Expungement of Juvenile Records in Utah

The past can’t be changed, however it need not be revealed with expungement of juvenile records in Utah. Juvenile court records can be sealed, without ever having to be mentioned again. The crime is not cleared, but repercussions do not need to follow the youth into adulthood.

Juvenile crimes

Photo by: Flazingo Photos

There it is – that “yes/no” box on college applications and job applications following the question: “Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor?” or “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” Older teens and young adults trying to get a job or get into college may wonder when the mistake they made when they were younger will ever be resolved. For anyone still marking “yes” for a crime that happened when they were a juvenile, there is a way to change the “yes” to a “no”.

Expungement of records

Expunging is the same as sealing the record. The court clerk places the records in an envelope, seals it, and writes “do not open unless ordered by a court”. Only the person that committed the crime can have the court order the envelope to be opened. The court looks on the expunged juvenile record as never having occurred.

Requirements for expungement

According to Utah Courts, In order for records to be expunged, the courts must be petitioned. The petitioner must be at least 18 years old, and fulfilled their sentence at least one year prior. The petitioner must not have been charged as an adult nor involved in any moral turpitude. All restitution must have been made. In addition the petitioner has to exhibit rehabilitation. If the expungement is ordered by the court, it is the petitioner’s duty to file with all pertinent agencies.

Time to move on with life

After having the records expunged, that pesky “yes/no” box asking if an older teen has committed a crime will no longer hold them back unless they commit another crime. A good defense lawyer can help open the doors to a different life for a teen with criminal regrets – One where the “yes/no” box can be marked no and the childhood mistake need not be a detriment any longer.

Adult Runaway from Juvenile Court System

An 18 year old from southern Utah had been listed as a runaway from the Juvenile Court System despite the fact that he is technically an adult.

Adult runaway

Photo by: James Burrage

Social media is sadly inundated with reports of teens who have gone missing or who have runaway. If someone is missing, the online public is quick to share posts in an effort to find the lost and ensure their safety. Often people are missing because they left on their own accord. If the runaway is under the age of 18 but left on their own, everyone is quick to help find them. Once a person reaches the age of 18 however, many assume they are adults and should be left alone to make their own decisions. While this can be true in many cases, if the runaway is leaving a juvenile detention they have not been officially released from, they may not have the right to make the decision on leaving yet.

Extended juvenile court

Many Utah residents think teens who have been in a juvenile system will only remain there until they reach the age of 18. According to the Salt Lake County Division of Youth Services, “The Juvenile Court has the authority to deal with cases involving persons under 18 years of age, persons 18 years or older whose offenses occurred when the person was under the age of 18 and are under the continued jurisdiction of the Court. The Juvenile Court can maintain jurisdiction over any person up to the age of 21. The Juvenile Court can retain jurisdiction concerning persons over the age of 21, who has failed to comply with an order of the court to pay fines/restitution if the order was imposed prior to the person’s 21st birthday.”

Young is good

While most teens are itching to grow up and be adults so they can make all their own decisions, those who are facing criminal charges should be relieved when their cases can stay in juvenile court. Through the Juvenile Court system, teens and young adults may have more of an opportunity for education, rehabilitation, and restitution without the fear of spending time behind bars or ending up with a criminal record. For more information on the Juvenile Court System or for charges that may constitute an adult offense, contact a reputable criminal and juvenile defense attorney.

Sexual Assault Charges for Utah Teen Who Took Hazing Too Far

A Gunnison, Utah teen was charged with multiple charges of sexual assault after a hazing incident was taken too far.

Sexual assault by team member

Photo by: Mike Dupris

Many youth that join high school sports teams will experience a little bit of hazing. While some incidents are innocently done as a fun way to welcome new members to the team, others cross a line and can result in criminal charges for those responsible. Mid-September, a 15 year old freshmen student at Gunnison High School alerted the high school resource officer to a hazing incident that involved the male juvenile being held down and sexually assaulted by a sophomore following football practice. After the boy came forward to authorities, other victims soon followed suit and the 16 year old sophomore was arrested for six first degree felonies as well as five second degree felonies related to the sexual abuse.

Harmful hazing

While the student charged with sexual abuse obviously crossed the line from innocent hazing to criminal activity, other hazing rituals may also be against the law as well. Utah Code 76-5-107.5 states “A person is guilty of hazing if that person [knowing the activity is for those to be or remain a member of any organization] intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly commits an act or causes another to commit an act that:

(a) i. endangers the mental or physical health or safety of another;

ii. involves any brutality of a physical nature such as whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics, bruising, electric shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or exposure to the elements;

iii. involves consumption of any food, alcoholic product, drug, or other substance or any other physical activity that endangers the mental or physical health and safety of an individual; or

iv. Involves any activity that would subject the individual to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, extended isolation from social contact, or conduct that subjects another to extreme embarrassment, shame or humiliation”.

Criminal Penalties

Depending on the severity of the hazing and what weapons of illicit materials are used, hazing may be punished ranging from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony. Any teens facing charges for their involvement of criminal hazing are encouraged to seek the legal counsel of a reputable juvenile defense attorney.

Students Arrested for Vehicle Theft after Police Pursuit Ends at Utah School

Two Utah students were arrested for vehicle theft after a police pursuit came to an end at their West Jordan high school.

Stealing a ride to school

Photo by: Mark Walker

While many high school students have a hard time waking up in time for class, two teens in West Jordan were up early enough to steal a vehicle. A few hours before Monday morning classes began, two teens found an unattended truck a couple miles away from Copper Hills High School and decided to take it for a spin. The teens were caught on camera speeding through the neighborhood and damaging some nearby landscaping. Eventually the teens eventually made their way to school where there were spotted by police. Instead of finding a parking spot along with other fellow students, the teens took off at a high rate of speed across the parking lot and into the football field. The teens then fled on foot and were apprehended while trying to hide from police.

Vehicle theft

The 17 year old boy and 16 year old girl who started their Monday morning off with some real life ‘Grand Theft Auto’ were taken to a nearby juvenile detention for evading police and vehicle theft. The penalty for theft in Utah varies depending on the value of the item stolen. When that item is an “operable motor vehicle” as stated in Section 76-6-412, the theft is punishable as a second degree felony. This is the case even if the car is a junker with very low monetary value.

Juvenile defense

Photo by: North Charlston

Unless the charges are serious felonies as listed in Utah’s Serious Youth Offender Law (78A-6-702), most cases involving minors will stay within the juvenile court’s jurisdiction. The juvenile court tends to be more lenient than the district court as they take into account what is best for the minor as well as the public. It is still best to consult with a juvenile defense attorney concerning any charges brought against minors, regardless of the severity of those charges.

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.