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Pokemon GO App Leads to Trespassing Arrests, Criminal Charges for Players in Utah

Pokemon GO App Leads to Trespassing Arrests, Criminal Charges for Players in Utah

The Pokémon GO app for iPhone and Android became an overnight sensation after its release on July 6, racking up millions of downloads in a matter of days.  The game merges real life with virtual reality, steering players toward virtual Pokémon “located” at physical sites around their cities and neighborhoods.  Unfortunately, some of these sites happen to be people’s homes and backyards, leading to a spate of trespassing charges in Utah and across the U.S. Police Departments in Utah, Across U.S. Arresting Pokemon GO Fans for Trespassing Fans love Pokémon GO for its nostalgic nod to the craze that “captured” America during the nineties. However, it hasn’t all been fun and games.  Just ask Ethan Goodwin, a 17-year-old resident of Tremonton, Box Elder County, who received a ticket for trespassing in a warehouse on his quest to catch more Pokémon. “I wouldn’t say it was worth it,” the Utah teen said, “but I would say I’m glad I have the Pokémon I have now.  It’s a dumb game,” Goodwin added, “really, really stupid.” Yet Goodwin is lucky.  Trespassing is a criminal offense under state law, which, under Utah Code § 76-6-206, makes criminal trespass a Class B or, when the property is somebody’s home, even a Class A misdemeanor — the most serious type of misdemeanor that exists within Utah’s system for classifying crimes.  Had Goodwin been prosecuted and sentenced instead of receiving a ticket, he could have been facing fines as great as $2,500, if the property was a dwelling instead of a warehouse.  Had he been just a year older, he could have even been jailed for...
Utah Police Investigate Deadly Shootings in Midvale and Salt Lake City, 1 Victim Killed

Utah Police Investigate Deadly Shootings in Midvale and Salt Lake City, 1 Victim Killed

Utah police are investigating the motives behind a deadly shooting that erupted Monday night in Midvale, Salt Lake County, leaving one victim dead.  Investigators have classified the killing as a homicide, but are still piecing together details to shed more light on the crime.  A second investigation is underway into a Salt Lake City shooting that left one man injured during a Pioneer Day fireworks display in Liberty Park.  Both shootings occurred on the same night, separated by only an hour. Shooter in Midvale, Utah Homicide May Have Acted in Self-Defense Shots rang out at 7940 South State Street in Midvale, near Bumblebee’s BBQ & Grill, on the night of Monday, July 25 just before 9:00 P.M.  The shooting killed one man, later identified by police as 52-year-old Michael Anderson. “Unified Police received a call of shots fired,” said Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder, “and upon arrival, we discovered a male, deceased.” According to Unified Police Det. Ken Hansen, Anderson was arguing with another man, who has not been publicly identified but is currently in police custody, just before the shooting occurred.  Police are still in the process of identifying the shooter’s motive, and are investigating the possibility that he acted in self-defense. As of Tuesday, July 26, it is uncertain whether the man, who was reported to be cooperative with police, will be jailed.  However, Sheriff Winder told Gephardt Daily on Tuesday that he believed arrest to be “imminent.”  The direction of the case should be determined in the days to come, as state law prohibits police from holding suspects in custody for longer than 72 hours...
ACLU Sues Utah, Alleges State’s Public Defender System is Unconstitutional

ACLU Sues Utah, Alleges State’s Public Defender System is Unconstitutional

  Back in 2014, we wrote a blog post exploring the drawbacks of being represented by a public defender, or court-appointed attorney.  While few would argue that most public defenders are driven and hard-working, it’s impossible to deny the logistical challenges posed by tight funding and crushing caseloads — challenges which, unfortunately, often end up trickling down to the defendant.  Like those in other states before it, Utah’s perpetually strained public defender system reached a breaking point last month, when the American Civil Liberties Union — a century-old non-profit organization dedicated to protecting Americans’ Constitutional rights — filed a lawsuit alleging systemic failure to effectively represent indigent defendants. ACLU: Public Defenders in Utah Failing to Uphold Defendants’ Sixth Amendment Rights This is not the first time a lawsuit has been filed over the shortcomings of the public defender system, and, unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last.  In 2008, public defenders in Miami filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida for the right to turn down new cases, joining a chorus of similar lawsuits unfolding around the same time in Arizona, Maryland, Minnesota, and Tennessee.  Earlier this year, the ACLU sued the public defender’s office in New Orleans after the latter — whose budget has been slashed by a third since 2012, shrinking from more than $9 million to just $6 million — also began declining new cases, citing workloads so heavy that literally less than 10 minutes — seven, to be exact — were left to prepare for each case on average. The New Orleans lawsuit is now replaying in Utah, whose languishing public defender system came...
What is the Difference Between Getting Charged with Trespassing and Burglary in Utah?

What is the Difference Between Getting Charged with Trespassing and Burglary in Utah?

Burglary and trespassing are both serious crimes that involve unlawfully entering another person’s property.  In fact, they are even defined under the same part of Utah’s criminal code.  As a result, there is sometimes confusion over what it means to be charged with either offense.  In this article, Utah trespassing lawyer Darwin Overson explains the legal nuances that separate these similar but separate property crimes.  If you or one of your family members has been charged with either offense, it is vitally important that you have a clear understanding of the acts you are being accused of committing. When Would a Defendant Be Charged with Burglary Instead of Trespassing? Burglary or criminal trespass can be charged when a person “enters or remains unlawfully on property.”  Which offense the person gets charged with depends on five factors: Whether the property was a building. Trespassing covers all types of property, including parking lots, school playgrounds, farms, reservoirs, cemeteries, industrial parks, yards, homes, and commercial buildings.  By comparison, burglary exclusively involves buildings, whether commercial or residential. Whether the person intends to commit a crime on the property. Burglary or trespassing may be charged when someone enters a property or building with intent to commit a crime.  However, trespassing can also be charged for entering a property with intent to “cause annoyance or injury,” or if the person recklessly disregards the possibility that “his [or her] presence will cause fear for the safety of another.” What sort of crime the person intended to commit. Entering a property or building with intent to commit a misdemeanor is trespassing, with some exceptions.  It is burglary...
Lisa Steed Update: UHP Trooper Sued for Civil Rights Violations in Utah DUI Arrests

Lisa Steed Update: UHP Trooper Sued for Civil Rights Violations in Utah DUI Arrests

  We first covered the story of Lisa Steed, a former Utah Highway Patrol trooper, in 2013.  At the time, Steed was under investigation for a string of allegedly unlawful DUI arrests, with one attorney estimating that as many as 2,000 drivers could have been wrongfully arrested, or otherwise subjected to Constitutional rights violations, by the once-renowned trooper.  However, Steed’s fate remained unclear.  Now, important legal developments have shifted the course of this ongoing story.  Salt Lake City DUI lawyer Darwin Overson has the full report. UHP Trooper Lisa Steed to Face Civil Lawsuit in Farmington, Utah In 2007, Lisa Steed was named Utah Highway Patrol “Trooper of the Year” for an exemplary record of DUI arrests.  But in 2012, just a few short years later, Steed was fired from the department for allegedly violating drivers’ legal rights when conducting stops for DUI in Utah.  Dash-cam footage appeared to show Steed engaging in various forms of misconduct, such as performing field sobriety tests off-camera and inaccurately describing sober drivers as intoxicated in written reports.  However, Utah Attorney General’s office spokesperson Paul Murphy did not believe there was sufficient evidence to support the allegations against Steed, stating, “We think the lawsuit is completely without merit and highly doubt it will ever be certified as a class action lawsuit.” Murphy was correct to guess that Steed would not face a class action, in which multiple plaintiffs allege misconduct by a common defendant.  In 2012, Second District Judge Michael Allphin denied the suit class action status, explaining that the circumstances and details of the arrests involved were too dissimilar. However, despite the...
How Does the Utah Board of Pardons Decide Which Inmates Qualify for Parole?

How Does the Utah Board of Pardons Decide Which Inmates Qualify for Parole?

Not all inmates in Utah qualify for parole, or early release from prison.  In this article, Salt Lake City parole violation lawyer Darwin Overson explains how the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole (BOPP) makes decisions about which inmates should be granted parole – and when parole should be denied. How the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole Evaluates Inmates for Release from Prison The BOPP’s decision-making process weighs five sentencing variables: Total (“aggregate”) sentence. The BOPP adds up all of the sentences that were ordered by the court, which are explained in our article on Utah criminal sentencing guidelines.  For example, let’s say a defendant has been sentenced for two second degree felonies, such as robbery and carrying a concealed firearm.  In Utah, second degree felonies carry a minimum sentence of one year and a maximum sentence of 15 years.  Therefore, the total sentence would range from two years (two one-year sentences) to 30 years (two 15-year sentences). Credit for time served (CTS). The BOPP counts time the inmate served in custody before the current sentence.  For example, let’s say an inmate comes to prison on March 1, but has already accumulated 90 days of CTS.  The BOPP would then move the inmate’s start date back by 90 days to January 1 to reflect CTS. When the sentence expires. By using the total sentence and start date described above, the BOPP is able to determine an expiration date for the sentence – in other words, the maximum possible duration of all of the sentences the inmate has received. The maximum sentence. Under state law, inmates are required to...
Can You Be Sent Back to Jail for a Parole Violation in Utah?

Can You Be Sent Back to Jail for a Parole Violation in Utah?

When an inmate in Utah is granted parole, or early release from prison, he or she is required to comply with certain rules and conditions, similar to a person on probation.  As Salt Lake City parole violation lawyer Darwin Overson explains in this article, parolees who violate their conditions of release can face serious criminal consequences – including the possibility of being reincarcerated. Utah Parole Violation Consequences Can Include Reincarceration in Prison Conditions of parole are determined and enforced by the Utah Department of Corrections and the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole (BOPP).  Different conditions apply to different inmates, depending on factors like the nature and severity of the offense.  For example, stricter standards apply to inmates who were convicted of sex crimes, with the strictest conditions applying to sex offenders convicted of crimes against minors, such as sexual abuse of a minor or unlawful sexual activity with a minor.  Generally speaking, standard conditions of parole include remaining in Utah, obeying a curfew, and avoiding criminal activity, among other requirements. If a parolee violates these or other conditions of parole, he or she may face severe penalties, depending on factors like the nature and seriousness of the violation.  If the violation is minor, the BOPP may allow the offender to continue with parole – albeit subject to harsher requirements – which is called an “alternative event.”  However, if the violation is serious, a warrant may be issued for the parolee’s arrest.  In other words, the parolee will be taken back to prison. In fact, the majority of Utah’s inmates are incarcerated due to parole (and probation) violations –...
How Inmates Should Prepare for a Hearing Before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole

How Inmates Should Prepare for a Hearing Before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole

Inmates who have been incarcerated for certain felonies, such as robbery in Utah, may be eligible for parole, which is early release from prison.  Parole is granted on a case-by-case basis by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole (BOPP), which will schedule a hearing with the inmate to evaluate his or her eligibility.  The better an inmate is prepared for their parole hearing, the better chance they will have of being released early from prison.  This article will help give you an idea of what types of questions your incarcerated loved one should expect at their Utah parole hearing. Utah Board of Parole Questions for Inmates Requesting Release from Prison Before your incarcerated family member’s parole hearing takes place, he or she will be required to fill out a detailed packet with questions about the offense, its repercussions, and his or her plans for reintegrating back into society after being released from prison.  These questions will be discussed in detail at the parole hearing in order for the BOPP to make a determination about whether parole should be granted or denied. To provide a few examples, your loved one should expect to discuss questions about: Basic background information. This includes information about the inmate’s: Conviction and sentence. Family background and life at home. Medical conditions and treatment (where applicable). Plans after being paroled, including where he or she intends to live, and what sort of job skills he or she will use to seek out employment. Case Action Planning (CAP). While an inmate is incarcerated, his or her needs for successful rehabilitation will be assessed by the Department...
How Juveniles Are Sentenced for Misdemeanor DUI in Utah

How Juveniles Are Sentenced for Misdemeanor DUI in Utah

As a Salt Lake City juvenile defense lawyer, driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most common crimes Darwin Overson sees minors get charged with.  While Utah’s juvenile courts are civil instead of criminal, the penalties for underage DUI can still be severe.  If your son or daughter is found guilty of DUI in Utah, the judge will refer to the sentencing guidelines described in this article when determining what the punishment should be.   How Are Minors Sentenced for Driving Under the Influence in Utah? When an adult commits a crime, the case is heard in: Justice court, if it is a Class B or Class C misdemeanor. District court, if it is a Class A misdemeanor or any type of felony. Minors are typically tried in juvenile courts, though there are exceptions when a juvenile is charged with a felony.  If a juvenile defendant is found guilty, he or she will be adjudicated delinquent and sentenced accordingly. The sentence may involve a combination of fines, community service, supervised probation, mandatory counseling for substance abuse, and other consequences.  To guide sentencing determinations, Utah’s juvenile judges refer to an alcohol offense sentencing matrix, which establishes two sets of consequences for underage DUI: consequences the judge can impose, and consequences the judge will impose.  These consequences are outlined below. Utah Juvenile Penalties: Consequences of Intoxicated Driving Misdemeanors The following penalties deal with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, which is a criminal offense under Utah Code § 41-6a-502.  For information about penalties for other alcohol-related offenses, such as purchasing alcohol while under age 21 or using...
Utah Juvenile Sentencing Guidelines for Underage Drinking and Alcohol Misdemeanors

Utah Juvenile Sentencing Guidelines for Underage Drinking and Alcohol Misdemeanors

We previously wrote about Utah criminal sentencing guidelines with a focus on convicted adult defendants.  In this article, we’ll be shifting our focus to review how juveniles are sentenced for criminal offenses involving alcohol in Utah. How Judges Use Sentencing Guidelines for Minors Before we can talk about Utah’s juvenile sentencing guidelines, we need to back up and explain some general information about juvenile court. When an adult is criminally charged, his or her case will be heard in the appropriate justice court (for Class B and Class C misdemeanors) or district court (for Class A misdemeanors and all types of felonies).  You can find more information about these types of courts in our article on where to go to criminal court in Salt Lake County. An adult defendant who pleads or is found guilty will be convicted and sentenced to criminal penalties, which might include incarceration in jail or prison depending on factors like the nature of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history. When a juvenile is charged with a crime, he or she will typically go to a juvenile court.  (There are a few exceptions involving serious crimes, which you can read more about in our article on what happens when a juvenile is charged with a felony.)  Unlike adult courts, juvenile courts are civil, not criminal.  If a juvenile is found guilty, he or she will be “adjudicated delinquent” instead of being convicted, unless the case is tried in adult court.  Use our reference guide to find a juvenile court in Salt Lake County. Juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent cannot be sent to prison to...