Thatcher Proposes Legislation to Decriminalize Many Offenses

Utah State Capitol 18Sen. Daniel Thatcher has unveiled a massive bill that does one simple thing – get rid of nearly every class C misdemeanor in the state.

 
SB187 reclassifies the vast majority of those criminal offenses as infractions. They’re still illegal, but don’t carry the threat of jail time.
 
Thatcher, R-West Valley City, says this reclassification has been a long time coming.
 
“The bottom line is we’ve gone through and looked at every class C misdemeanor in the state and evaluated whether or not it was appropriate to arrest someone and incarcerate them for that offense,” he explained. “Basically anything that isn’t actually a public safety issue will no longer be a crime. You can still be cited, but it’s not criminal.”
 
Thatcher likes to reel off many offenses that used to be punishable by jail time that will be no longer under his legislation.
 
“Did you know you could be arrested for failure to notify the DMV within 30 days of a move? I don’t think anyone did, and I don’t think it’s ever happened. The question we need to ask is should we be able to threaten something we don’t think is an appropriate punishment?”
 
Thatcher ticks off other things he feels it’s ridiculous are criminal offenses, such as failing to fill out the proper notices about the bow number on a boat.
 
“We had one city that was citing people under the provision for failing to display properly license plate numbers. They were issuing class C misdemeanors to people for having crooked stickers on their license plates.”
 
The infractions can still carry a fine, but failure to pay those fines would be a civil, not criminal matter.
 
“Our criminal justice system should be focused on actual public safety, not micromanaging people,” says Thatcher.