Utah Teens Who Stole Pride Flags May Face Hate Crime Charges Under New Law

Three teens who went around a South Jordan, Utah neighborhood stealing pride flags may face hate crime charges under a new law put into effect recently.

Stolen flags

Photo by: Elliott Brown

Several residents in South Jordan, Utah were the victims of theft when their pride flags were taken from their yards during Pride week. One resident caught the perpetrators on camera which led police to another home nearby. Inside officers discovered three teen boys who were identified from the resident’s video. Officer’s also located the stolen flags.

Theft

Charges are pending for the teens responsible but is it likely the teens will be charged with theft. According to Utah Code 76-6-412, criminal charges for theft of services or property can range from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony depending on the monetary value of the item and other variables such as previous convictions. The pride flags stolen by the teens may be of great personal value to the owners and others around that look to them as a symbol of hope and love to the LGBT community, but their monetary value isn’t high enough to warrant any felony charges.

Hate crime

While the teens shouldn’t face felony charges for theft of the flags, they could face additional misdemeanor charges if their actions are considered a hate crime. The teens were not going around the neighborhood, terrorizing random individual’s yards. They were collecting pride flags, which could be seen as a specific target. SB 103 regarding victim targeting penalty enhancement that was signed into law early April “ enacts provisions relating to sentencing for a criminal offense committed against a victim who is selected because of certain personal attributes.” If their crime could be seen as a hate crime as defined in SB 103, the boys could see enhancements to their charges. For instance, a class B misdemeanor would them become a class A misdemeanor; a class A misdemeanor would become a third degree felony; and so on.

Intent or ignorant choice

Authorities have not determined whether or not the boys intended to target the LGBT community or if they were just making ignorant choices by taking all the rainbow flags they could find. An experienced juvenile defense attorney can help ensure any youth facing charges in portrayed honestly and fairly in a court of law.

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