State v Jones

Jones was charged with official misconduct and witness tampering in an incident between his brother and the brother’s girlfriend where Jones did not give the girlfriend written notice of her rights under Utah’s domestic violence statute and told the brother falsely that the brother was passed out when Jones arrived at the scene. The magistrate refused to bind Jones over and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Court reversed. It held that magistrate and Court of Appeals erred in analyzing the facts for the most reasonable inference rather than whether reasonable belief existed that jones committed the crimes charged. It held that the state presented evidence supporting the official misconduct charge because Jones was a police officer who went to his brother’s house when the girlfriend called complaining about the brother’s conduct, after arriving at the scene Jones was told his brother had kicked girlfriend thus triggering the duties under the domestic abuse statute and girlfriend’s statement they couldn’t afford to have boyfriend go to jail again supported the intent element. The Court held witness tampering was supported by reasonable suspicion because Jones had reason to believe his brother had been arrested for domestic abuse, the arresting officer’s knew Jones was at the scene earlier in the evening and falsely told brother and eth jail staff that brother was asleep when Jones arrived on scene which a reasonable officer could infer was done to impede the investigation of Jones’ misconduct. The Court emphasized through its opinion that Jones may well be acquitted and there was evidence in support of acquittal. It also emphasized, however, that the role of magistrate at bind over is merely to confirm evidence exists to support reasonable belief a crime occurred and that low burden was met here.