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Can I be criminally charged in Utah if someone else claimed all the drugs?

Criminal police investigations in Utah sometimes involve cases where multiple people are confronted by police regarding drug possession or drug distribution.  On occasion, one person in the group will claim responsibility or ownership of all of the drugs, paraphernalia, or other incriminating evidence.  Sometimes this claim of responsibility is the truth.  But sometimes, a person will claim responsbility or ownership with  the hope of protecting the other individuals from being arrested or charged with a crime.  If you have been contacted by police in Utah, the best course of action is to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer before proceeding any further.

When confronted by police in regard to a criminal investigation in Utah, the safest general advice is to exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and to get a lawyer.  If you do choose to speak to a police officer, you should not lie.  Giving false information to a police officer can result in charges for giving false information, making a false police report, or for obstruction of justice.

When a person claims ownership or responsibility for drugs or other evidence of criminal conduct, it severely impacts the person's criminal defense case.  And under Utah law, it does not provide any guarantee that the police or prosecutor will not be able to build a criminal case against the other individuals.

Depending on what other evidence is obtained by police, Utah law may allow other individuals to be charged with a crime.  In a drug case, police may have evidence that one of the other individuals was making arrangements for someone to make a drug sale (distribution).  Other individuals could be suspected of and charged with attempting to purchase drugs (attempted possession).  Other individuals could be charged as an accomplice, and as such could face charges equal in severity to the person who claimed responsibility for the drugs.  Even if the evidence indicated only that an individual was acting as a lookout, a prosecutor could still file charges against that person as an accomplice.

Based in Salt Lake City, we provide services to clients throughout Utah.  Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation with Utah criminal defense lawyer Stephen Howard.


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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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