In December, West Valley City disbanded its drug unit. The unit was eliminated after a police scandal erupted surrounding a November police shooting where an unarmed woman was killed. But, in March, the Salt Lake County district attorney dropped 19 criminal cases for a lack of credible evidence to support the charges. The 19 cases involved allegations of drug crimes, and the cases reportedly all were West Valley City investigations.
The use of dogs to find evidence has been the subject of dispute in this country. Law enforcement agencies in Utah, like everywhere in the country, use dogs to sniff cars during routine traffic stops-apparently hoping to find evidence of drugs or other forms of contraband.
Many criminal complaints involve search and seizure issues. It is important to note that a search is generally different from a seizure. Often, a search will follow a seizure, and the government must constitutionally justify each event. That may sound like legalese. To put it more plainly, police generally cannot justify a routine traffic stop without having a suspicion of some violation of the law. Similarly, police generally need a warrant to search a home.
A former NASCAR driver and a passenger in his car were arrested in Utah last week after an alleged car chase that spanned involving three states. Police claim that Tyler Walker failed to stop for law enforcement in Nevada around 7:30 a.m. January 30.
As several states move toward more relaxed laws concerning marijuana, others treat marijuana crimes harshly. When a marijuana offense is brought in federal court--the consequences can be severe. A California man has been convicted in federal court in Utah with unlawfully growing marijuana on federal land. The 46-year-old is scheduled for sentencing in April in St. George, Utah. The conviction carries a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 10 years, and faces up to life in federal prison.
A Cottonwood Heights, Utah man may be facing drug charges in two states after a traffic stop in the Midwest. Police in Illinois say that the authorities discovered marijuana in the Utah man's car during a routine traffic stop recently. Illinois authorities claim that the packaged pot appeared ready for distribution.
Police raided the home of a Magna, Utah man Friday after they received an anonymous tip that the man may have been engaged in criminal activity. Law enforcement acknowledges that the man has no criminal history. A police spokesman says that law enforcement received an anonymous tip about a month ago. It is not clear what the tipster believed was going on.
An investigation into an alleged OxyContin drug crime has resulted in a string of charges against a couple from Pleasant View, Utah. Authorities accuse the couple of child endangerment and felony level charges of dealing in material harmful to a minor. The string of charges does not only involve drug crimes, but also allegations that the couple had pornography sitting in open view in their home.
Last year, Utah lawmakers modified the state's statutes to make such synthetic substances known as "spice" or "bath salts" fall under those substances identified in the schedule of controlled substances. The governor signed the bill into law in February 2011, giving prosecutors more authority to seek drug charges based upon allegations involving the synthetic substances. Those charges could range from drug possession allegations to possession with intent to distribute drugs and more.
A recent incident in Utah has some residents with extensive criminal histories turning the tables on law enforcement; an ex-police detective is accused of wrongfully using an internal database to steal painkillers from individuals who have criminal records.