Felony Charges for Teen Who Received Stolen Firearm

A Utah teen is facing felony charges after receiving a stolen firearm in a drug trade.

Risky business

Photo by: Vulcan Rider

18 year old Matthew Ortega was arrested after a stolen firearm he had received in trade of drugs was linked back to him by the gun owner. Ortega, who had acquired the stolen weapon previously, had posted the gun for sale online where it was seen by the original owner. Law enforcement officers were notified and contacted Ortega, who came clean about how he had acquired the weapon. The firearm had been stolen a few weeks before by another individual and although Ortega was not involved in the burglary of the firearm, he is facing theft charges for receiving stolen property.

Receiving stolen property

When someone is the knowing recipient of stolen property, they may be charged with theft according to Utah Code 76-6-408 which states: “A person commits theft if he receives, retains, or disposes of the property of another knowing that it has been stolen, or believing that it probably has been stolen, or who conceals, sells, withholds or aids in concealing, selling, or withholding the property from the owner, knowing the property to be stolen, intending to deprive the owner of it.” Section 76-6-412 adds that “Theft of property and services as provided in this chapter is punishable:

(a) As a second degree felony if the:
(i) Value of the property or services is or exceeds $5,000;
(ii) Property stolen is a firearm or an operable motor vehicle; or
(iii) Property is stolen from the person of another”.

Since Ortega was just the recipient of the stolen firearm (ii) and that firearm wasn’t taken from another person, but from off their property (iii), he is facing a reduced charge of third degree felony theft. This lesser but still felony charge is likely due to the value of the firearm being between “$1,500 [to] $5,000” as stated in Section 76-6-412.

Legal purchases only

Since Ortega is 18 years old and legally an adult, he will face charges in district court and he could face up to five years in prison. Teens and young adults who purchase items from friends or acquaintances should ensure the items sold are the legal possessions of those listing them for sale. If the buyer has a hunch the items are stolen, they should trust that hunch and not participate in the deal. Teens under the age of 18 or those older who are restricted from owning firearms should refrain from buying or otherwise obtaining a gun to avoid related criminal charges. For more information on charges related to firearms, contact a knowledgeable attorney.

Three Teens Harboring a Runaway Friend Arrested

Three 18 year old teens from St. George Utah were arrested for harboring their friend who was listed as a runaway by law enforcement.

Missing person

Photo by: chriscom

In a Facebook plea from her distraught father, 17 year old McKenzie Scholzen was reported missing Monday after leaving home to go on a walk and never returning. Jeff Scholzen, McKenzie’s father stated concern for his daughter’s well-being due to suicidal tendencies. Local law enforcement was informed and began investigating the case while the community shared the father’s online post more than eight thousand times in an effort to locate the missing teen. Three days later, McKenzie was located safe and three older teens were arrested.

Road trip

McKenzie was found in a LDS church roughly 40 miles north of her home but hadn’t been there the entire time. The teen along with three 18 year olds had in fact travelled over 800 miles away to northern California before returning to southern Utah. McKenzie who left of her own free will was placed temporarily with a crisis center before being released to her parents. The 18 year olds who weren’t much older than McKenzie but legally considered adults by Utah law were arrested – Luis Rockwood for a warrant and Diego (Jasper) Wellhoff along with Lydia Probst for obstruction of justice and harboring a runaway.

Harboring a runaway

Photo by: Francois Marcotte

McKenzie went on the road trip willingly with her friends but because of her age as a minor, anyone helping her now faces criminal charges. Utah Code 62A-4a-501 states “a person . . . is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if the person:

(a) knowingly and intentionally harbors a child;
(b) knows at the time of harboring the child that the child is a runaway;
(c) fails to notify one of the following, by telephone or other reasonable means, of the location of the child:
i. the parent or legal guardian of the child;
ii. the division; or
iii. a youth services center; and
(d) fails to notify [one of the above persons] within eight hours after the later of:
i. the time that the person becomes aware that the child is a runaway; or
ii. the time that the person begins harboring the child.”

A class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine on top of any other charges faced.

Drive-By Shootings with No Injuries Results in Attempted Murder Charges

After a series of drive-by shootings took place in Layton, Utah with no injuries being reported, multiple teens involved in the gang-related shootings were arrested for attempted murder.

Drive-by Shootings

Photo by: neekoh.fi

Three separate drive-by shootings took place within a 10 day period in Layton, Utah and police believe the incident stemmed from retaliation from two rival gangs in the area. Following the third shooting, two 18 year olds and a 17 year old were arrested for various charges including attempted murder.

Attempted murder

Although no one was harmed during the multiple drive-by shootings, the three teens are facing charges for attempted murder. Utah Code 76-4-101 states “. . . a person is guilty of an attempt to commit a crime if he:

(a) Engages in conduct constituting a substantial step toward commission of the crime; and

(b) (i) Intends to commit the crime; or

(c) (ii) When causing a particular result is an element of the crime, he acts with an awareness that his conduct is reasonably certain to cause that result.”

Intent to cause death

After talking to witnesses, investigators have decided the two individuals who fired the weapons did so in order to cause serious injury or death to the individuals in the homes fired upon. Additionally, the other teen charged was the driver at one of the incidents and therefore determined to be aware of what was taking place. The two 18 year old were booked into the Davis County jail while the 17 year old was taken to a juvenile detention center.

19 Year Old Arrested a Second Time after Escape from Police Custody

A 19 year old Utah teen was arrested a second time after he managed an escape from police custody.

Houdini

Photo by: Victor

19 year old Noah Randall Cook was apprehended by Saratoga Springs police after a two day hunt for the teen who had somehow managed to slip away during an arrest. Cook’s original arrest came after he had confronted a female victim in a supermarket, assaulting her while preventing her from leaving or calling for help. Police responded and handcuffed Cook, placing him in the back of the police car. Once at the station, a handcuffed and shackled Cook was able to wriggle his way free and make a break for temporary freedom. After evading police for two days, Cook was located and arrested for a variety of charges including escape from police custody.

Escape from police custody

Utah Code 76-8-309 states: “A prisoner is guilty of escape [from police custody] if the prisoner leaves official custody without lawful authorization. . . Escape under this subsection is a third degree felony”. That section goes on to explain the penalties are increased to a second degree felony if the individual escapes a state prison. The penalties are increased to a first degree felony if the prison is found guilty of aggravated escape, in which a dangerous weapon is used or bodily injury to another occurs.

Prolonging the inevitable

For whatever reason Cook chose to assault and terrify the female victim in Walmart, running from his poor choices was just adding more trouble to his case. Beyond the charges for his actions at the supermarket, Cook is now facing an additional felony charge for his escape from police custody and he may be considered a flight risk, reducing his changes at being able to post bail. For teens and young adults caught breaking the law, please do not resist an arrest. Instead exercise your right to request the aid of an attorney.

Utah Teens May Be Allowed to Vote in Primaries before the Age of 18

Utah teens, many of whom are eager to let their voices be heard may now be allowed to vote in the primaries before they reach the age of 18.

Teen involvement in politics

Photo by: AFGE

Teens all over Utah have been taking a stand regarding political and debate topics, yet until now they have been unable to vote in favor of those who share their beliefs until they reach the age of 18. That barrier has now been changed to allow those approaching adulthood to join in on the primaries before they turn 18 years old.

Amended eligibility for voter registration

Utah Code 20A-2-101 was recently amended to allow teens to register and vote prior to them reaching the age of 18. That section now states: “. . . an individual may register to vote in an election who:

(a) Is a citizen of the United States;

(b) Has been a resident of Utah for at least the 30 days immediately before the election;

(c) Will be:
(i) At least 18 years of age on the day of the election; or

(ii) If the election is a regular primary election, a municipal primary election, or a Western States Presidential Primary:

(A) 17 years of age on or before the day of the regular primary election, municipal primary election, or Western States Presidential Primary; and

(B) 18 years of age on or before the day of the general election that immediately follows the regular primary election, municipal primary election, or Western States Presidential Primary; and

(d) currently resides within the voting district or precinct in which the individual applies to register to vote.”

Register now

Photo by: Tony Webster

Teens who are eligible to vote in the primaries should register soon as the last day to register by mail is approaching quickly with primaries taking place at the end of June. For more information on registering teens to vote, contact the local county clerk’s office.