Criminal Rights Affirmed by Utah Supreme Court

Utah Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Defendant

The Utah Supreme Court can rarely please everyone.  The Court often decides heated issues that will make some happy and others upset.  This trend continued this week with a new ruling by the Court that makes prosecutors unhappy while making a Utah criminal defense lawyer rejoice because criminal defendants are ensured more ways to protect themselves from the long arm of the state.

The Utah Supreme Court ruled this week in favor of a defense a woman tried to use in her criminal trial.  The woman is charged with a first-degree felony of attempted murder and a second-degree felony of criminal mischief.  In 2006 the woman attempted to run over her husband because of an argument about refinancing their home.  The man did not want to sign any documents she had to refinance the home.  The woman was very upset at her husband and left his workplace.  Four hours later she came back to his work and chased him in her SUV.  He was only on foot and attempted to run away from her.  She hit him twice with her vehicle and drove through a Salt Lake office building in the process.

Defendants Have Affirmative Defense Rights

The woman’s criminal defense attorney argued that she was under extreme emotional distress at the time.  Her attorney wanted to be able to use the defense of extreme emotional distress in the trial but his motion was denied by the trial court.  The Utah Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court, but the Supreme Court reversed.  It said the standard the lower courts required was wrong because the women had to “demonstrate a highly provocative and contemporaneous triggering event to obtain a jury instruction on the extreme emotional distress defense.”

The Court said the “standard imposes too high of a burden on defendants to assert this affirmative defense.”  The Court sent the case back to the lower courts to reconsider allowing jury instructions regarding such a defense.  With this defense, a jury could consider the woman committed a less serious offense than attempted murder.

Criminal Defense Lawyers Use Affirmative Defenses

This ruling by the Utah Supreme Court protects criminal rights more and helps to establish one more safeguard to protect the innocent and guilty, since all criminal suspects have rights.  If you have been charged with a crime, call a Utah criminal defense lawyer from Salt Lake based Salcido Law Firm.  A Utah criminal defense lawyer from Salcido Law Firm will evaluate your charges and fight hard for any possible defenses you are entitled to.  Call 801.618.1334 for your free consultation.

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