Felony Distribution and Negligent Homicide Charges for Utah Teen Who Arranged Fatal Drug Deal

A teen has been charged with felony distribution as well as negligent homicide after arranging a drug deal that led to the overdose of a southern Utah woman.

Heroin overdose

Photo by: Tony Webster

A southern Utah woman was found dead of a heroin overdose and police were able to track down the individual who helped her obtain the drugs that led to her death. 19 year old Gadge Christensen admitted to police that he helped obtain the drugs for the woman and was aware of her death. He then self-confessed that prior to helping the woman obtain the heroin, he knew it was dangerous- a fact that anyone with common sense would know. He was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility on negligent homicide and felony distribution charges.

Negligent Homicide

The heroin that Christensen helped obtain for the woman has not been reported as being laced with anything that would increase the chances of an overdose, but any heroin use carries an overdose risk. Since Christensen knew that basic drug fact prior to the user’s death, he is also facing charges of negligent homicide. Negligent homicide is defined by Utah Code 76-5-206 as when “. . . the actor, acting with criminal negligence, causes the death of another. Negligent homicide is a class A misdemeanor.

Felony distribution

Photo by: Find Rehab Center

Utah Code 58-37-8 states regarding felony distribution of heroin that “ . . . it is unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally . . . distribute a controlled or counterfeit substance, or to agree, consent, offer, or arrange to distribute a controlled or counterfeit substance”. Setting up a heroin deal can result in “. . . a second degree felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 years”.


Exercising Miranda Rights

With the information that is provided so far, Christensen doesn’t appear to be a regular time heroin dealer. He very well could have been a middle man who was fulfilling a request of a user. However since Christensen openly admitted to law enforcement that he had played a part in finding and distributing the heroin to the now deceased woman, he is now facing serious charges with the potential to land him behind bars for several years. Many older teens and young adults do not fully understand their rights when being faced with an arrest. They may not listen closely to all the protections that their Miranda Rights offer, and instead choose to be openly affable. This mindset could result in them portraying themselves out to have more of a criminal intent that they actually did. Anyone who has been read the Miranda Warning is highly encouraged to be honest with law enforcement, but to also exercise their “right to an attorney” prior to speaking to police to ensure they do not admit to crimes in the spirit of being agreeable.

Reckless Driving Charges Possible for Utah Teen Who Crashed Vehicle While Blindfolded

A Utah teen who took a new challenge to dangerous levels could face charges of reckless driving after she crashed her vehicle while blindfolded.

New thriller

Photo by: Ginny

Netflix recently released a new thriller titled Bird Box which was viewed over 45 million times within a week of its release date. In the horror/thriller film “Bird Box”, the main character and her two children must navigate through a forest and down a river. The clincher however is they must remain blindfolded or they will die from their own suicide attempts. The movie uses monsters that prey on sight, leaving blindfolds to be the only saving grace of the characters.

The Challenge

While the film itself has received high ratings from viewers and critics alike, one of the fads that has followed is being openly opposed by law enforcement and Netflix. Following the millions of movie views, several people have taken it upon themselves to do what is known as the “Bird Box Challenge”. This challenge involves a person blindfolding themselves and then trying to navigate or perform tasks without the ability to see. Although some may do the challenge in a controlled environment such as navigating safely across their bedroom, others are taking the challenge too far, putting themselves and others in danger.

Bird Box vs driving

Photo by: Keirsten Marie

One teen in Utah decided to take the challenge to the road. The 17 year old girl was driving down Layton Parkway with her 16 year old male friend pulled her beanie down over her eyes, and continued down the road. Not surprisingly, she eventually crossed into oncoming traffic and hit another vehicle before crashing into a light pole. Fortunately for her and the other driver, no injuries were reported. Now that law enforcement knows the reason behind the wreck, the teen will likely face charges which could include reckless driving.

Reckless Driving

Utah Code 41-6a-528 states “A person is guilty of reckless driving who operates a vehicle: In willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. . . “. Reckless driving is punishable as a class B misdemeanor. Anyone who wants to join a like fad or challenge is encouraged to think about the physical as well as criminal repercussions that could occur. Parents are encouraged to speak to their teens about dangerous challenges that are currently making the rounds to ensure their teen are using common sense before joining in with the crowd.

Abuse or Desecration of a Dead Human Body Charges for Utah Teen Who Hid Lifeless Newborn

A 17 year old Utah teen has been arrested for abuse or desecration of a dead human body after she hid her lifeless newborn in a dresser.

Hidden pregnancy

Photo by: Britt-knee

A 17 year old Saratoga Springs girl is facing charges after her father discovered a deceased newborn in the teen’s clothes dresser back in April. Law enforcement officers were told by the teen that she had been raped the summer before and didn’t tell anyone about the pregnancy. Over the next several months, the teen was able to hide her growing belly from family and friends by wearing baggy clothing. She eventually went into labor when she gave birth to the baby in a bathtub where it was either born dead or died immediately after birth. She then wrapped the newborn’s body in clothes and hid it in a dresser.

Abuse or Desecration of a dead human body

Utah Code 76-9-704 states “A person is guilty of abuse or desecration of a dead human body if the person intentionally and unlawfully:

(a) Fails to report the finding of a dead human body to local law enforcement agency;
(b) Disturbs, moves, removes, conceals, or destroys a dead human body or any part of it;
(c) Disinters a buried or otherwise interred dead human body, without authority or a court order;
(d) Dismembers a dead human body to any extend, or damages or detaches any part or portion of a dead human body; or
(e) . . . Commits or attempts to commit upon any dead human body any act of sexual penetration. . .
Abuse or desecration of a dead human body . . . is a third degree felony.”

Safe Haven Law

Anyone regardless of their age who has given birth to a child they do not want are encouraged to bring the newborn to any hospital where they can relinquish custody. This Safe Haven Law protects the birth mother from facing criminal charges or scorn from family and friends while ensuring that the newborn can receive the medical help needed. For more information on Safe Haven Laws in Utah, visit utahsafehaven.org. For legal help regarding charges against teens, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Teen Vaping Ban

Teen vaping is a growing problem across the nation and in an effort to curb the rising amount of underage users, the FDA is pushing a ban on certain products that appeal more to the younger crowd.

National Youth Tobacco Survey

Photo by: Misha Sokolnikov

According to a news release last week by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the National Youth Tobacco Survey showed “. . . more than 3.6 million middle and high school students were current (past 30 day) e-cigarette users in 2018, a dramatic increase of more than 1.5 million students since last year.” They also noted that “The sharp rise in e-cigarette use has resulted in an increase in overall youth tobacco product use, reversing a decline seen in recent years”. What was originally created as a way for tobacco users to quit may actually be making things worse, especially for teens.

Dangers of vaping

Through education and advertisements, the dangers of tobacco products are well-known among adults and youth. E-cigarettes are still new enough that information about the hazards was not available before millions of Americans had already become accustomed to using them. Now the more that is learned of vaping, the more the FDA wants to limit its availability and use among youth. A campaign to teach teens about the dangers of e-cigarettes or vaping states that “[vaping] can contain dangerous chemicals such as: acrolein, a chemical that can cause irreversible lung damage; formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical; and toxic metal particles, like chromium, lead and nickel, which can be inhaled into the lungs.”

Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan

Photo by: Mike Mozart

With the dangers of vaping known and the use of E-cigarettes rising among teens, The FDA is pushing back on companies that are contributing to this new crisis for the youth. The FDA sent letters to companies that produce and sell e-cigarettes to determine which companies are marketing their e-cigarettes illegally under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco control Act of 2009 and what the five major manufacturers plan on doing to help prevent teens from accessing and using their vaping products. Additionally, the FDA is restricting many fruity and sweet vaping flavors to stores that only allow adults to access. This would stop these appealing flavors from being marketed in areas where kids frequent including convenience stores. Additionally, the agency is pushing a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars which are used by more than have of youth smokers.

Vaping laws in Utah

While rules regarding e-cigarette manufacturers and vendors are updating, the laws punishing underage smoking remains the same. Teens who are caught smoking or vaping before they reach the age of 19 will likely be fined and ordered to participate in a “court-approved tobacco education program” as stated in section 76-10-105. Teen who are 18 years old may face class C misdemeanor charges. For more information on laws regarding the illegal use or sale of tobacco or vaping products, seek legal counsel from a reputable attorney.

Increase in Shoplifting on Black Friday

Shoplifting is a crime that often begins in the teenage years, and surprisingly there is a notable increase in retail theft crimes that occurs on Black Friday.

Black Friday

Photo by: Matt Madd

Many families have been sitting around the table today sharing reasons they are thankful while mere hours later they will be fighting for a place in line to obtain the hottest item on store shelves. While some of the best deals can be found on Black Friday, it is certainly not the day to see the best of people. Beyond those quarreling in line and past others who may be getting physically aggressive with fellow store patrons are other crimes being committed under the radar. Shoplifting is one of these unexpected crimes that can occur despite the increased holiday foot traffic. Also not expected is the extra eyes and cameras being used to catch those taking advantage of the crowds.

Retail theft

Shoplifting is known under the Utah Criminal Code as retail theft. Section 76-6-602 states: “A person commits the offense of retail theft when he knowingly: Takes possession of, conceals, carries away, transfers or causes to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise. . . in a retail mercantile establishment with the intention of retaining such merchandise or depriving the merchant permanently of the possession . . . without paying the retail value of such merchandise.” Shoplifting can also occur if someone alters or removes a tag in order to deprive the merchant of the full retail value.

Teens and shoplifting

Photo by: Mike Mozart

Shoplifting can be done by people of all ages, and teens are definitely not exempt from this crime. Many adults who face problems with chronic shoplifting say the practice started when they were adolescents. Teen shoplifting can begin due to a variety of reasons such as low or non-existent income, peer pressure, entitlement issues and even just for thrills. This time of year, many teens may shoplift because they feel they have no other way of obtaining gifts for their family and friends. Regardless of why teenagers begin shoplifting, most do not understand the legal consequences surrounding this crime. The criminal charges for shoplifting depend on the value of the items lifted. Charges can range from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony and additionally, most stores will also permanently ban shoplifters from ever entering their stores again.

Education and good examples

Before shopping for gifts and other material possessions takes over this season, parents should sit down with their teens and educate them on the laws regarding shoplifting. This is also an opportune time to help teenagers discover ways to make gifts or earn money so they can join in the holiday gift exchange. Teens who may be facing charges for shoplifting and other types of theft should consult with an attorney.