robbery.

Imagine two teenagers at the mall. One kid takes the other’s sunglasses and cell phone, and won’t return it to him after several requests.  The two kids agree to “slap box” for the items.  One of the kids then clenches his fist, hits the other in the head, and walks off with the other’s personal items.  These were the facts in the case of State in the Interest of D.B., 925 P.2d 178 (Utah Ct. Apps. 1996).  In that case, the Court declined to follow the “transactional approach” and held that the ‘”force or fear” in robbery need not be in the act of taking of the property, but rather in accomplishing the taking of the property either prior to its taking or in its completion.  So D.B. was guilty of robbery even though he didn’t use force in accomplishing the acquisition of the cell phone and sunglasses, he did use force in completion of the taking, and that was sufficient enough to satisfy the fear or force element of the crime of robbery.

Consider another, more recent case of State v. Phillips, 2006 UT App 211.  Defendant Phillips had taken compact discs from a library when a security guard approached him.  Phillips responded “I have a knife” and displayed a knife hidden in his sleeve.  The security guard feared for his life, and the court held that by flashing the knife during his attempted escape, Phillips used the fear of force in the immediate flight after his theft.  Additionally, his crime was enhanced to aggravated robbery, a first degree felony, since Phillips used a dangerous weapon in the course of committing a robbery.

“A person commits aggravated robbery if in the course of committing robbery, he: (a) uses or threatens the use of a dangerous weapon as defined in Section 76-1-601; (b) causes serious bodily injury upon another; or (c) takes or attempts to take an operable motor vehicle.” Utah Code § 76-6-302(1).

If you have been charged with Robbery or Aggravated Robbery in Utah, a trained and experienced criminal defense attorney can mean all the difference. Click here to contact a trained professional in Salt Lake City, Utah to begin protecting your rights today.



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Utah Legislature Ponders Change to DUI Roadblock Law

source: SoCal photos

Last month the Utah House of Representatives voted 8-5 in favor of recommending HB 140.  HB 140, also called the “Vehicle Checkpoints Amendments” Act, repeals authorization for traffic checkpoints regarding impaired driving and vehicle operation.  More specifically, the bill repeals authorization for administrative traffic checkpoints regarding drivers that may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and regarding license plates, registration certificates, insurance certificates, or drivers’ licenses.

To be sure, however, the bill does not do away with checkpoints all together.  Instead, the new law requires that the administrative traffic checkpoint may be established and operated upon written authority of a judge.  A judge may issue written authority where there is a written plan for the checkpoint describing details of the operation, such as: the location, date/time/duration, sequence of traffic to be stopped, purpose, minimum personnel numbers, configuration (signs, etc), advance notice to public-at-large, and instruction given to operating enforcement officers.

The judge is required to make an independent judicial determination that the plan minimizes the time delay, privacy intrusions, to motorists.

If you’ve been stopped and charged with a DUI, then a DUI attorney in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas of Utah can certainly help you vigorously defend against the charges and protect your rights.

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“Even though my case was only a small traffic violation to him, it meant the world to me.  That’s why I was so grateful when Darren took the time to fully explain things and answer my questions.  I would definitely recommend him as a criminal defense attorney, and a really nice person!”

I.S., Salt Lake City

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