The Appellate Group

State v. Ames

State v. Ames, 2024 UT App 24 (Tenney, J.)

Criminal Law

Defendant was convicted of three counts of possessing a dangerous weapon as a restricted person and one count of possessing drug paraphernalia. Defendant raised two ineffective assistance of counsel claims on appeal. The Utah Court of Appeals reversed in part and affirmed in part, holding:

  • Counsel performed deficiently by failing to request an instruction for the term “serious bodily injury” related to the possession of dangerous weapon charges. Defendant was prejudiced by the deficient performance as to one charge but not the other two charges.
  • Counsel did not perform deficiently by failing to request a directed verdict as to the possession of drug paraphernalia count. 
  • Practice tip: In the context of Utah’s criminal code, the term “serious bodily injury” is a legal term of art that requires a specific jury instruction.
  • Practice tip: When evaluating a prejudice claim in the ineffective assistance context, courts make a counterfactual determination using the evidence available to it.

Read the full court opinion