Vehicle burglaries can occur regardless of how upscale the neighborhood, and many of those car break-ins are done by minors from the same area. Whether done out of boredom or to find loose change, breaking into a car is against the law whether or not anything ends up stolen.
Unlawful entrance to a vehicle can result in criminal charges even if nothing of value is removed from the vehicle. Utah Code 76-6-204 explains that “any person who unlawfully enters any vehicle with intent to commit a felony or theft is guilty of a burglary of a vehicle.” If a teen opens a car hoping to find loose change or a GPS system and all they find are empty soda bottles and fast food wrappers, they are still entering the vehicle with the intent to commit a theft. Burglary of a vehicle is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a large fine.
If upon entering a vehicle illegally the teen finds and removes items of value, they will obviously face charges of theft if caught. The punishment for theft depends on the value of the items stolen. According to Utah Code 76-6-412, the charges for theft can range from a class B misdemeanor for theft of items valued under $500 to a second degree felony is the value of the stolen item exceeds $5,000 or is a firearm. There are other possible charges related to vehicle burglary including:
• Possession of burglary tools, a class A misdemeanor if items were needed to break into vehicles as explain in 76-6-205;
• Criminal mischief if the vehicle or any item inside was damaged as described in 76-6-106 with penalties varying depending on “pecuniary loss” during the vehicle burglary; or even
• Aggravated robbery, a first degree felony if the vehicle broken into was occupied by a driver according to Utah Code 76-6-302.
Teens who may view vehicle burglaries as simple, no-risk crimes should be educated on the potential legal outcome that could result from breaking into a vehicle. Those minors already facing charges should consult with a juvenile defense attorney.
Utah teens are being warned of the consequences that may occur from throwing items off overpasses after four Ohio teens facing murder charges made national news.
The four teens whose ages range from 13 to 15 years are facing murder charges after they tosses several items including sandbags from a freeway overpass, killing a passing motorist. The young teens who are not being named due to their young ages could face lengthy prison sentences if convicted. This isn’t the first times teens have unwisely chosen to drop or throw items from overpasses. In October, a group of teens from Michigan were charged with murder after they threw rocks from an overpass, killing a man. In November, a Utah teen was almost seriously injured when someone tossed a bag full of leaves from an overpass, smashing her vehicle window.
Intent or mistake
Teen don’t always have a good rap about making wise choices, especially when surrounded by their peers. Many wonder if the teens involved with throwing items from the overpass did so with malicious intent or if they just made a horrible mistake, not realizing the possible gravity in their choice (no pun intended). Did they expect the items to merely land in the road or bounce of the cars or were they actually out to do as much a damage as possible to both vehicle and human life? Regardless of what their goal was or their understanding on what could happen, the life of the victim was taken and the teens lives will be forever changed as well.
Wrong place to be
Besides the possible murder charges that could occur, teens who make the mistake of throwing items from overpasses could face charges such as of criminal mischief, damage to property, attempted assault, and conspiracy to commit murder. Parents are encouraged to warn teens about the dangers from playing dangerous pranks and remind their older kids that even their presence on an overpass is against the law (Utah Code 41-6a-1401)
Throughout the last few weeks, there have been reported cases of vandalism as well as an uptick of theft of holiday lawn decorations throughout Utah. Many who are caught end up being juveniles.
No one is laughing…
What often starts as a simple prank can end up going too far. Many Utah kids find it humorous to rearrange holiday lawn decorations such as light-up deer into positions that can be seen as sexually-explicit. While the youth may think it is just a joke that can be undone in a matter of seconds, the decorations are often damaged during the prank which can be considered vandalism.
While some instances of vandalism to decorations are non-intentional, other cases are deliberate such as trashing a holiday display or slashing the inflatable Christmas décor. Not only can those responsible face charges for criminal mischief and trespassing, they risk upsetting homeowners who can then become aggressive and dangerous if they catch the vandals in the act.
Beyond the steady amount of vandalism throughout the holidays, the amount of thefts to Christmas décor and lights are growing. A large majority of the items stolen from Utah residents’ yards this year turned out to be the new LED projection lights. These lights are placed a good distance away from homes in order to illuminate as much as the house as possible, yet this puts them in a place that is at the edge of property and easy to steal.
With so many projection lights being stolen as well as decorations being vandalized, many homeowners are installing cameras to catch the thieves and vandals. Unfortunately, those who are caught frequently end up being juveniles. It is important that Utah youth understand the repercussions that can come from vandalism and theft, and are encouraged to choose other holiday activities that will not result in criminal charges.
Late night pranks such as toilet papering and egging houses may seem like harmless fun, but the pranksters could end the night with vandalism charges.
For the next week or more, most youth throughout Utah have a break from school which also leads to a break from curfew and early bedtimes. With this newfound freedom, numerous teens take time away from their electronics to find something more entertaining to do. Late night pranks aren’t anything new; generations of teens have used the nighttime hours to get into a variety of mischief. Regrettably, some of these common rites of passage can essentially lead to vandalism charges.
Not a harmless prank
While some pranks are annoying yet harmless, other pranks such as egging houses are not as innocent. Egging houses can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage ranging from broken windows to entirely redoing a home’s siding. When a prank ends in damage, it is vandalism. Vandalism is considered criminal mischief and is punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the damage. Beyond criminal charges, homeowners who are targeted with the vandalism can press charges as well.
Mom of the year
Most parents understand the risk of criminal charges such as vandalism on a juvenile record and therefore discourage their teens from getting involved in acts of vandalism or criminal mischief. Other parents, the forever children, not only condone vandalism such as toilet papering or egging houses, but may help their kids out with the prank. This was the case for an Ogden Utah mom who helped her daughter and friends egg several houses throughout the Wasatch front. The mother is now facing criminal charges related to the vandalism and it is possible that the youth involved will face charges as well.
There are many safe and legal options out there to keep teens entertained during this winter break. However, for teens who have used this free time unwisely and are facing vandalism charges because of it, contact a juvenile defense attorney as soon as possible.
Fake weapons such as BB guns and airsoft rifles are meant to give kids a safe alternative to the real deal, however they are proving to be a danger to our youth.
Armed gunmen at an elementary school
Each year on the anniversary of 9/11, citizens, police officers, and other government authorities around the country continue to be on high alert for any signs of another attack. On the 14th anniversary of that event, the West Valley Police Department was notified by several callers who witnessed two armed suspects at a nearby elementary school after hours.
Two Utah teens nearly shot over fake weapons
With their weapons drawn, West Valley police officers approached the suspects who thankfully did as they were told and lowered their weapons. Police officers discovered that the two supposed gunmen were only 15 year old boys, and their weapons of choice were nothing more than airsoft rifles with the orange tip colored over. Behaving suspiciously on school property at night while garnishing fake weapons almost cost both of the boys their lives.
Airsoft guns not legal everywhere
Besides the physical danger that fake weapons impose, there is also the risk of charges for having fake weapons such as toys guns in public. So far, there are 5 cities in northern Utah who have laws regarding airsoft guns. Disobeying these laws, such as South Jordan’s law on no airsoft guns in public, could result in criminal charges. For more information on each city’s laws regarding fake weapons or to discuss charges that a minor may have for using a fake weapon such as an airsoft gun in public, contact a juvenile defense attorney.