Knife Wielding Utah Teen Charged With Aggravated Assault after Defending Sibling

A knife wielding Eagle Mountain Utah teenager was charged with aggravated assault after defending his younger sibling from abuse.

Violence for violence

The 16 year old teen who has not been named due to his age was placed into a juvenile detention center after he stabbed his 18 year old brother five times with a knife. The younger teen was trying to intervene to defend his 14 year old sister from their older brother, Steven Johnston, after an argument between the girl and Johnston escalated. Reports state that Johnston began physically assaulting the 14 year old girl when the 16 year old brother came to her aid, using a knife to wound the 18 year old sibling and thereby ceasing the assault on the younger sister.

Charges for both brothers

18 year old Johnston was flown to the hospital to be treated for his wounds and upon his release, will face misdemeanor charges for assaulting his younger sister. Meanwhile, the 16 year old brother is facing felony aggravated assault for using a knife to defend his sister against their older sibling. According to Utah Code 76-5-103, “Aggravated assault in an actor’s conduct that is:
i. an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; ( . . . )
ii. a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
iii. an act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and
that includes the use of:
i. a dangerous weapon ( . . . );
iii. other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.”

No criminal intent

More than likely, the teen did not have plans on assaulting his older brother with a knife that day. In the heat of the moment however, it may have been difficult for him to think of anything other than protecting his sister from harm. It is difficult to ask anyone, especially a minor, to think and act rationally in stressful situations. In hindsight, the teen may have been able to stop the abuse from the 18 year old brother without using a weapon. There is also the chance the abuse could have continued to escalate, further jeopardizing the safety of the little sister. The 16 year old Utah teen chose to ensure the safety of his sister, and may now face up to 15 years in prison. Any minors who are facing charges following a rash decision during a stressful situation or after defending another person from harm, contact a juvenile defense attorney to discuss the defense options related to the case.

Criminal Defamation Charges for Creating Fake Social Media Accounts

Using the internet to slander or hurt another person such as creating face social media accounts may result in teens facing criminal defamation charges.

Tech age

Photo by: Summer Skyes 11

Much of the communications going on between teenagers takes place over electronic devices through the use of text messaging as well as social media apps including Instagram, SnapChat, and Facebook. Often when things go sour, teens will take to the internet to simply vent and sometimes to retaliate on those who wronged them. Long ago were the days of whispering gossip in the school halls, as now everything is done from a teen’s cell phone. Malicious posts, IM’s, and even seconds long messages can spread like wildfire on social media, causing a lot of damage in its wake.

Fake social media accounts

Photo by: Perzonseo Webbyra

One very damaging way that teens may lash out at one another online is by creating fake social media accounts. These fake social media accounts are created to look as though they belong to the other person, leaving the begrudged peer open to ruin the other’s online reputation. Fake social media accounts are simple to set up and usually free as well. All that is needed is an email address which is also simple to obtain and a fake name, or the exact name of the detested teen. Photos can be easily stolen from the profiles of online accounts and teens then have a way to get revenge on those they loathe.

Digital footprint

Photo by: G =]

What happens on the internet stays on the internet and leaves a digital footprint there as well. Although social media accounts and email servers don’t require identification and can be created using phony information, law enforcement has ways to tie these malicious accounts back to the person that created them. When online communications are being spread at another’s expense, the aggressor could face criminal defamation charges.

Criminal defamation

Criminal Defamation
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Utah Code 76-9-404 states: “A person is guilty of criminal defamation if he knowingly communicates to any person orally or in writing [or online] any information which he knows to be false and knows will tend to expose any other living person to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule. Criminal defamation is a class B misdemeanor”, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000. Additionally, if any personal information about a minor is shared on the fake social media account without permission, the accused may also face a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Teens who are facing criminal charges for publicly slandering another online are encouraged to immediately seek legal counsel with their parents.

Pool Hopping and Trespassing Charges

Pool hopping is a popular nighttime activity among Utah teenagers, however it can lead to trespassing charges or serious injury.

Pool hopping

Pool Hopping
Photo by: Andy Blackledge

Pool hopping consists of a small to large group of friends who hop from one pool to another, typically late at night. This is done without permission from the owners of the pool and can take place at hotels, community clubs, private backyard pools, or all of the above. One of the goals of pool hopping is to see how many different pools the group can hop before the night is through or until they get caught.

Busted

One of the known thrills of pool hopping is the possibility of getting busted by the pool owners. More often than not, when the pool hoppers are discovered, the owners of the pool simply chastise the youngsters and nothing else. Those kids who get off with a simple warning however should consider themselves lucky. Others who are not as fortunate end up stunned when the pool owners decide to press trespassing charges.

Trespassing

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In the state of Utah, pools are required to be located behind fences that are secured with a lock in order to protect small children who may wander near the open water. Since the pools are so obviously enclosed, the do not require “no trespassing” signs. Teens that make the mistake of climbing over fences or otherwise unlawfully gain entry to a locked pool building are trespassing, even if they do not plan on doing anything other than swim. Utah Code 76-6-206 states: “A person is guilty of criminal trespass if ( . . . ):

“knowing the person’s ( . . . ) presence is unlawful, the person enters or remains on ( . . . ) property to which notice against entering is given by:

(i) personal communication to the person by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner;

(ii) fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders; or

(iii) posting of signs reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders; ( . . . )”

Trespassing in a pool without permission is a class B misdemeanor unless the pool is located within a home; in that case the charge would be increased to a class A misdemeanor.

Poor choice of summer activity

Photo by: Oregon Department of Transportation

Most teens that go pool hopping are unaware of the legal implications that can result of their nighttime activity or of the possible danger involved. Not only can teens face serious trespassing charges, they put themselves in harm’s way by using a body of water at night when it is more difficult for others to notice if someone in the group is in distress. Teens are encouraged to avoid this criminal summer fun and instead seek permission from pool owners if they have a desire to swim. For those who are already facing criminal charges for pool hopping, contact a juvenile defense attorney regarding legal defense for trespassing charges.

Fight Nights Remain Popular among Teens and Everyone is talking about it

As a popular, yet absurd way to pass the time, fight nights remain popular among Utah teens and everyone is talking about it, even parents.

Boredom buster

Fight Nights
Photo by: Milos Milosevic

Fight nights became popular after the 1999 film Fight Club that glorified organized violence as a fun activity to pass the time. Nearly two decades later, these violent get togethers continue to be a favorite pastime and the younger generation is keeping it going strong. A group of teens in southern Utah recently participated in a fight club as a way to kick off the summer during senior sunrise.

Organized violence

Most fight nights in Utah are at least somewhat organized as someone thinks enough of it to bring boxing gloves to a get together. There are many times when fight nights are well thought out and planned, with some events demanding an entrance fee to participate or view.

Physical injuries

While physical injury is expected, teens often don’t understand that fight nights don’t always end with a simple split lip or bloody nose. Concussions, knocked out teeth, and broken noses or other bones are common and can have unexpected recovery times and medical costs. Beyond physical injuries, these types of events can also damage a teen emotionally.

Emotional injuries

Photo by: Ian T. Macfarland
Photo by: Ian T. Macfarland

While some fight nights only see contestants fighting who desired to participate, others may involve someone calling another person out and putting them on the spot to fight or flee. Teens who originally had no intention to fight may feel pressured to participate to save themselves from being humiliated. Others who refuse or those who lose mercilessly may be publicly taunted and tormented by their peers.

Criminal charges for fight nights

If physical and emotional injuries aren’t enough to deter teens from participating in fight nights, maybe criminal charges will get their attention. Utah Code 63N-10-306 states that “Club fighting is prohibited. Any person who publicizes, promotes, conducts, or engages in a club fighting match is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.” Those charges could result in a year behind bars and a fine of up to $2,500. Parents who allow or even supervise their teens to participate in fight nights can also face criminal charges. As teens attempt to fill their summer with fun and exciting activities, it is important to discourage organized violence as a way to beat the summer boredom.

16 Year Old Utah Teen Charged With Negligent Homicide Following Deadly Crash

A 16 year old Draper, Utah teen was charged with negligent homicide following a deadly crash that took the lives of two of the teen’s classmates.

A car full of inexperienced drivers

Negligent Homicide
Photo by: State Farm

In November, five 16 year old students from Corner Canyon High School in Draper, Utah were driving on north Highland Drive just before midnight when one of the teens who was driving lost control of the vehicle, sending it into a roll. Two of the passengers, Lexie Fenton and Ethan Fraga were pronounced dead at the scene. The other three passengers, Hayden Gale, Romey Kelley, and Lauren Fenton who was Lexie’s twin sister were all transported to the hospital and released a short time later.

Negligent homicide

After a lengthy investigation, authorities determined that the 16 year old female driver was at fault for the death of her classmates. She was formally charged last month with two counts of negligent homicide. Utah Code 76-5-206 states “Criminal homicide constitutes negligent homicide if the actor, acting with criminal negligence, causes the death of another. Negligent homicide is a class A misdemeanor.”

Lesser of the homicide offenses

No details have been released as to why the teen was charged, but it does not appear drugs or alcohol played a part. Had they been, the teen driver could have faced felony charges for automobile homicide. The charges state the teen acted with criminal negligence which according to Utah Code 76-2-103 means “…with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise in all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.”

Juvenile defense

As teens are new, inexperienced drivers it is important for them to understand the safety as well as the legal risks associated with reckless or negligent driving. For more information on potential misdemeanor or felony charges teens may face behind the wheel, contact a juvenile defense attorney.