Utah Criminal Defense Blog
What is a Motion to Suppress Evidence and When Can it Be Used?

What is a Motion to Suppress Evidence and When Can it Be Used?

Motions are an important part of the criminal justice process, not only for defendants in Utah, but throughout the United States.  Put simply, motions are legal documents that are used to make formal requests to the court.  Of course, the full explanation is more nuanced.  Here, Salt Lake City drug crime lawyer Darwin Overson will discuss how and when motions are used to influence the evidence that can be used in criminal cases in Utah. How Do Motions Work in Court?  Various motions can be filed by prosecutors and/or criminal defense attorneys prior to trial.  The party who files a motion is called the “moving party.” Motions often play a major role in sculpting the course of a criminal case.  Depending on what types are filed, motions can have a direct impact on whether the defendant should be charged, and if so, what sort of evidence can (or cannot) be admitted for review. The rules governing the use of pretrial motions are laid out in the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure under Rule 12.  Rule 12 requires all motions to be: Written. Submitted to the court at least seven days before trial, with some exceptions. While every motion is different, all are required to provide two pieces of information: The reason (“grounds” on which) the motion is being filed. The result being sought. When Do Defense Attorneys Use Motions to Suppress Evidence in Criminal Cases?  Motions to suppress evidence are most often used in cases that involve violations of the defendant’s Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.  What are these rights? The Fourth Amendment grants every...
Where to Go for Criminal Court in Salt Lake County

Where to Go for Criminal Court in Salt Lake County

After you have been arrested and criminally charged, your Salt Lake City assault lawyer will guide you through every stage of the Utah court process, making sure you know where to go and when to arrive.  However, this article can serve as a helpful quick-reference guide for finding district and justice court locations in Salt Lake County. District Court Locations in Salt Lake City and West Jordan Utah is divided into eight sections called judicial districts.  Each district contains at least three counties, though some, such as the Sixth Judicial District, contain as many as six.  Along with Summit County and Tooele County, Salt Lake County is part of Utah’s Third Judicial District. District courts have jurisdiction over: Class A Misdemeanors — Theft by extortion of $500 to $1,499, carrying a loaded concealed firearm, reckless endangerment Felonies  Third Degree Felonies — Homicide by assault, marijuana possession with intent to distribute Second Degree Felonies — Robbery, burglary of a dwelling, manslaughter First Degree Felonies — Murder, child kidnapping, rape If you are charged with a Class A misdemeanor or a felony offense in Salt Lake County, you will be required to appear in the appropriate district court.  In Salt Lake County, there are two district court locations: Salt Lake City and West Jordan. Salt Lake City District Court is located at the following address: Matheson Courthouse 450 South State Street P.O. Box 1860 Salt Lake City, UT 84114-1860 You may also find the following phone numbers useful if you have any questions about a criminal case being heard in Salt Lake City District Court: Main Number — (801) 238-7300 Criminal...
Where to Bring Your Child for Juvenile Court in Salt Lake County

Where to Bring Your Child for Juvenile Court in Salt Lake County

People aged 17 and younger are considered juveniles.  When a juvenile is accused of committing a crime in Utah, his or her case will be assigned an intake officer, who will work with the parents to determine how the case is going to proceed.  If the juvenile denies the allegations, he or she will be scheduled for a hearing before a judge.  If the juvenile admits guilt, the intake officer might bring them to court for a hearing, or, depending on the circumstances, might be able to develop a contract that will allow the juvenile to avoid court altogether. Your son or daughter’s juvenile defense attorney in Salt Lake City will guide your child and family through Utah’s court system as the case develops, but this article will help provide at-a-glance information about addresses and phone numbers for juvenile court locations in Salt Lake County and the surrounding counties of Utah’s Third Judicial District. Can a Minor Be Criminally Charged in Justice or District Court Like an Adult Defendant?  Most juvenile crimes in Utah involve lesser violations and misdemeanor offenses, such as: Underage drinking Criminal trespass  Graffiti and other acts of vandalism Retail theft (shoplifting) under $1,500 Simple assault  Disorderly conduct Possession of drug paraphernalia Minor drug crimes like simple possession of marijuana However, there are also instances where juveniles are accused of committing extremely serious felonies, including attempted murder and various aggravated felonies, such as aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and aggravated sexual assault.  Under Utah’s “Serious Youth Offender Law” (SYOL), a juvenile charged with a felony in Utah as young as 14 years old may be tried in...
Do You Lose the Right to Vote if You Are Convicted of a Felony in Utah?

Do You Lose the Right to Vote if You Are Convicted of a Felony in Utah?

Having a criminal record doesn’t mean you lose your ability to vote.  Whether you’re hoping to support Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or someone else entirely, you should know about your right to make your voice heard as an American voter.  In this article, Salt Lake City sex crimes lawyer Darwin Overson will examine how Utah voting rights are affected by a felony conviction, a misdemeanor conviction, being on probation or parole, or being incarcerated in prison. Can You Vote in Utah if You Are a Former Felon, Current Inmate, or Are on Parole or Probation? A felony record can be a heavy burden to carry.  Former felons sometimes struggle to find housing or jobs, or face denials when trying to earn professional licenses or join the military.  Being convicted of a violent felony, such as stalking or aggravated sexual assault — as well as being on probation or parole for any felony, including non-violent felonies — will also result in the loss of your Utah gun rights, which are limited by Utah Code § 76-10-503. A felony conviction can also impact your voting rights as a resident of Utah.  (If you’re looking for information about how voting rights are affected by misdemeanors, scroll down to the next section, which addresses that question in detail.) If you are convicted of a felony in Utah, you will lose your right to vote.  This applies under Utah Code § 20A-2-101.5 regardless of whether you are found guilty in state or federal court.  However, the loss is only temporary.  The same statute provides that your right to vote will be restored as soon...
Can You Withdraw a Guilty Plea in Utah?

Can You Withdraw a Guilty Plea in Utah?

Everyone knows that defendants have to enter a plea. What fewer people realize is that in some circumstances, you can also withdraw a plea — even if you already pleaded guilty. In this article, drug defense lawyer Darwin Overson explains the criteria for withdrawing a guilty plea in Utah. Types of Criminal Pleas Defendants Can Enter Before we examine the various types of criminal pleas, it’s very important to emphasize that you should always consult with an attorney before you accept a plea bargain, enter or withdraw a plea, or indeed make any legal decisions pertaining to your case. If you act without a full understanding of your options — and their potential consequences — you could inadvertently give up rights or incriminate yourself, increasing the risk of fines, prison, and other criminal penalties. With that in mind, let’s examine the different types of pleas which are recognized by Utah’s courts. It’s a very common misconception that plea options are limited to “guilty” and “not guilty.” In reality, the issue is more complex than simply confirming or denying the charges. Under Rule 11(b), the Utah judiciary actually recognizes five types of pleas: Not Guilty — You deny the charges. Guilty — You confirm the charges. Even if you think you may be found guilty, it is critical to discuss your options with your lawyer first. Remember, you are considered innocent until the prosecutor is able to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Because of the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof falls on the prosecutor to demonstrate your guilt. This is established by the Due Process clauses...
What Happens if I Get Arrested While on Probation in Utah?

What Happens if I Get Arrested While on Probation in Utah?

Probation is often confused with parole. Parole means an inmate is released from jail or prison early, while probation means a convicted person avoids incarceration altogether. Probation, like parole, demands strict compliance with certain rules and conditions — and breaking these rules can lead to tough criminal penalties. In this blog post, Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson will explain the possible consequences of a probation violation in Utah, what defendants can expect from the hearing process, and whether posting bail remains a possibility after violating probation. Can I Still Post Bail? Probation doesn’t come for free. In exchange for being granted probation instead of serving time, probationers must obey certain rules. A few common examples include submitting to drug testing, pursuing further education or employment, paying fines and restitution, avoiding additional arrests. If an arrest does occur, the probationer must notify his or her probation officer within several days. If you are arrested while on probation, you may still be eligible to post bail and be released from custody, provided you are not deemed to be a flight risk and/or a danger to the general public. However, there is a significant exception to bail privileges: felonies. Article 1, Section 8 of the Utah Constitution states in part the following: “All persons charged with a crime shall be bailable except… persons charged with a felony while on probation or parole.” Examples of felonies include aggravated assault, rape, manslaughter, burglary, robbery, kidnapping, theft over $1,000, and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. If you are charged with any of these or other felonies while on probation, you...
If I Get Divorced, What Happens to My Green Card?

If I Get Divorced, What Happens to My Green Card?

From minor details to huge parts of your daily routine, getting divorced changes every aspect of your life. This is especially true of individuals who have obtained their green card by marrying a U.S. citizen in Utah (or any other state). In this article, Salt Lake City divorce attorney Rex Bray will discuss how getting divorced can affect U.S. citizenship. Will I Be Deported from the U.S.? The good news is that getting divorced does not necessarily mean you will no longer qualify for U.S. citizenship. The bad news is that your divorce (and marriage) may be closely scrutinized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which seeks to uncover marriages that were entered into for immigration purposes rather than sincere intent to build a life together. USCIS regards these fraudulent marriages as a pervasive and serious problem in the U.S. immigration system, and, depending on the circumstances of the divorce, may require you to submit certain documentation proving you and your spouse entered into a bona fide marriage. Depending on your ability to submit such documentation, USCIS may deny your citizenship or, in extreme cases, even refer your case to immigration court for possible deportation from the U.S. Deportation, while certainly not guaranteed, is a possibility in some situations. Proving a Bona Fide Marriage to USCIS The timing of your divorce plays a significant role in determining what will happen next. If your divorce occurred: After your I-130 Visa petition is approved — Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative), which is filed by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident on behalf of the person who wishes to...
If I Get Divorced, What Happens to My Pension?

If I Get Divorced, What Happens to My Pension?

Thousands of Utahans have a pension, and thousands of Utahans file for divorce. Where the two groups overlap, some important legal question arise. What will happen to my retirement savings if I ever get divorced? And how much money can my spouse get? In this article, West Valley City divorce lawyer Rex Bray will explain how Utah divides pension money when a marriage is dissolved. The Woodward Formula: How Utah Calculates Pension Rights in Divorce In 1982, the Utah Supreme Court ruled in Woodward v. Woodward that pension plans accrued during a marriage were “subject to equitable distribution.” However, the term “equitable distribution” has a slightly unusual meaning in this particular context. Most of the time, equitable distribution means that the courts will take a variety of factors into consideration in order to divide property in the fairest way possible – not the evenest way possible. Therefore, if one spouse earns significantly less than the other, the spouse with lower income might be awarded a greater share of assets and possessions. With the Woodward decision, the Supreme Court created a specific formula: “The wife [should] receive one-half of the benefits accrued during the marriage, regardless of the length of time the husband continues in the same employment. Whenever the husband chooses to terminate his government employment, the marital property subject to distribution is a portion of the retirement benefits represented by the number of years of the marriage divided by the number of years of the husband’s employment. The wife is entitled to one-half of that portion.” Here’s another way of describing the same formula: Start with half the...
Am I Liable for My Spouse’s Debts if We Get Divorced?

Am I Liable for My Spouse’s Debts if We Get Divorced?

Everyone knows that property gets divided in a divorce – but what happens to the divorcing couple’s debts? Are shared debts treated differently than debts which are held by individual spouses? And is it really possible to get stuck paying off your ex-husband or ex-wife’s bills? In this article, we’ll explain how Utah treats joint and personal debts incurred during (and before) marriage. Am I Responsible for Paying Off My Spouse’s Personal Debts? Let us preface this article by stating that judicial intervention is not always necessary. If you and your spouse are able to agree on how your debts should be divided, the court is likely to accept your plan provided it doesn’t violate any state or federal laws. However, as with child support and child custody in Utah, the court will be forced to intervene if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on your own terms. In the interest of keeping your divorce quick and simple as possible, you may want to try creating a debt division plan with your spouse. If it isn’t feasible to work it out on your own, or you simply don’t feel comfortable with the degree of financial planning involved in the task, you should seek assistance from an experienced family law lawyer. Utah Code § 30-2-5 clearly states the following: “Neither spouse is personally liable for the separate debts, obligations, or liabilities of the other.” In other words, your personal debts are your own, and your spouse’s personal debts are their own. This applies to debts which were incurred both before and during the marriage. It...
Provo High School Hazing Leads to Felony Charges for Teen Wrestler

Provo High School Hazing Leads to Felony Charges for Teen Wrestler

Provo High School student Luis Antonio Castellanos has been charged with multiple misdemeanor and felony offenses in connection to an alleged wrestling team hazing incident occurring on Monday, October 26. On November 3, roughly a week after the incident, Castellanos was charged in 4th District Court with three counts of hazing (a Class B misdemeanor), one count of attempted forcible sexual abuse (a third degree felony), two counts of forcible sexual abuse (a second degree felony), and three counts of aggravated kidnapping (a first degree felony). Provo HS Student Charged with Sex Crimes, Kidnapping, Hazing in Initiation Ritual Castellanos was arrested by the Provo Police Department on Thursday, October 29, three days after the incident allegedly took place. The police affidavit reports that when the wrestling team’s practice session ended on October 26, Castellanos and a second, unnamed student were instructed by a third, unnamed student to pin several younger team members to the floor. During the 15 minutes which followed, Castellanos and the second student allegedly placed their bare buttocks over the face of an unnamed 15-year-old wrestler, repeating the process twice, leading to multiple counts of forcible sexual abuse. Because he struggled against Castellanos and the second student, a 16-year-old team member was released before any physical contact was made, leading to the single count of attempted forcible sexual abuse. Among the many sex crimes Utah differentiates between, Castellanos was charged with forcible sexual abuse because the offense is defined as “tak[ing] indecent liberties… with intent to cause substantial emotional or bodily pain… without the consent of the other.” Utah is one of 44 states to have...