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.

15 year old Utah Teen Facing Multiple Charges for Drunk Driving and Aggravated Assault

A 15 year old teen from Ogden Utah was arrested for a drunk driving incident that left multiple vehicles damaged and other individuals assaulted.

Downward spiral

Photo by: Nick Harris

A 15 year old juvenile who is not being named due to his age was driving a car at excessive speeds while intoxicated when he crashed into multiple vehicles before leaving the vehicle and illegally entering a random Ogden home. There he threatened and assaulted the homeowner as well as officers who had arrived on scene. The teen who was behaving in a drunken and aggressive manner is facing multiple charges including breaking and entering, aggravated assault and driving while intoxicated.

Angry teen or drunk teen

Little is known about the teen involved in the story, however it is possible his use of alcohol heightened feelings of anger and aggression which he took out on innocent individuals such as the homeowner. Alcohol has a tendency to affect teenagers and young adults in different ways: Some lose all inhibitions and become more sociable; others are quiet, maybe bordering on melancholy; and many find their anger and aggressiveness peak when they’ve been drinking.

Alcohol and teen aggression

According to the US National Library of Medicine, aggressiveness is very common among adolescents who use alcohol. They state “. . . a relationship between alcohol/drug use and aggressive behavior is apparent” and that “medium to heavy drinkers expect to experience more aggressiveness after drinking.” The also warn that “alcohol plays a significant role in adolescent deaths due to accidents, homicides and suicides, acts of sexual aggression and criminality.” Hopefully the teen involved will be able to soberly evaluate the choices he made while intoxicated and receive the help he needs to mature into a responsible and calmer adult.

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.

Three Juveniles, One Adult Arrested for Vehicle Burglary Spree

Juvenile vehicle burglary spree
Photo: Kafziel/Wikimedia Commons

Four Cedar City residents, one adult and three juveniles, who were involved in a vehicle burglary spree spanning from August to October were taken into custody in December. On Tuesday, Jan. 20, the adult in the group, 19-year-old Reagan Gurbal accepted a plea agreement for four of the 26 original charges.

Vehicle Burglary from Cedar City to Southern California

According to an article in the Cedar City News, Gurbal seemed to be the ringleader of a group of underage accomplices in the vehicle burglary incidents that allegedly occurred between Aug. 15 and Oct. 18. Cedar City Police connected him to at least 19 of 40 burglaries that took place between those dates, and after being arrested, Gurbal admitted to burglarizing approximately 20-25 vehicles in just one night.

Gurbal allegedly provided a meeting spot for the “gang” to meet both before and after each night of vehicle burglary. At the end of the night, the group would split up the goods stolen during the night. Gurbal also allegedly provided a location to store the stolen goods, which included money, electronics, jewelry, and even firearms.

On Oct. 18, Gurbal and another suspect left Utah and met with other juveniles in Las Vegas, where the vehicle burglary spree continued into Southern California. On Oct. 22, Gurbal and three juveniles—a 14-year-old male, 16-year-old female, and 17-year-old male—were arrested in Victorville, CA.

Gurbal was originally charged with 26 different counts, mostly dealing with theft or burglary, however four of the charges dealt with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. His plea agreement was for two class A misdemeanors of vehicle burglary, a third degree felony theft of receiving stolen property, and second degree felony theft charge. Details haven’t been released as to punishment for the juveniles involved in the case.

Vehicle Burglary Doesn’t Require Breaking In

According to Utah Criminal Code 76-6-204, any person who unlawfully enters any vehicle with intent to commit a felony or theft is guilty of vehicle burglary. However, what is important to understand is that it doesn’t require actually breaking into a vehicle; simply reaching through an open car window to take something that doesn’t belong to you falls under this criminal code.

As mentioned in regards to Reagan Gurbal, vehicle burglary is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 if committed by an adult. If your child has been charged with vehicle burglary, be sure to contact an experienced juvenile defense attorney.

Burglary Convictions for All in Church Vandalism

burglary charges in church vandalism
Photo: The Center for Social Leadership

Two adults involved in the vandalism of an LDS church in October of 2014 were sentenced Monday, Jan. 5, after pleading guilty to burglary and theft. A juvenile who was with them has also entered admissions of burglary and theft in juvenile court.

Familiar Signs and Footprints

On Oct. 15, Tristan Joseph Peterson Hirst, Denver Timothy Bell, and an unidentified 17-year-old entered an LDS church in Duchesne County. According to a report from KSL News just after the incident, it was unclear how the three got into the church as there was no sign of forced entry. However, once inside, doors were kicked in, a filing cabinet was forcibly opened, and several areas of the church were defaced with red spray paint and permanent marker. In addition, church medallions, pins, and approximately $500 were also taken.

Within two days, police had tracked down the suspects after one of the Duchesne County sheriff’s deputies recalled seeing the anarchy symbol which had been spray painted in several areas of the church at the home of Hirst. The officer had been to Hirst’s home for a previous investigation. Shoe prints on the scene also matched Hirst’s shoes. After being detained, Hirst confessed and implicated Bell and the 17-year-old of the burglary as well and then told officers where they could retrieve the stolen goods.

Hirst was sentenced to 60 days in jail, and Bell was sentenced to 30 days in jail for burglary and theft. Both men were fined $900 and ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to repair the damage. The 17-year-old also entered admissions in juvenile court to allegations of burglary and theft and will be responsible for a portion of the restitution.

Burglary Can be Very Serious for Juveniles

According to Utah Criminal Code, burglary is defined as entering or remaining unlawfully in any building or portion of a building with intent to commit a felony, theft, assault, sexual battery, lewdness, or voyeurism. While the theft in this case was considered a misdemeanor based on the value of the stolen good, burglary when committed by an adult is considered a third degree felony or even a second degree felony when it occurs in a home.

A juvenile who commits a felony and is over 16 years old can be considered for trial in adult court. If your child has been convicted of burglary—or any other crime—consult with an experienced juvenile defense attorney who will look out for the best interests of your child.