The Utah Attorney General’s Office recently found itself on the winning side of a strange and extraordinary appeal case before the Utah Supreme Court.
Here are the cliff notes:
- Salt Lake PD stop a car with a revoked registration and find heroin and a .44 revolver in the car and arrest the driver. Defendant gives the name Bela Fritz.
- During the trial process, Fritz takes a plea deal and is sent to prison.
- Fritz arrives at the prison and the Corrections officer checking him in discovers the photo associated with Bela Fritz does not match the man standing in front of him.
- Upon questioning the defendant, the officer discovers that the defendant gave his brother’s name.
This was a first for Utah.
From there, the case went back to the prosecutors who then had to figure out what to do with a conviction of a man using a wrong name. The prosecutors went to the Third District Court seeking to undo a criminal conviction. The judge would not grant their request.
Enter the Utah Attorney General’s Criminal Appeals division who then took the case to the Utah Supreme Court. The Utah Supreme Court, in turn, told the Third District Court to revisit their decision stating, “A defendant’s misrepresentation of his or her identity is an illicit attempt to game the criminal justice system. It carries with it troubling consequences.”
Deseret News and ABC4 did a great job covering the story.
Click below for more.
Deseret News: Oh, brother: Offender posing as sibling fools Utah justice system, court says
ABC4: Appeal Case a First in Utah