Utah lawmaker proposes intended use enough to rule a weapon ‘dangerous’

By Blakely Gull
Capital West News

SALT LAKE CITY — A few months after Utah’s Supreme Court ruled someone’s intent to use a dangerous weapon is a criminal offense, lawmaker Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, persuaded committee members to move forward with bill HB300.

“There is a logical fallacy that we have a standout alone crime of possession of a concealed dangerous weapon,” said Greene. “This eliminates that stand alone criminal offense.”

Greene told House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice committee members on Feb. 20 that a new amendment added to HB300 updates Utah’s current statute regarding firearm and dangerous weapons by complying with the court’s decision in Salt Lake City V. Miles.

The Utah Supreme Court found last October that the current statute didn’t clearly establish what a dangerous weapon was enough to convict Wade Miles for having a pocket-knife in his possession.

However, after ruling that Miles’s intended use was enough to convict him, Greene plans on “clean[ing] this up” by amending Utah’s current statute.

“Under our [current] statute a dangerous weapon only becomes a dangerous weapon with the way it was used,” said Greene. “Amendment number two [in HB300] addresses a concern that we may be creating a loop hole that people can run around with objects they intend to use as weapons.”

This newly added amendment, had committee members questioning whether law enforcement representatives response was needed before passing the bill to the floor.

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said, “I’m a little uncomfortable cause we got two substantial amendments that came in today and I’m looking at law enforcement out here and I know there was some discomfort with the bill in the beginning and they haven’t gotten time to review what these amendments will do.”

Ray proposed to the committee that they hold the bill to make it “clean” and “ready for the floor.”

In response to Ray’s motion to hold the bill, Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R- , said, “In looking at what these two amendments do it seems to me they do not change… what we started with. They refine it and go further to try and address the problems law enforcement would have. We should move forward.”

The majority of the committee agreed with Peterson. HB300 passed committee with a 5-4 ruling.

Background:

In Salt Lake City V. Miles, Miles, a homeless man at the time, had the pocket-knife wrapped in a jacket which was lying in a shopping cart. However, at trial, Miles supervisor testified Miles said “if “ he had a weapon he would “shoot and kill” him. The court used four factors in determining whether the pocket knife was a dangerous weapon.

  • the character of the instrument
  • the character of the wound produced
  • the manner in which the instrument was used
  • the other lawful purposes for which the instrument may be used.

The court ruled that “beyond a reasonable {Miles} committed the crime.”

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Categories: Uncategorized, Utah Legislature, Utah News

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