Multiple Felony Charges for 18+ Teens Looking to “Score Weed”

Three teens 18+ in age who were attempting to “score weed” are now facing multiple felony charges for kidnapping and robbing a 17 year old minor in Magna, Utah earlier this month.

Looking for Marijuana

Photo by: Chuck Grimmett
Photo by: Chuck Grimmett

18 year old David Saul Gonzalez-Reyes, 19 year old Eduardo Flores-Loeza, and 19 year old Alisha Jimenez were arrested last week after they met a 17 year old female in a grocery store parking lot who was there to sell marijuana. After they entered the minor’s vehicle, one of the teens struck the minor in the face with a handgun and forced her to drive to a nearby residence where they continued their crime spree by physically assaulting and robbing two individuals at that house.

Multiple Felony Charges = Possible Life in Prison

The trio of older teens was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail with each facing:

Aggravated assault, a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison;

Aggravated burglary, a first degree felony that carries a possible prison term of five years to life;

• Aggravated robbery, a first degree felony that may add on another five years to life;

Aggravated kidnapping, another first degree felony punishable by what Utah code 76-5-302 states to be “not less than 15 years and which may be for life”.

Multiple Felony Charges
Photo by: Office of Public Affairs

Although all teens are facing the same multiple felony charges, it is not clear what role each played in the alleged kidnapping, assault, and robbery. It is also not known whether or not the teens knew the minor or the individuals who were at the home prior to the scheduled drug deal. If convicted of the multiple felony charges, the teens who are barely old enough to vote could spend the rest of their lives in jail because they wanted to get high.

Party to a Crime in Utah

Hanging out with the wrong crowd has a potential to lead to trouble for Utah teens, and being an indirect party to a crime may result in charges.

Responsible for the actions of friends?

Photo by: Tony Alter
Photo by: Tony Alter

Each teenager has their own agency and is able to choose for themselves if they are going to be law abiding citizens or not. They may plead with their parents to allow them to hang out with friends who have a tendency to get into trouble; perhaps with the intent on being a good example to those friends. Unfortunately, being with others who are breaking the law could result in criminal penalties, even if a minor is not directly involved.

Criminal conduct

Utah Code 76-2-101 states “A person is not guilty of an offense unless the person’s conduct is prohibited by law” however conduct does not have to be the direct action of a crime. Utah code 76-2-202 adds that besides the individual “who directly commits the offense, [every person] who solicits, requests, commands, encourages, or intentionally aids another person to engage in conduct which constitutes an offense shall be criminally liable as a party for such conduct.”

Party to a crime

Party to a Crime
Photo by: Tyrone Daryl

Being a party to a crime does not have to involve direct involvement. It could be driving a friend to a place where a crime is going to be committed. It may consist of rallying with a group of friends while planning to break the law, even if the individual decides to back out at the last minute. It can also involve asking someone to do something illegal, whether or not the request was sincere or not.

No criminal intent

There are times when a teen has no desire of committing a crime or being a party to a crime but ends up with others who do. They may have had no previous knowledge of what was in store and would not have been in that situation if they had known. All teens facing criminal charges for being a party to a crime or in the wrong place at the wrong time should have their parents consult with a knowledgeable juvenile defender to discuss defense options.

Fight Nights Remain Popular among Teens and Everyone is talking about it

As a popular, yet absurd way to pass the time, fight nights remain popular among Utah teens and everyone is talking about it, even parents.

Boredom buster

Fight Nights
Photo by: Milos Milosevic

Fight nights became popular after the 1999 film Fight Club that glorified organized violence as a fun activity to pass the time. Nearly two decades later, these violent get togethers continue to be a favorite pastime and the younger generation is keeping it going strong. A group of teens in southern Utah recently participated in a fight club as a way to kick off the summer during senior sunrise.

Organized violence

Most fight nights in Utah are at least somewhat organized as someone thinks enough of it to bring boxing gloves to a get together. There are many times when fight nights are well thought out and planned, with some events demanding an entrance fee to participate or view.

Physical injuries

While physical injury is expected, teens often don’t understand that fight nights don’t always end with a simple split lip or bloody nose. Concussions, knocked out teeth, and broken noses or other bones are common and can have unexpected recovery times and medical costs. Beyond physical injuries, these types of events can also damage a teen emotionally.

Emotional injuries

Photo by: Ian T. Macfarland
Photo by: Ian T. Macfarland

While some fight nights only see contestants fighting who desired to participate, others may involve someone calling another person out and putting them on the spot to fight or flee. Teens who originally had no intention to fight may feel pressured to participate to save themselves from being humiliated. Others who refuse or those who lose mercilessly may be publicly taunted and tormented by their peers.

Criminal charges for fight nights

If physical and emotional injuries aren’t enough to deter teens from participating in fight nights, maybe criminal charges will get their attention. Utah Code 63N-10-306 states that “Club fighting is prohibited. Any person who publicizes, promotes, conducts, or engages in a club fighting match is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.” Those charges could result in a year behind bars and a fine of up to $2,500. Parents who allow or even supervise their teens to participate in fight nights can also face criminal charges. As teens attempt to fill their summer with fun and exciting activities, it is important to discourage organized violence as a way to beat the summer boredom.

Can Compressed Air Guns Be Used on Small Wildlife?

Small wildlife such as birds and rabbits are often used as target practice for young Utah residents who wish to sharpen their skills with compressed air guns. The problem is: it may be illegal.

Compressed air guns

Compressed Air Guns
Photo by: Gordon

BB guns, pellet guns, and airsoft rifles, are all almost weapons that are used frequently by minors without much regulation and training. Unfortunately, this lack of training on these pseudo weapons leaves many juveniles unaware of the law regarding what they are allowed to shoot and where. Before risking legal penalties for using compressed air guns on small animals, youth and their parents are encouraged to research the laws where they live.

Protected wildlife

Although compressed air guns are not considered firearms in the state of Utah, they still have the potential to cause bodily injury or even death to small animals. Before kids decide to take out the annoying bird in the bushes next door, they should first find out if the animal is a protected species. Hundreds of animals are considered protected, from those who are domesticated pets or livestock to others who are protected under the Endangered Species Act or Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

City limits

If an animal is a nuisance animal or a pest and not protected in any way, it may be lawful to use compressed air guns on the animal, however minors should always check with an adult first. Another factor that must be considered and discussed with a knowledgeable adult prior to using compressed air guns is whether or not it is lawful to discharge them within city limits. Many cities including Salt Lake City prohibit the use of “any gun, revolver, or firearm of any kind or nature, or airgun ( . . . ) unless upon a place specifically designed exclusively for the use of any such type instrument.” (SLC Ordinance 11.48.030)

Seek information

For those seeking more information related to compressed air guns or about shooting small wildlife, the Utah Division of Wildlife and local city offices should be able to clarify what is considered lawful use of compressed air guns. If it is after the fact, and a person needs information regarding legal complications surrounding the use of compressed air guns, they are encouraged to contact a juvenile defense attorney.

16 Year Old Utah Teen Charged With Negligent Homicide Following Deadly Crash

A 16 year old Draper, Utah teen was charged with negligent homicide following a deadly crash that took the lives of two of the teen’s classmates.

A car full of inexperienced drivers

Negligent Homicide
Photo by: State Farm

In November, five 16 year old students from Corner Canyon High School in Draper, Utah were driving on north Highland Drive just before midnight when one of the teens who was driving lost control of the vehicle, sending it into a roll. Two of the passengers, Lexie Fenton and Ethan Fraga were pronounced dead at the scene. The other three passengers, Hayden Gale, Romey Kelley, and Lauren Fenton who was Lexie’s twin sister were all transported to the hospital and released a short time later.

Negligent homicide

After a lengthy investigation, authorities determined that the 16 year old female driver was at fault for the death of her classmates. She was formally charged last month with two counts of negligent homicide. Utah Code 76-5-206 states “Criminal homicide constitutes negligent homicide if the actor, acting with criminal negligence, causes the death of another. Negligent homicide is a class A misdemeanor.”

Lesser of the homicide offenses

No details have been released as to why the teen was charged, but it does not appear drugs or alcohol played a part. Had they been, the teen driver could have faced felony charges for automobile homicide. The charges state the teen acted with criminal negligence which according to Utah Code 76-2-103 means “…with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise in all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.”

Juvenile defense

As teens are new, inexperienced drivers it is important for them to understand the safety as well as the legal risks associated with reckless or negligent driving. For more information on potential misdemeanor or felony charges teens may face behind the wheel, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Helping a Friend Commit Suicide Results in First-Degree Murder Charges for Utah Teen

A Utah teen is facing first-degree murder charges after he helped a friend commit suicide then left her body hanging from a tree.

Photo by: Utah County Sheriff's Office
Photo by: Utah County Sheriff’s Office

Helping a friend commit suicide

18 year old Tyerell Przybcien from Spanish Fork, Utah was arrested on murder charges and reckless endangerment after he admitted to helping his friend, 16 year old Jchandra Brown commit suicide by hanging herself from a tree in Payson Canyon. Przybcien helped Brown acquire the supplies needed, drove her out near Maple Lake Campground, and then filmed her while she dangled from the rope.

Suicide pact

Photo: Courtesy of Facebook
Photo: Courtesy of Facebook

Pyzybcien told police that he and Brown had a suicide pact but he hadn’t carried out his own suicide after helping her. He admitted to having a fascination with death and was curious to see someone die so he knew whether or not he could go through with it. Weeks prior to Brown’s death, Pyzybcien had texted a friend about the plan and eluded that he was looking forward to the incident. Shortly after Brown’s suicide however, he texted the same friend again, only this time confessing his feelings of guilt.

First-degree murder for watching?

Helping Friend Commit Suicide
Photo: PixGood

Although Pyzybcien played a large part in helping his friend prepare to commit suicide, even going so far as to tie the noose, he didn’t actually force Brown to take her life or even encourage it. He simply went along and did what she had asked him to do. So why then was he charged with first-degree murder? According to Utah Code 76-5-203 from which his charges are based, “Criminal homicide constitutes murder if:

a) The actor intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another;
b) Intending to cause serious bodily injury to another, the actor commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of another;
c) Acting under circumstances evidencing a depraved indifference to human life, the actor knowingly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another and thereby causes the death of another; ( . . . )”

By purchasing the supplies, tying the rope, and not attempting to talk his friend out of killing herself, Pyzybcien could very well be seen as having “depraved indifference to human life” and acting in a way that would be a “grave risk to another”.

Utah suicide prevention

Photo by: Jared Keener
Photo by: Jared Keener

The rate of depression among Utah teenagers is dangerously high. When those depressive moods or feelings of hopelessness lead a teen to consider suicide, those around should be supportive of the teen, not their choice to end their life. For more information on how to talk to teens about depression and suicide, contact the Utah Department of Health. For those who are having thoughts of suicide, contact the Suicide Hotline at #1-800-273-TALK or speak to a responsible adult for support.

Aiding a Minor Curfew Violation

When someone permits or encourages a teen to stay out past a legally designated time at night, they may end up facing charges for aiding curfew violation.

Aiding a minor curfew violation

Photo by: Logan Smith
Photo by: Logan Smith

Some teens always seem to find a way of cheating the system and when it comes to curfew, they may assume being with someone 18 years of age and older or getting permission from an adult is enough to stay out of trouble. This false sense of security can not only end with the teen being citing for curfew violation but also criminal charges for the adult friend or guardian who was aiding the teen in breaking curfew.

Statewide curfew

All Utah cities have the right to adjust curfew times in their jurisdictions as they see fit but as a general rule throughout Utah, teens under the age of 18 are not to be out in public between midnight and 6:00am. These laws can also differ depending on the age of the minor. For instance, teens who are 16 to 17 years old may have a more lenient curfew than those under the age of 16. A common occurrence is for younger teens to lose an hour or two off of their allowed time out at night.

Valid exceptions

Photo by: Eric Landry
Photo by: Eric Landry

There are a few exceptions to curfew laws that will save teens from receiving a curfew violation. These include: transportation to and from work; when exercising their 1st Amendment rights; if attending a religious or controlled school function; if legally married; and during an emergency. Another exception that is over misunderstood is when the teen is accompanied by a parent or guardian. This does not mean that it is lawful for a parent, guardian, or any adult over the age of 18 to permit a minor to be in a public place after curfew hours.

Aiding a minor curfew violation

An example of a Utah law defining aiding a minor curfew violation is found within the Syracuse City ordinance Title XII 12-2-1 that states: “it shall be unlawful for any parent, guardian or other person having legal care and custody of any minor under 18 years of age to allow or permit such minor to go or be in or upon any of the sidewalks, streets, alleys or public places in said City during the applicable times provided in the above paragraph. The provisions of the first paragraph of this Section shall not apply where the minors are accompanied by parent, guardian, or other adult person having the care and custody of said minor, or where the presence of such minor in or upon any sidewalk, street, alley or public place is connected with and required by some legitimate pursuit in which said minor is engaged. No adult shall aid, abet, permit or encourage any minor to violate the foregoing provisions. “

Know before you travel

Photo by: Daniel D'Auria
Photo by: Daniel D’Auria

With summer vacation getting closer, it is important for parents to know the laws throughout Utah to ensure their child and responsible adults do not face charges related to curfew violation. The specific laws pertaining to aiding a curfew violation can be found within each city’s ordinances. For assistance in dealing with curfew violations contact a defense attorney that handles both juvenile and adult matters in court.

Bomb Threat at California School Made by Teen in Utah

A High School in California received a bomb threat earlier this month and authorities found the call was made by a teen in Utah.

Long distance threat

Bomb Threat
Photo by: Alexandra E. Rust

A 15 year old boy in Utah was arrested for threat of terrorism after he called Chino High School in Chino, California and told them there was a bomb on the property. Staff and students of the California High School were quickly evacuated while authorities determined the bomb threat to be a fake.

Targeted school or random bomb threat

Utah police have not disclosed whether or not the Utah teen had chosen the California high school specifically or at random. At this time, the city or county in Utah where the teen resides is being withheld as is any possible ties he may have had to Chino High School.

Threat of terrorism

Utah Code 76-5-107.3 states “A person commits a threat of terrorism if the person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and:

i. Threatens the use of a weapon of mass destruction (second degree felony) or;

ii. Threatens the use of a hoax weapon of mass destruction (second degree felony) or

(b) acts with intent to:

i. Intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence or affect the conduct of a government or unit of government (second degree felony) or;

ii. Prevent or interrupt the occupation of a building or a portion of the building, a place to which the public has access, or a facility or vehicle of public transportation operated by a common carrier; (third degree felony) or;

iii. Cause an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies to take action due to the person’s conduct posing a serious and substantial risk to the general public (class B misdemeanor)”

This section also adds that any threat “may be express or implied.”

Juvenile defense

Teens who are facing criminal charges such as threat of terrorism for making a fake bomb threat should be represented by council experienced in handling cases in juvenile court as well as adult court, should the defendant be charged as an adult. Crimes that take place in more than one jurisdiction or state could end in repeated charges, each sovereignty with the option to press charges. For more information on how to handle charge in and out of state, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

15 Year Old Utah Teen Arrested for Discharging a Firearm near Riverdale Park

A 15 year old Utah boy has been arrested for discharging a firearm near a Riverdale park; a location that is also in close proximity to an elementary school.

Semi-automatic weapon at park

discharging a firearm
Photo by: Mike

On Tuesday evening, Riverdale police received multiple calls about gunshots being heard near Riverdale Park and Riverdale Elementary. Officers arrived to the scene and after a short police chase on foot, the 15 year old was apprehended. On his person was a semi-automatic weapon as well as an undisclosed quantity of ammunition. There is no information available on a possible reason behind the teen discharging the firearm. Fortunately nobody was hurt and no property has been reported damaged thus far.

Minor possession of a firearm

Although no one was injured, the 15 year old is likely to face multiple charges for discharging a firearm. Utah code 76-10-509 explains that “A minor under 18 years of age may not possess a dangerous weapon unless he:

(a) Has the permission of his parent or guardian to have the weapon; or

(b) Is accompanied by a parent or guardian while he has the weapon in his possession.”

A teen who violates this law faces a class B misdemeanor or Class A misdemeanor if he has already been charged for a similar crime. If the firearm in question had been a fully-automatic versus a semi-automatic, the teen would be facing a third degree felony.

Discharging a firearm

Photo by: Ian Carroll
Photo by: Ian Carroll

Utah Code 76-10-508.1 states that discharging a firearm is a third degree felony if the person in question shot towards a house, person, or vehicle or “with intent to intimidate or harass another”. If a person is injured those charges increase to a second degree felony; seriously injured, a first degree felony. Beyond Utah State law, the city of Riverdale Utah also has ordinances in place regarding discharging a firearm near a park. According to section 7-7-4 (a) of a public document put out by the Riverdale City regarding parks and trails, “No person in any park or river trail system shall: use firearms of any description including, but not limited to, air rifles, spring guns, bows and arrows, rockets, slings, paint guns, or any other forms of weapons potentially harmful to wildlife or dangerous to human safety.”

Federal charges

Discharging a firearm can bring an array of charges, even federal. According to information found on CONGRESS.GOV, the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990“Amends the Federal criminal code to impose criminal penalties for the possession or discharge of a firearm in a school zone ( . . . )”. With the many charges possible regarding discharging a firearm, parents of teens involved should take the matter seriously and solicit counsel from an experienced juvenile defense attorney.

Reminding Utah Teenagers of Their Right to Remain Silent

The right to remain silent is not reserved solely for adults, and it may be wise to remind the youth in Utah that they are also granted this same protection.

Right to Remain Silent
Photo by: Craig Sunter

The Fifth Amendment and the right to remain silent

According to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, “No person ( . . . ) shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself ( . . . )”. The U.S. Supreme court realized back in the late sixties that ALL citizens ought to be reminded of their constitutional right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination in the event that they are ever arrested. Thus was the beginning of the Miranda rights or Miranda warning that must be recited to citizens upon an arrest in order for any statements of the arrestee to be used in court.

Intimidation from adults and law enforcement

When a teen is caught in situations where illegal activity is taking place, they may feel intimated when an adult or law enforcement officer confronts them. This pressure to do whatever is asked of them often skyrockets when the Miranda Warning is recited. Unfortunately, this warning meant to protect those facing charges is usually not portrayed in movies and TV as a benefit to those arrested, but instead as the final act before a person is deemed guilty and whisked away in handcuffs. The fear from being in that situation and having their Miranda Rights read to them may result in a teen saying too much and offering information that is self-incriminating. Although youth should be respectful to those who have authority over them such as teachers and police officers, they can be respectful while still protecting their right to remain silent until represented by counsel.

Silent does not mean guilty

Photo by: Martin Cathrae
Photo by: Martin Cathrae

Utah teenagers may be under the impression that if they choose not to speak when asked questions regarding a crime, they may get it trouble or have their silence seen as a sign of guilt. If not speaking entirely is uncomfortable for the youth, they can politely state that their family’s attorney has advised them to exercise their right to remain silent if they are ever accused of a crime. To further reduce the stress of the situation, the teen and their family should be prepared with the contact number of a trusted attorney that can handle juvenile cases. For more information on constitutional rights or how to prepare a teen should in the event that they are ever faced with criminal charges, contact a reputable juvenile defense attorney.