Juvenile Defense History

Simms, on the topic of  Juvenile Defense Misc

Everyone has a right to legal counsel when facing criminal charges and Utah minors have the option to be represented by a juvenile defense attorney who can advocate specifically for them. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, “If [youth] come into contact with the juvenile justice system, the contact should be rare, fair, and beneficial to them.” This wasn’t always the case however.

One law, one court for all

Juvenile Defense History

Photo by: Children’s Bureau Centennial

Prior to the 1900’s, children as young as seven years old were tried as adults and either executed by methods such as hanging or thrown into prison with adult offenders . Fortunately, the United States realized by the end of the 19th century that certain norms such as capital punishment for school aged children needed to change. When society eventually grasped the concept that children and teens were not merely small adults, it was finally understood that there was a need for a different justice system to specialize in cases regarding minors. This also included designating separate facilities to house juvenile offenders during treatment instead of hurling them into adult prison. For this cause, the juvenile court system was established in 1899 with a focus on rehabilitation of the youth.

Due process

Over nearly seven decades, numerous cases in these new juvenile courts were in question due to unfair proceedings. In many instances, judges would place minors in a youth home to live out their childhood without valid evidence supporting crimes. Additionally the children and teens were not able to argue with the sentencing. 68 years after establishing the juvenile court system following a case known as In re Gault, it was recognized that the youth should probably be allowed the right to counsel by a juvenile defense attorney as well as fair court proceedings that are defined in the 5th and 14th Amendments.

Juvenile Defense

Juvenile Defense

Photo by: Philippe Put

By the 1970’s children and teens were finally being given a voice in court. With a juvenile defense attorney advocating in their behalf, the youth now had someone that was loyal to them and who would look out for the minor’s best interest; an juvenile defense attorney who understood the proceedings and could counsel the families of the young clients on what actions to take in court. At last the youth’s contact with the juvenile justice system could be “rare, fair, and beneficial to them.”

Holiday Parties Are Not the Exception to Minor Consumption Laws

Simms, on the topic of  Alcohol

Children and young adults under the age of 21 are not permitted to consume alcohol in Utah, but when the holiday parties roll around, parents are more likely to make exceptions to minor consumption laws.

Momentary lapse in judgement

Minor Consumption

Photo by: Sam Howzit

Several people experience instances around the holidays where their common sense goes on hiatus. Frequently these lapses in judgement arise during holiday shopping when balances of bank accounts are temporarily forgotten. Sometimes a mindless moment can ensue which brings the risk of criminal charges. An example of this is when a parent decides to let their teenager taste champagne or wine at a family party.

Not a drop

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are typical times when parents may loosen up on rules and let their teenagers have “just a sip” of wine or champagne. While not hard liquor, these party drinks are still alcohol and against the law for minor consumption.
Utah Code 32B-4-409 states “it is unlawful for a minor to:

a) Purchase an alcoholic product;
b) Attempt to purchase an alcoholic product;
c) Solicit another person to purchase an alcoholic product;
d) Possess an alcoholic product;
e) Consume an alcoholic product; or
f) Have measurable blood, breath, or urine alcohol concentration in the minor’s body.”

The only exceptions to Utah’s minor consumption laws are for medical reasons for those 18 and older when alcohol is prescribed or for religious purposes. Not only can those under 21 face charges for minor consumption, the adults who furnish the minors with alcohol can face charges too.

Sparkling juice

If giving a minor a glass of bubbly to celebrate the holidays is something that a parent really wants to do, there are substitutions such as sparkling juices that can be used instead. That way the occasion is still marked with a celebratory drink but no laws are broken in the process. For parents who have supplied minors with alcohol and who may be facing charges along with their children, contact a criminal defense attorney who handles adult as well as juvenile cases.

Undetected Bullying May Have Led to Violent Outburst by Utah Teenager

Simms, on the topic of  Violent Acts

After the stabbing that happened at an Orem high school this week, several Utah residents questioned if undetected bullying may have led to the violent outburst by the 16 year old teenager.

When bullying victims fight back

Photo by: Thomas Ricker

Photo by: Thomas Ricker

Although authorities are unaware of any bullying that may have occurred prior to the stabbing, it is not uncommon for teen bullying victims to quietly bear the tormenting before eventually lashing out at their oppressors; an act that is too often done immediately before harming themselves. While this may not be the case for this incident as stated by the suspect’s parents, something triggered this young man with perfect grades and no criminal record to snap.

Depression to aggression

Bullying is often a major cause of depression among teenagers. Bad-mouthing (in person or online), name calling, ostracizing, and/or physical confrontations by peers can often cause a teen to withdraw from family and friends. When teens withdraw, they are more likely to lose interest in things that used to make them happy. As depression sets in, teens may experience intense, prolonged times of sadness and despair. Depression is not always evident as sadness however; those suffering may become more irritable and have increased instances of aggression.


Photo by: Serge Saint

Watch for red flags of bullying victims

Stopbullying.gov lists nine warning signs that parents and teachers should be aware of to identify a child or teen who may be a victim of bullying:

• “Unexplainable injuries
• Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
• Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
• Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
• Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
• Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
• Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
• Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
• Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide”

Signs of an aggressor

Stopbullying.org also lists eight red flags that a child or teen may be the aggressor in bullying cases. “Kids may be bullying others if they:

• Get into physical or verbal fights
• Have friends who bully others
• Are increasingly aggressive
• Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
• Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
• Blame others for their problems
• Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
• Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity”

Taking appropriate action

If adults can be aware of bullying red flags and address them immediately with their teen, school personnel, as well as a counseling service that specializes in teen depression and mood disorders, many teens can receive the help they need to channel their feelings appropriately while those doing the bullying can be dealt with appropriately. If teens are facing criminal charges for a violent response to bullying they have endured, contact a juvenile defense attorney

Joyriding in Stolen Vehicle Leads to Death of a Police Officer

Simms, on the topic of  Juvenile Defense Misc

Authorities have announced that three Utah teenagers who were joyriding in a stolen vehicle are the ones responsible for the death of a West Valley police officer.

Struck by stolen vehicle

Officer struck by stolen vehicle

Photo by: Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916

A report of a stolen vehicle during the early morning hours on Sunday November 6th prompted a quick response by law enforcement. During the short police chase, 25 year old Officer Cody Brotherson exited his vehicle to set up spike strips when the thieves struck Officer Brotherson with the stolen vehicle, killing him. The teens then lost control of the stolen vehicle and were apprehended shortly after.

Not even old enough to drive

The three teenage boys who were responsible for killing Officer Brotherson with the stolen vehicle were not even old enough to drive; two of the teens were 15 years old and the third was only 14. It is not known at this time whether or not the teens deliberately hit Officer Brotherson or if it was a result of poor vision and/or inexperienced drivers.

Possible charges

Although there is no word yet on what kind of charges the teens could be facing, their joyride in a stolen vehicle may end with charges such as:

• Driving without a license, an infraction (53-3-202),
• Driving without vehicle insurance, a class C misdemeanor (41-12a-302)
• Unauthorized control of a motor vehicle (joyriding) that is used to commit a felony, a third degree felony (41-1a-1314),
• Theft of a vehicle, a second degree felony (76-6-412),
• Fleeing police with said action resulting in death or bodily injury of another person, second degree felony ( 41-6a-210),
• Manslaughter, a second degree felony (76-5-205),
• Reckless conduct which results in the murder of a police officer, a first degree felony (76-5-203), and/or
• Aggravated murder, a capital felony (76-5-202). This grave charge is a possibility if investigators determine the teens intentionally hit and killed Officer Brotherson.

A Joyride that was not so joyful

Photo by: David K.

Photo by: David K.

These young Utah teenagers probably didn’t expect their joyride in a stolen vehicle to end in the death of a police officer. It is important for youth to know that there are almost always consequences to poor choices; the penalties for these teens are expected to include criminal charges as well as the life-long guilt from taking another’s life.

Sexual Bullying by Teenage Girls

Simms, on the topic of  Juvenile Defense Misc

Teenage girls are continually educated to recognize and report instances of sexual harassment at school, yet some may unknowingly be the perpetrators in what is referred to as sexual bullying, a type of harassment.

Harassment knows no gender

Sexual bullying

Photo by: Alena Navarro- Whyte

Many kids are taught from a young age that inappropriate words or actions that make them uncomfortable may be harassment and should not be tolerated. Unfortunately, much of the emphasis over the years has been depicting girls as usually being the victims. Most teenage girls nowadays understand that sexual harassment knows no gender and that disciplinary action may result from any unwelcomed touching of their peers. Few realize however, that similar consequences may follow from sexual harassment in the form of bullying.

Slut shaming

One way that teenage girls may unknowingly be guilty of sexual bullying their peers is through what is known as slut shaming. Slut shaming is done when one person labels another as being overly sexual or “easy”, making them feel bad for their past of current sexual behaviors or relationships. This is a problem that all too frequently can include girls as both the victims and the perpetrators.

Gossiping and rumors

Gossiping and spreading rumors is another way that sexual bullying can take place and is rampant amid both genders. Hurtful remarks or phrases about someone’s sexuality or body parts, whether or not they are true may be written on bathroom stalls, texted to classmates, or even said directly or indirectly to the victims. Teens may see these instances as nothing more that mean jokes or downplay them as needing to be done to establish a pecking order; to the victim and authorities however, it is sexual bullying.

Educate all teenagers on sexual bullying

It is essential that all teenagers, both male and female, are properly educated on what type of behavior may be considered sexual bullying or harassment. It is encouraged that all youth and their parents review the sexual harassment policy offered by every school district in the state. Any sexual bullying or harassment that has ensued in criminal consequences should be discussed with a juvenile defense attorney.

Juvenile Recidivism in Utah

Simms, on the topic of  Juvenile Court

When a juvenile is arrested shortly after being released for a previous offense, it is known as recidivism and continues to be a problem among the youth in Utah.

More than half re-offend

According to a study done by the Utah Criminal Justice Center in 2013, over half of all juvenile offenders return to incarceration within a year of being released from either community placements or secure facilities. The purpose of juvenile offender programs and detention facilities should be to help assess the needs of youth and get them the help they need to ensure the youth are capable of living in the community with a lowered risk of further criminal charges. If half of the youth are returning, the programs are not working.

Causes of juvenile recidivism in Utah

There are several possible causes for juvenile recidivism in Utah; the study by the Utah Criminal Justice Center along with other sources highlights a few of the key components that are consistently lacking among all types of treatment options put forth by the Juvenile Justice Services of Utah.

• Lack of continued mental health and substance abuse screening. Juvenile offenders will often go through initial mental health and substance use screening, yet these assessments should be continued at least biannually throughout the youth’s incarceration or detention to ensure they are receiving the adequate treatment for their specific needs to reduce their risk of recidivism.

• Communication gaps. The Juvenile Justice Services and the Juvenile Courts need to ensure that all information pertaining to a juvenile individual is shared entirely to ensure that all the needs of the youth are met to help them benefit fully from their treatment which in turn should help reduce some cases of recidivism.

• Adequate training for staff. All staff employed by the Juvenile Justice Services, from those who work in early intervention to those at the detention facilities should receive training on a regular basis to help them effectively use the results of all assessments to understand a youth’s risk level as well as their specific needs and how to incorporate treatment to fulfill those needs.

• Utilizing programs that work. There are several different programs available for youth through the Juvenile Justice Services. Some of them have a better track record than others. Those programs that are failing to successfully reintroduce youth into the community without a high risk of recidivism should not be used as often as they are.

Research options and be informed

Parents with youth who have been arrested for an offense need to speak to a juvenile defense attorney immediately to discuss not only defense options, but also effective treatment programs that may need to be implicated to help the youth avoid recidivism.

Jail Time Not Necessary For Utah Teen Charged With Vandalism

Simms, on the topic of  Juvenile Defense Misc

It has been determined that jail time will not be necessary for a Utah teenager who was charged with vandalism in California last June.

Vandalism – a costly choice


Photo by: Brandon Crowe

18 year old Jared Vance of Provo Utah was visiting a war memorial in Danville California when he foolishly spray painted drug referenced graffiti on what was described by Danville Police as “pavement, stone paths and granite benches”. California law states that depending on the cost of the damage, vandalism can be punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony with a fine ranging between $1,000 and $50,000 along with up to a year in jail.

Discerning it as a juvenile mistake

Authorities in Danville California and board leaders of the All Wars Memorial could have thrown the book at Vance for the vandalism on a respected memorial site however they have chosen to accept a public apology, community service, and reimbursement for the graffiti removal with no expected jail time for the young graffiti artist.

Fortunate “young” adult

Photo by: Tony Webster

Photo by: Tony Webster

At 18 years old, Jared Vance likely still looks and acts like a teenager yet is considered by law to be an adult. Although there is no excuse to defacing public property, the immaturity of his actions should not result in him spending time behind bars.  Fortunately, the people of Danville California recognized that and gave this young man a chance to redeem himself without jail time. The Danville Police Department, who are continually involved with or sponsoring community events such as “Recess with the Cops” and “Coffee & Cocoa with the Cops” obviously understood a juvenile mistake when they saw one.

Juvenile defense

Many teenagers and young adults are not the recipients of such understanding and grace as what was shown to young Jared Vance by the people of Danville. Not only can juveniles be punished severely for crimes, they can also be charged as adults and face time in jail. If your son or daughter is facing criminal charges whether they are a teenager or an immature young adult, it is imperative to consult with a defense attorney that handles both juvenile and adult criminal cases to keep them out of the system.

Including Kids During Hunting Season

Simms, on the topic of  Education

For many families around Utah, hunting season has become a family event; with adults and kids either joining in on the action or waiting apprehensively for those hunting to return. For families to enjoy this season fully however, it is important to know the laws regarding age restrictions on hunting as well as preparatory classes or supervision that may be required.


Hunting Season

Photo by: USFWS

According to the Utah division of Wildlife Resources, there is a type of hunting opportunity that is open for even for the youngest of residents – fishing! Fishing is not only lawful for children 11 years old or younger who are accompanied by a licensed adult, it is free. 12 and 13 year olds are required to be licensed, however their fee is only $5; far less than for those 14 and older.

Small game hunting

For those youth who wish to hunt away from the water and hunt animals such as rabbits, small game licenses are available for supervised youth 13 and younger for only $11. Small game hunting is a beneficial for preparing those kids that plan on hunting big game later on.

Big game hunting

As of 2008, kids as young as 12 years old are permitted to hunt big game as well as cougar and bear. This new age requirement reduced the age allowed to hunt big game down from the previous 14 years and older law. While these reduced age requirements were popular throughout the state for families that enjoy hunting season together, they came with strict laws regarding supervision and education.

Rules for hunting season

Before a kid grabs their rifle and heads out to shoot rabbits or elk, there are rules that they must be aware of:

• Adult supervision. Bringing the parents along isn’t always fun, but for hunters 15 and younger – it is the law.

• Hunting class. For anyone born after December 31st, 1965, DWR requires them to take a hunter education course approved by the DWR before they can obtain a license permitting them to hunt. A hunting course is not required for fishing.

• License. Before any hunting can happen (including fishing for those 12 and older), youth must obtain a hunting license as well as permits as required.

Failure for youth to follow the rules regarding hunting may result in a class B misdemeanor. If your child is already facing charges for hunting without a license or other crimes, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Attempted Homicide for Shooting Someone with a BB Gun

Simms, on the topic of  Utah Law

Police in Kearns, Utah are investigating a shooting where a 14 year old boy was shot in the head with a BB gun; an act that authorities are saying could result in attempted homicide charges.

BB Gun at School

Attempted Homicide

Photo by: au_tiger01

Following a homecoming pep rally at a Kearns, Utah high school earlier this month, a car pulled up to a group of students outside the school and opened fire on the crowd with a BB gun. One student, a freshman, was shot in the forehead with the BB gun and taken to a local hospital. The victim of the shooting is expected to make a full recovery and police are trying to find the shooter.

Not a child’s toy

A BB gun is often portrayed as an older child’s toy such as it is in the classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story”, yet many parents who buy their children BB guns or similar play firearms are unaware of the potential harm a child can do with the gun, and the criminal charges that may follow.

Attempted homicide

Photo by: Daniel Lobo

Photo by: Daniel Lobo

According to Kearns police who are still looking for the BB gun bandit, shooting someone with a BB gun is just like using any other type of firearm and criminal charges of attempted homicide are to be expected. Utah Code 76-4-102 states regarding attempted homicide : “[it] is a first degree felony punishable by imprisonment for an indeterminate term of not fewer than three years and which may be for life “.

Parental supervision

It is important for parents to educate themselves and their children on the rules associated with using any firearm, including BB guns. It is also encouraged that parents wait until a child is mature enough to understand the potential ramifications that may occur from committing a crime with a gun and for parents to provide supervision whenever the gun is in use. If a minor is facing criminal charges for attempted homicide or other firearm charges, parents should seek immediate legal counsel.

Dangerous New Drug Found in Utah Schools is Technically Legal

Simms, on the topic of  Drugs

A dangerous new drug is popping up in several Utah schools resulting in the deaths of two middle schoolers and there isn’t anything authorities can do about it since it is technically legal.


New Drug

Photo by: West Midlands Police

U-47700, otherwise known as pink or pinky is a synthetic opioid that gives users a high that has been compared to that of oxycodone and even heroin. It is extremely dangerous and has a high risk of overdosing since the high doesn’t last long causing the user to take multiple doses resulting in respiratory distress. Pink is actually not a new drug but was created back in the 1970’s as another alternative to morphine; it was never approved however and quickly vanished. For unknown reasons, the drug has resurfaced within the past few years and has been linked to numerous deaths including the late singer Prince and multiple individuals throughout Utah including two 13 year old boys.

A new drug is a legal drug

Since U-47700 is in a sense “new”, its exact chemical makeup isn’t included on the controlled substance list making it not against the law to use, sell, or buy. This means that pink can be ordered online from China and distributed openly to anyone anywhere, even at public schools. In an effort to stop the spread of this new drug The DEA and individual states are scrambling to have U-47700 added to the controlled substance list. Until then, pink will continue to inundate Utah schools and the death toll is expected to continue rising.


It is important that parents speak to their children about the dangers of this new drug, regardless of whether or not it is lawful. While most Utah kids have been told to stay away from illegal drugs, they also need to be educated on steering clear of anything that can pose a hazard to their health. Additionally, it is only a matter of time before U-47700 is prohibited in which criminal charges for possession and distribution would be imminent.