Expungement of Juvenile Records in Utah

The past can’t be changed, however it need not be revealed with expungement of juvenile records in Utah. Juvenile court records can be sealed, without ever having to be mentioned again. The crime is not cleared, but repercussions do not need to follow the youth into adulthood.

Juvenile crimes

Photo by: Flazingo Photos

There it is – that “yes/no” box on college applications and job applications following the question: “Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor?” or “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” Older teens and young adults trying to get a job or get into college may wonder when the mistake they made when they were younger will ever be resolved. For anyone still marking “yes” for a crime that happened when they were a juvenile, there is a way to change the “yes” to a “no”.

Expungement of records

Expunging is the same as sealing the record. The court clerk places the records in an envelope, seals it, and writes “do not open unless ordered by a court”. Only the person that committed the crime can have the court order the envelope to be opened. The court looks on the expunged juvenile record as never having occurred.

Requirements for expungement

According to Utah Courts, In order for records to be expunged, the courts must be petitioned. The petitioner must be at least 18 years old, and fulfilled their sentence at least one year prior. The petitioner must not have been charged as an adult nor involved in any moral turpitude. All restitution must have been made. In addition the petitioner has to exhibit rehabilitation. If the expungement is ordered by the court, it is the petitioner’s duty to file with all pertinent agencies.

Time to move on with life

After having the records expunged, that pesky “yes/no” box asking if an older teen has committed a crime will no longer hold them back unless they commit another crime. A good defense lawyer can help open the doors to a different life for a teen with criminal regrets – One where the “yes/no” box can be marked no and the childhood mistake need not be a detriment any longer.

Racial Tension Involving Teenagers Ends in Death Threats

Last week a picture portraying racial tension surfaced from an incident at the Lincoln Memorial and the teenagers involved have now been the recipients of death threats.

Racial Tension

Photo by: jar [o]
You’ve seen it – the young white teenage male with a little smile on his face, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. He is looking at an angry looking Native American carrying a drum. The old adage says “a picture cannot lie”, however a picture does not always present the whole truth. This picture went viral on social media; it popped up on many people’s home page and created public outrage, which resulted in death threats.

Many sides to the story

The picture appears to involve a group of white teenagers and a group of Native Americans. This would lead people to believe that there are only two groups involved, however there are three sides to this story and all three sides have some similarities and some discrepancies. All agree that the event took place outside the Lincoln Memorial on Friday, January 18th. All three agree that there were three separate demonstrations going on a march for the Indigenous Peoples, a March for Life, and a group preaching the bible and their beliefs. All three agree that there were hostile words spoken and raised voices. The rest is up for interpretation.

Hebrew Israelites’ Side

The Hebrew Israelites were at the National Mall to “preach the truth of the Bible”, to teach their belief that African ’Americans are God’s chosen people. One member of the Hebrew Israelite said while they were trying to teach the Native Americans of the meaning of the word savages, the teenagers were mocking them and shouting racist slurs. The Hebrew Israelites believe the students were at fault for the incident.

The Native American Side

The spokesman for the Native Americans said that throughout the day the teenagers had been walking around making derogatory comments about the Blacks and about the Native Americans. Then there was a shouting match with heated words between the students and the Hebrew Israelites. The Native Americans began playing a prayer chant on the drums and walking between the two groups to try to calm both groups down. They accused the teenagers of making fun of the Native American heritage by making chopping motions with their hands. The Native Americans were walking between the students towards a meeting place at the front of the mall, but one teenager stood with a smirk on his face. The Native American believed this was illustrative of the years of built-up aggression against the Natives by whites. The Native Americans believe the Hebrew Israelites and the students were at fault for the incident.

The Teenager’s Side

The teenage in the photo was with a group of Catholic students in Kentucky protesting against abortion. The Hebrew Israelites had been shouting hateful comments to the students and the Native Americans throughout the day. When the Hebrew Israelites were calling the Native Americans savages, the group decided to chant cheers from sporting events to try and drown out the hateful words. One young black student responded to the insults by taking off his shirt and jumping along with the chants. When the Native Americans began to walk through the students, the teenagers were confused about what was going on so the pictured teen stood still with a small smile on his face, hoping to appear non-confrontational. Since the incident, the teens have started receiving death threats for their part in the situation.

Conclusion

The true story often lies somewhere in between each side’s story. Reality is often based on a each person’s past and beliefs. Interviews with bystanders are very different to each other and to the three groups. What may be dancing to one person would appear to be mocking to another. What may be a non-confrontational pose to one person may be an insult and an invitation to fight to another. When these incidents arise no one, including the youth, are exempt from the rising tensions. If you or your teen are facing legal action for violent or threatening behavior that could have risen based on a racially or otherwise tense situation, contact a defense attorney.

Adult Runaway from Juvenile Court System

An 18 year old from southern Utah had been listed as a runaway from the Juvenile Court System despite the fact that he is technically an adult.

Adult runaway

Photo by: James Burrage

Social media is sadly inundated with reports of teens who have gone missing or who have runaway. If someone is missing, the online public is quick to share posts in an effort to find the lost and ensure their safety. Often people are missing because they left on their own accord. If the runaway is under the age of 18 but left on their own, everyone is quick to help find them. Once a person reaches the age of 18 however, many assume they are adults and should be left alone to make their own decisions. While this can be true in many cases, if the runaway is leaving a juvenile detention they have not been officially released from, they may not have the right to make the decision on leaving yet.

Extended juvenile court

Many Utah residents think teens who have been in a juvenile system will only remain there until they reach the age of 18. According to the Salt Lake County Division of Youth Services, “The Juvenile Court has the authority to deal with cases involving persons under 18 years of age, persons 18 years or older whose offenses occurred when the person was under the age of 18 and are under the continued jurisdiction of the Court. The Juvenile Court can maintain jurisdiction over any person up to the age of 21. The Juvenile Court can retain jurisdiction concerning persons over the age of 21, who has failed to comply with an order of the court to pay fines/restitution if the order was imposed prior to the person’s 21st birthday.”

Young is good

While most teens are itching to grow up and be adults so they can make all their own decisions, those who are facing criminal charges should be relieved when their cases can stay in juvenile court. Through the Juvenile Court system, teens and young adults may have more of an opportunity for education, rehabilitation, and restitution without the fear of spending time behind bars or ending up with a criminal record. For more information on the Juvenile Court System or for charges that may constitute an adult offense, contact a reputable criminal and juvenile defense attorney.

Students Arrested for Vehicle Theft after Police Pursuit Ends at Utah School

Two Utah students were arrested for vehicle theft after a police pursuit came to an end at their West Jordan high school.

Stealing a ride to school

Photo by: Mark Walker

While many high school students have a hard time waking up in time for class, two teens in West Jordan were up early enough to steal a vehicle. A few hours before Monday morning classes began, two teens found an unattended truck a couple miles away from Copper Hills High School and decided to take it for a spin. The teens were caught on camera speeding through the neighborhood and damaging some nearby landscaping. Eventually the teens eventually made their way to school where there were spotted by police. Instead of finding a parking spot along with other fellow students, the teens took off at a high rate of speed across the parking lot and into the football field. The teens then fled on foot and were apprehended while trying to hide from police.

Vehicle theft

The 17 year old boy and 16 year old girl who started their Monday morning off with some real life ‘Grand Theft Auto’ were taken to a nearby juvenile detention for evading police and vehicle theft. The penalty for theft in Utah varies depending on the value of the item stolen. When that item is an “operable motor vehicle” as stated in Section 76-6-412, the theft is punishable as a second degree felony. This is the case even if the car is a junker with very low monetary value.

Juvenile defense

Photo by: North Charlston

Unless the charges are serious felonies as listed in Utah’s Serious Youth Offender Law (78A-6-702), most cases involving minors will stay within the juvenile court’s jurisdiction. The juvenile court tends to be more lenient than the district court as they take into account what is best for the minor as well as the public. It is still best to consult with a juvenile defense attorney concerning any charges brought against minors, regardless of the severity of those charges.

When Juveniles are Charged as Adults

When a teenager commits a crime, their family may be shocked to discover the minor could be charged as an adult.

Juvenile court

Photo by: Francois Marcotte

Most charges brought against minors will be dealt with in juvenile court, where through education, rehabilitation, and treatment there may be a greater chance of earlier reintroduction to the public without extended time under house arrest or in juvenile detention. There are some instances when charges against minors are taken out of juvenile court however, leaving young teens to face similar penalties that adults would.

Serious felonies

Utah Courts states “There are several circumstances under which a juvenile may be tried in adult court. These include cases where the juvenile is fourteen years or older and has been charged with a serious felony.” Utah Code 78A-6-702 lists some of these serious felonies as:

i. “Aggravated arson
ii. Aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury to another;
iii. Aggravated kidnapping;
iv. Aggravated burglary;
v. Aggravated robbery;
vi. Aggravated sexual assault;
vii. Felony discharge of a firearm;
viii. Attempted aggravated murder; or
ix. Attempted murder; or
(b) [a felony offense with a dangerous weapon when there is a prior incident involving a felony offense with a dangerous weapon].”

Charged as an adult

Once it has been determined that the minor is facing one of these serious felonies, the “judge shall consider only the following:

i. Whether the minor [is repeat felony offender with a dangerous weapon];
ii. [if more than one person is involved], whether the minor appears to have a greater or lesser degree of culpability than the co-defendants;
iii. [if the minor’s role in the offense] was committed in a violent, aggressive, or premeditated manner;
iv. [prior legal trouble];
v. Whether public safety and the interests of the minor are better served by adjudicating the minor in the juvenile court or in the district court [and where they are best able to be rehabilitated].

Legal help for families of minors

Many Utah families expect leniency in court for their children and are surprised when teenagers ends up facing charges in district court where there is the possibility of years in prison. For this reason it is imperative to never assume the system will work in the favor of a minor and instead obtain the legal aid of a qualified defense attorney with experience in handling juvenile and district court cases.