The Utah state judiciary reports that arrests for drug crimes have skyrocketed in recent years. In an effort to curb recidivism, rehabilitate offenders with substance addictions, and make space for other types of cases to be heard in traditional criminal courts, Utah utilizes an alternative drug court system specifically designed to address — you guessed it — drug charges. The drug court system is very different from the traditional court system, because it offers participants the rare opportunity to have their charges dismissed in exchange for successful program completion. Are you qualified to participate? Read on to find out.
Earlier this week, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that unmarried biological fathers who want to prevent adoption and establish paternity must file a sworn affidavit. The ruling was a crushing blow to 30-year-old South Ogden resident William Bolden, who lost paternity of his biological son for failing to file the affidavit in time.
If you’re getting a divorce and are worried that your ex won’t be a good caretaker to your children, you’ll want to take away his or her parental rights. This may be possible if you can demonstrate that your former spouse is an “unfit parent.” But what makes a parent unfit, and how do you prove it to the courts? If you can’t prove a lack of parental fitness, do you have other recourse for protecting your child?
Few events could be more stressful than watching your child be accused of committing a juvenile crime. It’s a difficult time for you and your family, but the better you understand how Utah’s juvenile justice system works, the calmer and more confident you will feel, and the better you will be able to support your child as their case develops.
In February of 2014, state legislators asked Pew Charitable Trusts to perform a cost analysis of Utah’s prison system. Pew was tasked with proposing a strategy that would minimize expenses while simultaneously “holding offenders accountable” and “improving public safety.” Pew analysts discovered that Utah’s inmate population had increased by 22% over the previous decade — and in particular, the sex offender population had increased by 42%. With the legislature scheduled to reconvene just months from now in January of 2015, lawmakers will eventually have to confront a tough but important question: should prison sentences for sex crimes be reduced in order to free up badly-needed space in Utah’s increasingly crowded correctional facilities?
Utah is known for having some of America’s most relaxed gun laws, consistently filling top slots on lists of best states for gun owners. But while the laws may be lenient, even Utah draws a firm line when it comes to mixing firearms and criminal activity — and so does the federal government. Can you lose your firearm privileges if you’re convicted of committing a crime, such as domestic violence or a weapons crime?
On April 21, 2014, 25-year-old defendant Siale Angilau was fatally shot by a U.S. Marshal after lunging at a witness during his trial at U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. Months later, on September 8, court clerk D. Mark Jones confirmed the existence of video footage of the incident. Relatives and defense attorney Robert Sykes want to review that footage, fearing Angilau may have been the victim of excessive force — but Chief Judge Ted Stewart won’t permit the tapes to be released.
Resentment and distrust toward American law enforcement has reached an all-time high in recent months. In June, hundreds of demonstrators rallied together to protest the killing of Geist the dog, who was shot by SLCPD Officer Brett Olsen. In July, Eric Garner’s chokehold death at the hands of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was ruled a homicide, sparking mass protests in the streets of New York City. Through August, ongoing protests against police brutality in Ferguson captured national headlines, while at the same time, Salt Lake City experienced its own brutality scandal: the August 11 death of 20-year-old Dillon Taylor, who was shot by the SLCPD despite numerous claims he was unarmed. As the South Salt Lake PD continues to investigate the shooting of Dillon Taylor, more and more Utahans are calling for local police departments to start wearing body cameras.