CRIMINAL LAW FAQ’S

Click on any of the following links to find out more about the answer to each Criminal Law FAQ:

Am I Eligible For An Expungement?

If you are interested in getting an expungement, you must first obtain a certificate of eligibility in accordance with standards provided by the Utah BCI.

More about it
The first part of answering this question is answering a more general question: what does “expunged” mean? The basic answer to this is getting a record cleared off to the point where seeking employment can be easier for a convicted individual. If your record is expunged, when a potential employer asks you if you have ever been convicted of a crime you can say “no.” The employer could go to the BCI (Bureau of Criminal Identification) and run a background check on you and the results would come back as a clean record.

However, getting an expungement does not mean it is forever off your criminal record. If you are subsequently charged with another crime, the judge will see your previous conviction(s) even if they have been expunged and they will be used against you.

Can A Felon Own A Gun?

No. In fact, a convicted felon not only can not own a gun but also can not possess a gun or weapon of any kind.

More about it
Strict Enforcements Against Felon In Possession Of A Firearm

The answer to “Can a felon own a gun?” No. In fact, a convicted felon not only can not own a gun but also can not possess a gun or weapon of any kind. This includes hunting guns, bow and arrows, kitchen knives and heirloom items. Even if your great-grandfather passed on to you a gun that has been in the family for years, if you are a convicted felon you cannot ever possess it. The consequences can mean additional felony charges, significant fines and jail time.

There are other individuals who are restricted from possessing a weapon or firearm, including:

  • The criminally insane
  • Illegal immigrants
  • Anyone dishonorably discharged by the military
  • Those convicted of certain misdemeanors (i.e., domestic violence)
  • Those convicted of certain crimes of violence (i.e., rape, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, child abuse)
  • Those who are caught in possession of illegal drugs

If you fall into any of these classes of individuals who are prohibited from owning a weapon, discuss your rights with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer. My name is Catherine Cleveland. With more than a decade of criminal defense experience, I can discuss the specifics of your case and how to avoid such violations.

Can Children Sexually Abuse Other Children?

The answer shockingly enough is yes. This actually occurs more often than people may think. If your child is accused of sexually abusing another child, seek legal representation as soon as possible.

More about it
Can children be tried as adults? The answer is yes. There are those circumstances in which an alleged crime is so serious that a minor can be tried in adult court. These are usually cases of minors who are closer to the age of majority (i.e., 16 or 17 years of age). The prosecutor from the District Attorney’s Office will request a diversion to adult court. When a case gets moved from juvenile court to adult court, the situation is entirely changed and the consequences are even more serious. This is because juvenile court is more focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment, while adult court is harsher.

Charges that are usually brought to adult court are very serious and include:

  • Murder
  • Aggravated murder
  • Rape
  • Rape of another child
  • Sexual assault
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Aggravated kidnapping

If your child is facing a serious charge, there is a great potential the prosecution will want to move the case to adult court. Seek the help of an attorney highly skilled and experienced in both juvenile court and adult court. My name is Catherine Cleveland. With more than a decade of experience, I have handled thousands of criminal defense cases in Utah both in juvenile and adult court. Let me help you seek a better future for your child by providing aggressive criminal defense.

Can I Press Charges?

The answer is no. Only the State of Utah can file charges against individuals for crimes as it represents the state and interest of its citizens. The District Attorney (D.A.) will be the one to determine whether charges should be filed and the merits of a criminal case.

More about it
One of the most common questions asked by people is can I press charges? The answer is no. Only the state of Utah can file charges against individuals for crimes as it represents the state and interest of its citizens. The District Attorney (D.A.) will be the one to determine whether charges should be filed and the merits of a criminal case. If you feel someone has violated your rights or has broken the law and you yourself (as the plaintiff) want to press criminal charges, you must seek assistance from the District Attorney’s Office.

However, if you are actually facing a criminal charge yourself, that is a different story. Individuals who are being investigated for, charged with or have already been arrested for a crime in the state of Utah should seek Criminal Defense Overview representation immediately. My name is Catherine Cleveland, and I have more than 15 years of experience to represent people charged with crimes in Utah Courts. If you need criminal defense representation, seek my help today.

Time is of the essence when it comes to criminal charges. The sooner you can contact me, the sooner I can start working on your case. In some situations, I can stop charges from being filed all together. The decision ultimately lies with you as to how fast you can start defending your rights.

How Do Drug Charges Affect My Student Loans?

If you are convicted of a drug crime you are ineligible for federal student loans anywhere from one to two years from the date of the conviction. If you are convicted a third time, you are indefinitely ineligible.

More about it
How do drug charges affect my student loans? If you are convicted of a drug crime, you are ineligible for federal student loans anywhere from one to two years from the date of the conviction. If you are convicted a third time, you are indefinitely ineligible. As you can see, being convicted of a drug crime has serious and even permanent implications on your federal student loans.

If you already have federal student loans and are convicted of a drug crime, you must immediately provide notice to your financial aid department. Your loan will be taken away, and you will be responsible for paying back any money already received since the date of conviction.

Federal student loans include:

  • Pell Grants
  • Stafford Loans
  • Federal PLUS Loans
  • Work Study Loans
  • Perkins Loans

Any student who has been convicted of a drug crime or is facing drug charges needs to seek criminal defense representation immediately. The implications on your federal student loans are serious. As a criminal defense attorney with more than 15 years of experience, I can help you avoid a conviction and the loss of your federal student aid. In some cases, rehabilitation programs can be completed to help you gain eligibility.

How Do I Find Out If I Have A Warrant?

You should contact your local clerk of court (in any relevant counties you may believe there is a warrant out for your arrest). You can also look at the Utah.gov website and search under your name.

More about it
Many people are completely unaware they have a bench warrant out for their arrest. But how do I find out if I have a warrant? You should contact your local clerk of court (in any relevant counties you may believe there is a warrant out for your arrest). You can also look at the Utah.gov website and search under your name. You can also call the Utah BIC (Bureau of Criminal Investigation) 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 801-965-4445.

It is critical you find out this information if there is a warrant out for your arrest. This is because every warrant has an underlying charge or charges that must be defended.

For assistance with finding out if you have a warrant and handling any criminal charges as a result of the warrant, seek my legal representation as soon as possible. My name is Catherine Cleveland. With more than 15 years of experience, I provide my clients with the aggressive criminal defense representation they need. Contact me to schedule your free phone consultation.

Recalling A Warrant

Once you find out you have a warrant, you must pay the bail amount in full in order to get it recalled. Once your warrant is recalled, the underlying criminal issue must be addressed. I represent my clients in all types of criminal matters, including:

  • Juvenile offenses — theft, assault, sex crimes and delinquency
  • Violent crime charges — murder, assault, domestic violence and gun charges
  • Sex offenses — rape, assault of a child, illegal pornography and Internet offenses
  • Theft and fraud — shoplifting, fraud and white collar crimes
  • Federal offenses — drug charges, white collar crimes and more

How Long Does A Felony Stay On Your Record?

The answer is forever unless you can get it expunged. However, many felonies are not even eligible for expungement, including first-degree felonies, violent felonies and felony DUIs.

More about it
Many clients ask me: How long does a felony stay on your record? The answer is forever unless you can get it expunged. However, many felonies are not even eligible for expungement, including first-degree felonies, violent felonies and felony DUIs. If you have been convicted of more than two felonies (each on separate criminal episodes) you are ineligible for expungement. This just shows the seriousness of a felony conviction.

If you have been convicted of a felony that is not excluded from eligibility, you still have to wait seven years before you can seek a certificate of eligibility for expungement by the Utah BCI. I can help you seek an expungement once you are eligible and offer a flat fee of $1,000. The benefits of a successful expungement are great as this can help with employment opportunities. Any potential employer could run a BCI background check on you and the results would come back clean. In addition, if directly asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can answer “no.”

Contact me at Catherine Cleveland, P.C., for more information about expungements.

If you have been charged with a felony in Utah, as you can see the consequences are very serious. You have even more reason to seek my experienced criminal defense representation immediately. The sooner we can start working on your case the more likely you can have a successful outcome.

Is My Case Criminal Or Civil?

Criminal cases are those where your life or liberty is in jeopardy. In other words your freedom is at stake.

More about it
I very often get calls asking: Is my case criminal or civil? Here is a general rule to follow:

  • If it has to do with life or liberty, it is criminal.
  • If it has to do with money, it is civil.

Criminal cases are those where your life or liberty is in jeopardy. In other words your freedom is at stake. These are cases where the state of Utah is involved and has pressed charges against you. The District Attorney’s Office represents the citizens of Utah. Anytime they believe the criminal code has been violated, they press charges against the alleged defendant. The consequence can be fines, probation and incarceration — all having to do with your life or liberty. Do not confuse having to pay a fine as meaning it is a civil case.

Civil cases are those that do not involve the government acting on behalf of its citizens. An individual can make a civil claim against another citizen, corporation, business entity or even the government itself. These types of claims are seeking compensation (money) for alleged damages due to a breached duty. Examples of civil suits include: personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, business torts, and employment law actions.

Burden Of Proof

The burden of proof is always higher in criminal cases. The state always has the burden of proving that beyond a reasonable doubt a crime was committed. The standard of proof is higher because someone’s life or liberty is at stake.

Essentially, if you have been charged with a crime by the state of Utah, your case is a criminal case and requires experienced criminal defense representation. My name is Catherine Cleveland and I can provide just that using my more than 15 years of experience.

Is My Charge Federal Or State?

This is a very complicated matter that involves constitutional issues. Some charges can be brought in state court, federal court or in both court systems. However, the bottom line is that in general, only circumstances involving “interstate commerce” are considered federal charges.

More about it
This is a very complicated matter that involves constitutional issues. Some charges can be brought in state court, federal court or in both court systems. However, the bottom line is that in general, only circumstances involving “interstate commerce” are considered federal charges. Interstate commerce is the trade, traffic or transportation between states. For example, if a felon was in possession of a gun and crossed states lines from Utah into Nevada to buy the gun, this is involving interstate commerce. The charge felon in possession of a firearm in this case could be brought in federal court. Keep in mind this is a simplified example and some situations can become very complex, as there are years of Supreme Court authority that determine this often debated issue.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

The main concern with federal vs. state charges is the very stringent Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Unlike in state court where there is often more room for discretion by judges, federal sentencing guidelines are strict. In fact, federal judges for the most part, do not deviate from them.

In addition, there are no federal prisons in Utah. That means that if you are convicted of a federal crime in Utah, you will not be able to stay in Utah. You will be transferred to a federal penitentiary outside of Utah away from your family. The consequences of a federal crime are very serious and require expert criminal defense.

I can provide just that. Let me discuss with you your particular crime and whether it will be tried in state or federal court. If possible, I will seek to have the charges filed in state court rather than federal court.

What Is Juvenile Court?

Juvenile courts in Utah have jurisdiction of all minors under the age of 18 who have committed a crime. Juvenile courts are very different from adult courts. In fact, juvenile court in Utah is based on a civil system instead of a criminal system. Rather than having the purpose of punishment the focus is on rehabilitation.

More about it
What is juvenile court? Juvenile courts in Utah have jurisdiction of all minors under the age of 18 who have committed a crime. Juvenile courts are very different from adult courts. In fact, juvenile court in Utah is based on a civil system instead of a criminal system. Rather than having the purpose of punishment, the focus is on rehabilitation.

There are other differences between adult court and juvenile court, including:

  • Most hearings are closed to the public in order to respect the privacy of the minor.
  • There is no right to request a jury trial.
  • There is no option to post bail to leave detention.
  • Probation officers and intake employees are considered judicial branch employees.
  • For more information, visit the Utah State Court’s website on juvenile court.

Rights In Juvenile Court

According to the Utah State Court’s website, juvenile rights in court are:

  1. The right to appear in person to defend yourself.
  2. The right to a lawyer to represent you. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will give you a free lawyer.
  3. The right to know the state’s accusations against you.
  4. The right against self-incrimination.
  5. The right to a speedy trial and for time to prepare a defense. The court has to tell you about any court hearings that involve you.
  6. The right for you and any witness to tell your side of the story.
  7. The right to ask questions of the people accusing you.
  8. The right to an appeal — to ask a higher court to decide whether or not your judge was right if he or she found you guilty.

What Is Juvenile Delinquency?

Juvenile delinquency is when a minor has committed an act that is a crime. They are almost always tried in juvenile court, although in cases of extreme crimes they can be tried as an adult.

More about it
What is juvenile delinquency? Juvenile delinquency is when a minor has committed an act that is a crime. They are almost always tried in juvenile court, although in cases of extreme crimes they can be tried as an adult. If your minor child is a juvenile delinquent, you want to start being proactive and help in preventing him or her from being charged in the future. When a juvenile delinquent has a record with multiple crimes, the juvenile court judge will not be as lenient. The judge may come down much harder on sentencing.

That is why you need my legal representation. My name is Catherine Cleveland. As an attorney with more than 15 years of experience, I have represented many juveniles in the juvenile court systems here in Utah. I believe in compassionate representation as these are still children. They deserve to be helped not just within the legal system but given all the necessary counseling and rehabilitation they need. I will see to it that your child gets on the right path. This starts with successful defense representation.

Delinquency Cases

Common juvenile delinquency charges involve:

  • Class A misdemeanors and felonies
  • Class B or class C misdemeanors and infractions
  • Alcohol and tobacco violations
  • Violations of curfew laws
  • Class B misdemeanors or lesser traffic violations (minors under 16)
    • For more information, visit the Utah State Court’s website on juvenile court.

What Offenses Are Subject To Sex Offender Registration?

Individuals who have been accused of a sex crime are often concerned about the potential of being on the sex offender registry. This is because being on the sex offender registry carries with it a very negative social stigma that can affect a person for the rest of his or her life. That is why clients facing sex crimes often ask: What offenses are subject to sex offender registration?

More about it
According to Utah Cod. Ann. § 77-27-21.5, and the Utah Department of Corrections’ website, the following offenses are subject to sex offender registration (including attempt, solicitation or conspiracy of any of the felonies listed below):

  • Kidnapping
  • Child kidnapping
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • A felony or class A misdemeanor violation of enticing a minor
  • A felony violation of unlawful sexual activity with a minor
  • Sexual abuse of a minor
  • Unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17-year old
  • Rape
  • Rape of a child
  • Object rape
  • Object rape of a child
  • A felony violation of forcible sodomy
  • Forcible sexual abuse
  • Sexual abuse of a child or aggravated sexual abuse of a child
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Sexual exploitation of a minor
  • Incest
  • Lewdness (four convictions)
  • Sexual battery (four convictions)
  • Lewdness involving a child
  • Aggravated exploitation of prostitution
  • Aggravated human trafficking
  • Sexual exploitation of a vulnerable adult
  • Custodial sexual relations (under age of 18)
  • A felony or class A misdemeanor violation of voyeurism
  • Sodomy of a child

If you are facing any of these charges, seek my experienced criminal defense representation immediately. You face the probability of 15 years or even a lifetime on the sex offender registry.

You should also be aware of how stringent the laws have become. You must now report to the sex offender registry office twice a year (once on your birthday and six months after that). If you fail to do so, you will receive an automatic 90 days in jail and there is no possible waiver.

What Sex Crimes Have Mandatory Minimum Sentencing In Utah?

Mandatory minimum sentencing is described under Utah Cod. Ann. § 76-3-406 as crimes for which probation, suspension of sentence, lower category of offense or hospitalization may not be granted.

More about it
Mandatory minimum sentencing is described under Utah Cod. Ann. § 76-3-406 as crimes for which probation, suspension of sentence, lower category of offense or hospitalization may not be granted. These crimes include (also non-sexual offenses):

  • Aggravated murder
  • Murder
  • Child kidnapping
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Rape if caused serious bodily injury or defendant previously convicted of a grievous sexual offense
  • Rape of a child
  • Object rape of a child
  • Sodomy on a child
  • Forcible sexual abuse under certain circumstances
  • Aggravated sexual abuse of a child
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Attempt to commit rape of a child, object rape of a child or sodomy on a child

The heightened penalties were enforced in 2007 by the Utah Legislature due to Jessica’s Law. This was a case involving a young girl in Florida sexually assaulted and murdered by a previously convicted sex offender. In response to public outrage, Florida legislatures passed stringent mandatory minimum sentencing for certain sex crimes. Many states have since followed, including Utah.

What Should I Do If I’m Accused Of Child Abuse?

If you are being accused of child abuse or child molestation, it is absolutely critical that you not say anything to police or investigators. Many times a detective may call the alleged defendant and say they are simply “trying to get your side of the story.” What they are really doing is building a case against you.

More about it
If you are being accused of child abuse or child molestation, it is absolutely critical that you not say anything to police or investigators. Many times a detective may call the alleged defendant and say they are simply “trying to get your side of the story.” What they are really doing is building a case against you. You may not think what you divulge to investigators is incriminating but it can be.

The next best thing you can do for yourself is seek experienced legal counsel immediately. That way your criminal defense attorney can immediately start protecting your rights and advising you. My name is Catherine Cleveland. As a criminal defense attorney with more than a decade of experience, I have extensive knowledge and skills when it comes to child abuse cases. If you have been accused of child abuse or child molestation, please contact me as soon as possible. I offer free phone consultations. Schedule yours today.

Parental Alienation

Even if you are not facing charges, it is extremely important you not speak to investigators and seek my counsel. You should also avoid being alone with any child at this point. This means any child and most certainly your accuser. This is to avoid any other accusations as a child may be convinced to make false allegations against you.

If you are the parent of the accuser, you may feel you are being alienated from your child. The other party may try to “brainwash” your child into thinking things about you that are not true. Even if this is the case, do not give them anymore room to make false accusations against you. Stay the course and seek legal defense now.