Teenage Girl Charged With Arson and Damage Of Utah Churches

An 18 year old teenage girl has been charged with arson for arson and damage to multiple churches in Orem, Utah.

Arson and damage to churches

Photo by: Joe Lodge

Two churches in Orem, Utah were damaged by an individual who broke doors and wrote satanic messages in permanent marker. Additionally, someone had poured gasoline in or near both of the churches yet only one had been set on fire. Police were able to quickly extinguish the small fires found within the single church. While attempting to locate the individual responsible, police located 18 year old Jillian Robinson of Lindon, Utah who was in possession of a permanent marker, burglary tools, gasoline, and a lighter. Police determined Robinson to be the one responsible after her possessions matched those possibly used to damage and commit arson to the churches. While originally denying her involvement, Robinson later admitted to police that she was angry and did not target the church specifically.

Arson and other charges

Robinson was booked into the Utah County jail on charges of arson, burglary, possessing burglary tools as well as criminal mischief. Utah Code 76-6-102 states “A person is guilty of arson if, under the circumstances not amounting to aggravated arson, the person by means of fire or explosives unlawfully and intentionally damages . . . the property of another.” Arson is a second degree felony if the damages of the event exceeds $5,000 in value. The damage caused by Robinson is said to be estimated around $600,000. Beyond the second degree arson charge, the 18 year old Robinson is also facing a third degree felony burglary charge as well as additional charges for possessing the burglary tools and criminal mischief.

Dealing with police

Photo by: Scott Davidson

Robinson has already admitted to her crimes and will need a good criminal defense lawyer as she prepares to have her case heard before a judge. Teens and young adults such as Robinson should be educated of their options prior to and following an arrest to avoid unnecessarily incriminating themselves. A couple things to keep in mind:

  • The released information about Robinson’s case does not include whether she consented to a search of her backpack containing the incriminating items or if officers claimed there was reasonable suspicion to suspect her of a crime. Teens should know when they are dealing with police that they have the right to state their lack of consent to a search without getting in the way of police who will search anyway.
  • Records indicated that Robinson agreed to make an incriminating statement to police about her involvement in the arson. It doesn’t state whether or not she agreed to the statement on her own or while accompanied by an attorney. Many young adults and especially teens do not realize that they have the right to request an attorney before they talk to police. Being represented by an attorney will help teens ensure they are being treated fairly and not admitting to more than they should.

Parents of teens and young adults are encouraged to educate their youth on their rights when dealing with police. Being prepared with this knowledge could help teens if they ever should face charges.

Differences between Juvenile Court and Adult Court in Utah

When a teenager in Utah is charged with a crime, it can be handled by either the juvenile court or the adult court and it is important to know the differences between the two.

Juvenile court

Juvenile Court or Adult Court
Photo by: State Farm

Although the juvenile court handles cases of criminal activity by minors, it is a civil court where the goal is not to punish kids but to teach and rehabilitate them while also ensuring that they are not a danger to the community. Utah Code 78A-6-102 states: “The purpose of the [juvenile] court is to:

(a) promote public safety and individual accountability by the imposition of appropriate sanctions on persons who have committed acts in violation of law;

(b) order appropriate measures to promote guidance and control, preferably in the minor’s own home, as an aid in the prevention of future unlawful conduct and the development of responsible citizenship;

(c) where appropriate, order rehabilitation, reeducation, and treatment for persons who have committed acts bringing them within the court’s jurisdiction;

(d) adjudicate matters that relate to minors who are beyond parental or adult control and to establish appropriate authority over these minors by means of placement and control orders;

(e) adjudicate matters that relate to abused, neglected, and dependent children and to provide care and protection for minors by placement, protection, and custody orders;

(f) remove a minor from parental custody only where the minor’s safety or welfare, or the public safety, may not otherwise be adequately safeguarded; and

(g) consistent with the ends of justice, act in the best interests of the minor in all cases and preserve and strengthen family ties.”

Adult criminal court

If a teenager is charged with a felony listed under Utah’s Serious Youth Offender Act (78A-6-7), their case can be transferred to adult court where they can face serious repercussions including hefty fines and lengthy imprisonment. Offenses that are included in the Serious Youth Offender Act include:

• aggravated cases of arson;
• assault;
• kidnapping;
• burglary;
• robbery; and
• sexual assault; as well as
• felony discharge of a firearm;
• attempted aggravated murder; or
• attempted murder; or
• any subsequent offense involving the use of a dangerous weapon;

Juvenile defense attorney

Unfortunately in adult court, it is less lenient that juvenile court and those facing adult criminal charges should expect their sentencing to include more punishment without so much focus on education and rehabilitation. Additionally, once a case goes to adult court, those records which include the juvenile’s name are released to the public. For these reasons, it is imperative that juveniles and their parents and/or guardians seek counsel from a criminal defense attorney who has dealings with both the juvenile court as well as the adult court, and who will try diligently to keep all cases against minors within the juvenile court jurisdiction.

Fourth Graders Facing Felony Arson Charges for Torching School Shed

Two fourth graders are facing felony charges for arson after torching a shed near a school in St. George Utah.

Arson
Photo by: Bastian

Flammable shop supplies

Fire crews responded to a report of an outbuilding on fire near Pine View Middle School in southern Utah last Tuesday evening. Upon arriving, authorities confirmed that the building on fire was a shed which housed numerous supplies for the nearby shop class. The shed and supplies were a complete loss, nearby windows to the school were blown out from the heat, and the fire was determined to have been arson.

Poor use of time

The two arson suspects, a 9 year old and a 10 year old, were observed on video surveillance and were determined to be the sole participants of the arson. The children were too young to be students of the school and had likely just started the fire for fun or out of boredom. Little did they know, their poor use of free time resulted in thousands of dollars in damage to the school and felony arson charges for them.

Photo by: Dani Vázquez
Photo by: Dani Vázquez

Arson

Utah Code 79-6-102 states “A person is guilty of arson if ( . . . ) by means of fire or explosives, the person unlawfully and intentionally damages (. . . ) the property of another.” The charges for arson can vary from a class B misdemeanor to a first degree felony (aggravated arson), depending on the cost of the damage and if anyone was harmed. Although no one was hurt in the school shed fire, the damage to the shed and supplies exceeded $5,000. For this reason, the two elementary school students in St. George are facing 2nd degree felony charges.

Do you know where your children are?

It is known at this time how long the children were without adult supervision, but it doesn’t take long for them to get into trouble. It is always a wise decision to keep close tabs on kids, especially those not mature enough to be trusted to make good decisions. For those times when youth commit crimes while out of parent’s radar even for a brief moment, a juvenile defense attorney is recommended.

Utah Firework Laws

With the 4th of July around the corner, kids are eager to get their hands on the biggest festive explosives out there; however everyone needs to be aware and abide by Utah firework laws in place.

Photo by: Adam Carter
Photo by: Adam Carter

Age restrictions

No child under the age of 16 is permitted to handle or light fireworks in the state of Utah. All firework activity by teens 16 or older should be done while under adult supervision. Younger children are recommended to watch and enjoy fireworks from a safe distance.

Firework permitted zones

With little to no precipitation and extremely hot conditions around the state, almost every tree and shrub is a potential fire hazard. For this reason The Utah Department of public safety has listed firework restrictions and maps for most cities and counties in the state. Fireworks are allowed in these zones but are only lawful between July 1-7 and July 21-27. Even in permitted zones, there are precautions that parents and older children should take to prevent a fire.

  • A fire extinguisher, hose, or bucket of water should be readily available in case of problems.
  • Fireworks should never be used in washes or any area of dense brush and trees.
  • One firework at a time. Discard duds, never relight.
  • Only use fireworks that are permitted in the state of Utah and never buy from an unlicensed vendor.
  • Protect yourself and onlookers from injury by wearing protective eyewear and having a designated spot to light the fireworks away from crowds.
  • Never use fireworks in a state or national park, as they are prohibited.

Avoid penalties for unlawful firework use

Parents and kids need to be educated on Utah firework laws and appropriate areas for safe firework fun. For those that fail to follow Utah firework laws or for those that cause damage to wildlife, buildings, or persons due to neglectful use of fireworks, criminal penalties may ensue. For legal assistance in handling adult or juvenile criminal charges related to fireworks, contact a defense attorney today.

Teenager High on Meth Starts Home Fires

Earlier this month, a teenager who was high on meth started two home fires in Harrison Township, Pennsylvania. 19 year old Sean Hallam got high on cough syrup and meth and went out looking for trouble. Hallam made what’s commonly called a firebomb or a poor man’s grenade that has a mixture of flammable materials and a wick. This concoction Hallam prepared was used to set two random homes on fire. One home was completely consumed by the fire. This first fire almost killed a grandmother and her 18 year old grandson, who were among two families living in that residence. Fortunately, witnesses were able to save them in time. The fire at the second home was discovered quickly and extinguished.

Photo by: Pablo
Photo by: Pablo

High and bored with time to “kill”

Many home fires started by teenagers are accidental. Seen frequently is a teen with a lighter, too much time on their hands, and ignorance. In these cases, teenagers may be charged with arson, if charged at all. When the fires are set on purpose and put others in danger, those charges can change dramatically. In the case with Sean Hallam, even though he was under the influence of meth, he willingly committed arson to homes that were undeniably occupied. Because of this he is also being charged with 8 counts of attempted homicide.

News flash-Teenagers make poor decisions

Teenagers are known for making decisions that are immature and thoughtless. Meth and other drugs will decrease a teenager’s ability to think clearly and forecast outcomes to their poor choices. If your teenager is facing charges for decisions they made while high on meth or other narcotics, contact a criminal defense attorney to hopefully get your son or daughter a stint in a drug treatment facility instead of jail.