Utah Teen Charged as an Adult for Drug Deal Murder

The trial has been set for a Utah teen charged as an adult for shooting an 18 year old over a drug deal.

Minor drug transaction

Photo by: frankieleon

In February 2017, 17 year old Issac NacDaniel Patton went to the home of 18 year old Tristan Mogedam to purchase marijuana. During the transaction, Patton brandished a firearm and demanded anything else Mogedam had to offer. Patton then fired several shots at Mogedam as the young drug dealer attempted to retreat inside his residence. One of those shots struck Mogedam in the back, piercing his heart. Mogedam was later pronounced dead.

Gang ties

The sale of marijuana between the 17 and 18 year old was a minor transaction, causing authorities to wonder why it escalated to shots being fired. Patton later told police that he was in a gang and thought the young drug dealer was in a rival gang. Since the crime was gang related, charges against Patton were enhanced.

Charged as an adult

Due to the nature of the charges against Patton as a minor, his case was sent to district court and he was officially charged as an adult with his name going public. Utah Code 78A-6-701 states “The district court has exclusive original jurisdiction over all persons 16 years of age or older charged with an offense that would be murder or aggravated murder if committed by an adult.” Patton is also facing other felony charges:

  • aggravated robbery, another first degree felony;
  • second degree felony discharge of a firearm, and
  • third degree possession of a firearm by a restricted person.

Along with the murder charge, Patton’s other first degree felony and second degree felony would also qualify him as a serious youth offender as stated in Section 78A-6-702 meaning he would be charged as an adult. His four day trial in Salt Lake 3rd District Court is set for January 28, 2020.

Adult crimes

Many teens falsely assume their young age grants them immunity against prison time. Any parents with teens who have committed crimes in which they could be charged as an adult should consult immediately with a juvenile defense attorney who preferably handles cases in district court as well.

When Juveniles are Charged as Adults

When a teenager commits a crime, their family may be shocked to discover the minor could be charged as an adult.

Juvenile court

Photo by: Francois Marcotte

Most charges brought against minors will be dealt with in juvenile court, where through education, rehabilitation, and treatment there may be a greater chance of earlier reintroduction to the public without extended time under house arrest or in juvenile detention. There are some instances when charges against minors are taken out of juvenile court however, leaving young teens to face similar penalties that adults would.

Serious felonies

Utah Courts states “There are several circumstances under which a juvenile may be tried in adult court. These include cases where the juvenile is fourteen years or older and has been charged with a serious felony.” Utah Code 78A-6-702 lists some of these serious felonies as:

i. “Aggravated arson
ii. Aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury to another;
iii. Aggravated kidnapping;
iv. Aggravated burglary;
v. Aggravated robbery;
vi. Aggravated sexual assault;
vii. Felony discharge of a firearm;
viii. Attempted aggravated murder; or
ix. Attempted murder; or
(b) [a felony offense with a dangerous weapon when there is a prior incident involving a felony offense with a dangerous weapon].”

Charged as an adult

Once it has been determined that the minor is facing one of these serious felonies, the “judge shall consider only the following:

i. Whether the minor [is repeat felony offender with a dangerous weapon];
ii. [if more than one person is involved], whether the minor appears to have a greater or lesser degree of culpability than the co-defendants;
iii. [if the minor’s role in the offense] was committed in a violent, aggressive, or premeditated manner;
iv. [prior legal trouble];
v. Whether public safety and the interests of the minor are better served by adjudicating the minor in the juvenile court or in the district court [and where they are best able to be rehabilitated].

Legal help for families of minors

Many Utah families expect leniency in court for their children and are surprised when teenagers ends up facing charges in district court where there is the possibility of years in prison. For this reason it is imperative to never assume the system will work in the favor of a minor and instead obtain the legal aid of a qualified defense attorney with experience in handling juvenile and district court cases.

Utah Teen Fleeing Police in Stolen Vehicle Causes Fatal Accident

A Utah teenager fleeing police in a stolen vehicle caused a fatal accident in Santaquin on Sunday.

Fleeing in a stolen vehicle

Photo by: Scott Davidson

Officers from the Payson City Police Department were on the lookout for a stolen truck when an officer on duty spotted a 17 year old juvenile driving the stolen vehicle Sunday night. The officer attempted to pull the teen over, however the teen failed to stop on command and fled. Later that same evening another officer on I-15 near Santaquin attempted to pull the teen over when the teen again failed to stop for police, resulting in a pursuit. While evading the police officer, the teen left the interstate and collided with a vehicle, critically injuring the other driver. That other driver who was a 17 year old female later died from her injuries.

Felony charges

The teenage driver of the stolen vehicle was transported to the hospital for injuries sustained in the accident but will be transferred to the custody of a youth detention center upon his medical release. He will face numerous charges which could include:

• Theft of “an operable motor vehicle”, a second degree felony as stated in Utah Code 76-6-412;

• “Failure to respond to officer’s signal to stop . . . and while so doing causes death or serious bodily injury to another person” another second degree felony (41-6a-210);

• Other felony charges if it is determined the boy was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If the teen’s charges are transferred from juvenile court to district court, he may face several years behind bars. For legal support regarding juvenile cases or those that may involve both courts, contact an attorney that handles both juvenile and criminal defense cases.

Once an Adult, Always an Adult – Juveniles in the Adult Court System

Once an adult, always an adult. This phrase is used to describe what happens to juveniles in Utah when they are convicted in the adult court system.

Serious Youth Offender Act

Photo by: PRSA-NY
Photo by: PRSA-NY

When a teenager 16 years of age or older (and sometimes younger) is charged with serious offenses listed in the serious youth offender act, there case can be transferred to the adult district court. The crimes which can send a juvenile to adult court are found in Utah Code 78A-6-702 and include:

“(a) Any felony violation of:

(i) aggravated arson;

(ii) aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury to another;

(iii) aggravated kidnapping;

(iv) aggravated burglary;

(v) aggravated robbery;

(vi) aggravated sexual assault;

(vii) felony discharge of a firearm;

(viii) attempted aggravated murder; or

(ix) attempted murder; or”

(b) any subsequent felony offense involving the use of a dangerous weapon.

Charged as an adult…and then what?

So what happens to those under the age of 18 years old once they’ve been charged as an adult for one of the above crimes? Well, according to the state of Utah and 33 other states, they are no longer considered minors. Utah Code 78A-6-703 states “when a minor has been [found guilty] to the district court ( . . . ), the jurisdiction of the Division of Juvenile Justice Services and the jurisdiction of the juvenile court over the minor is terminated regarding that offense, any other offenses arising from the same criminal episode, and any subsequent misdemeanors or felonies charged against the minor ( . . . ) the district court retains jurisdiction over the minor for all purposes, including sentencing.”

Once an adult, always an adult

Once an adult, always an adult
Photo by: meesh

The above statute is known informally as “ once an adult, always an adult  “. This means that once a juvenile case has been transferred to adult district court, if the juvenile is found guilty, they will from there on out be considered adults for any other crime committed. According to a bulletin posted by the U.S. Department of Justice, once an adult, always an adult laws “are a special form of exclusion requiring criminal prosecution of any juvenile who has been criminally prosecuted in the past-usually without regard to the seriousness of the current offense.”

Keep things in juvenile court

An attorney who has experience in both juvenile court and adult district court knows how differently sentencing is carried out by each court and how drastically crimes are handled from that point out. This knowledge is why so many juvenile defenders fight to keep cases in juvenile court if possible. For more information regarding serious offenses by minors and how to keep kids out of adult court, contact a reputable juvenile defense attorney.

Utah Teen Considered Person of Interest in Southern Utah Homicide and How a Juvenile’s Case is Transferred to Adult Court

The teen is just 17-years-old, so is officially still a juvenile, although there are possible steps that prosecutors could take in attempting to have him declared an adult and requesting his case be moved to adult court if he ends up being arrested for the crime.

Steps to Take to Have Juvenile Certified as Adult in Utah

First, a prosecutor would file information alleging that a crime was committed which would have been a felony if committed by an adult. At that point, the juvenile court would conduct a preliminary hearing. At that hearing, the prosecution would have the burden of establishing that a crime was committed and that the defendant was responsible and that (with a preponderance of evidence) it would not be in the best interest of the minor or of the public for the juvenile court to handle the case.

There are several considerations that the juvenile court could base its decision on in such a matter, including:

* the seriousness of the offense and if the community would be better protected by the minor possibly serving a jail or prison sentence

* whether the alleged offense could subject the minor to enhanced penalties

* if the offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner

* whether the offense was against person or property

* the maturity level of the minor, including considerations of his home, environment, emotional attitude and pattern of living

* the record and previous history of the minor

* the likelihood of rehabilitation of the minor by use of juvenile court-available facilities

* whether the minor used a firearm

* if the minor used possessed a firearm on or about school premises

As you can see, there are many issues that can be taken into account where there’s a request to transfer a juvenile’s case to adult court. It’s vital that a minor’s potential for being incarcerated in adult prison not be taken lightly. To that end, if you have a child who’s involved in any criminal matter, you should talk to a Utah juvenile defense attorney as soon as possible.

Help Your Child by Getting Him the Legal Help He Needs

You can’t assume that your child’s best interests will automatically be taken seriously. It’s imperative that he or she be represented by a top defense attorney who is experienced in helping kids. Make that important call today.