Utah Juvenile Case Goes Public

A Utah juvenile who was charged with choking an elderly woman while she played the organ at church will now have his case be viewed to the public.

The crime

A 71 year old woman was playing the organ at church late one night in November when someone came up behind her, choking her to the point of unconsciousness. Five months later, DNA evidence left at the scene by the suspect was linked to family members through a DNA database. With the linked DNA, investigators were able to track down a 17 year old boy and charge him with multiple felonies, including aggravated assault.

Juvenile cases and the public

When a juvenile commits a crime, the public may hear about the crime through news outlets when the story is deemed “newsworthy” or when reporters are grasping for any story during a dull week. Usually this information only contains the age of the juvenile and the details of the crime committed. Once the case goes to court, those proceedings are typically closed to protect unless the teen is charges as an adult. This protects the juvenile from public scorn and retaliation while increasing the teen’s chances at rehabilitation and turning instead to a crime free life.

Juvenile case goes public

The judge over the 17 year old boy’s aggravated assault case has decided to let the case go public. What this means:

  • News reporters will be allowed to view and document the public hearing; and
  • Witness testimonies will become public knowledge;

Since it is still in juvenile courts:

  • The teen’s name will still be withheld in an attempt to protect the court proceedings; and
  • No pictures will be taken of the juvenile defendant.

Pros and cons

When a juvenile case goes public, there is always the worry that the public proceedings will have a detrimental effect on the youth. On the contrary, having the case publicized could stop false accusations from surfacing from a public who are drawing their own conclusions while in the dark. Teens facing charges should consult with their attorney about the pros and cons of having a case go public, while knowing their legal counsel will do everything in their power to protect the teens still growing reputation and future.

19 Year old Utah Teen Arrested for Receiving Stolen Property

A 19 year old Utah teen was arrested for receiving stolen property after accompanying a friend to sell thousands of dollars of stolen sports memorabilia.

150k of stolen sports memorabilia

Photo by: Ryan Hyde

An avid sports memorabilia collector in West Jordan, Utah called police in late July claiming his trailer loaded with $150,000 worth of sports memorabilia had been stolen. A week later, the trailer was found burned, but empty. Investigators began to follow leads on the missing memorabilia, eventually posing as a buyer and arranging a meeting with a suspect who claimed to have the stolen goods. During that meeting two individuals were arrested – 33 year old Michael Brandon Morris and 19 year old Mariah Christine Smith.

Indirect theft

During questioning Morris claimed another man had given him the sports memorabilia. Knowing the items were stolen, Morris did not alert authorities but instead priced the items and listed them for sale. Reports do not indicate whether or not his 19 year old accomplice was directly involved but it is possible she knew the items were obtained illegally. Both are facing charges for receiving stolen property.

Receiving stolen property

Utah Code 76-7-408 states, “A person commits theft if he receives, retains, or disposes of the property of another knowing that it has been stolen, or believing that it probably has been stolen, or who conceals, sells, withholds or aids in concealing, selling, or withholding the property from the owner, knowing the property to be stolen, intending to deprive the owner of it.” Punishment for receiving stolen property or being an accomplice in said crime can vary from class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony depending on the value of the property. Any teens who may suspect someone they have been helping is dealing in stolen property are encouraged to alert law enforcement and seek legal counsel from a juvenile defense attorney.

Blended Sentencing for Utah Juveniles

There is a steady debate on whether or not Utah teenagers charged with serious crimes should face juvenile or adult penalties yet the answer isn’t always black and white; this is where blended sentencing comes in to offer another solution.

Adult crimes committed by kids

Blended Sentencing
Photo by: Rae Allen

With the threat of rising violent crimes among Utah juveniles and the desire for public safety, it may seem easy to sentence teenagers as adults and let them spend years to decades behind bars. This only solves a temporary problem of young violent offenders on the streets, yet it will create even greater problems of overly crowded prisons and kids who finish growing and maturing while behind bars with little to no rehabilitation.

Blended Sentencing

Blended sentencing is a way for the juvenile courts and adult courts to work together to give teens charged with serious offenses a chance for redemption while still under the control of the juvenile court. The teens are given a disposition order or sentencing through the juvenile court that can include treatment such as education and counseling following vital mental health and behavioral evaluations and testing while also dealing punishments such as detention, probation, and/or community service. The teens will also have a sentence for their crimes through the adult court that is temporarily taken off the table while they are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts.

Incentive for good behavior

A Second Chance
Photo by: Alyssa L. Miller

After the juvenile disposition or sentencing, teens who respond favorably to treatment and complete their terms in the juvenile system without any problems will not have to face the adult sentence waiting for them. They will finish their time in the juvenile system and be free, reformed adults. If they fail to resolve their criminal behavior and continue to commit other offenses during their juvenile disposition, the adult sentence is then brought back to the table and the teen may face time in adult jail or prison once they are of legal age and no longer in the juvenile system.

Teenagers deserve another chance

The adolescent years are a crucial time of growing and maturing during which most teens are still searching for their own identity while making plans for the future. Their future life as adults should not include incarceration for stupid mistakes they made as kids. Juveniles who are facing serious charges in which they could be charged as adults are encouraged to speak to a juvenile defense attorney about blended sentencing and rehabilitation versus imprisonment.

Teens Who Drink and Drive

Teens and alcohol don’t mix and very often it seems that teens are driving don’t mix either; so what about those teens that do both – drink and drive?

Underage DUI’s

Renee Silverman
Renee Silverman

Teens and young adults under the age of 21 are not legally permitted to drink alcohol and no one of any age should get behind the wheel of a car after drinking. When both of these laws are broken at once and teens make the dangerous choice to drink and drive, the statistics can get ugly. Some of the facts stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are:

• “One in 10 teens in high school drinks and drives.

• Young drivers (ages 6-20) are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration [BAC] of .08%.

• 85% of teens in high school who report drinking and driving in the past month also say they binge drank [more than 5 alcoholic drinks within a couple hours]”

Penalties for teens who drink and drive

Not only do teens need to worry about the dangers of alcohol on a young brain and the messy combination mixing alcohol with driving, teens who are caught driving drunk can expect certain penalties as well. These penalties can include a fine too large for any after school job to afford as well as 48 hours of house arrest or even detention along with probation. Teens who drink and drive can usually expect to lose their driver’s license for anywhere from 6 months until they turn 21 years old. They are also expected to attend alcohol abuse classes.

Not worth it

Drink and Drive
Photo by: Jono Haysom

Making the choice to drink and drive is a choice with more disadvantages than any buzz is worth. If that bad choice is made, it is important to understand how teens fit into the legal system. Teenagers who are facing charges in juvenile court for minor consumption of underage DUI should be represented by a juvenile defense attorney. Those who are facing criminal charges with the possibility of being charged as an adult should speak with a criminal defense attorney. The best bet would be to find an attorney who can handle anything from a juvenile misdemeanor to an adult felony for any charge accrued by a teen.

Utah Parents Should Have a Juvenile Defense Attorney Just in Case

Utah parents should have the number to a juvenile defense attorney just in case their child ever faces criminal charges.

Prepare for everything

Parents often prepare in advance for issues that may affect their family. They will choose a home based on how well they like the school district even before their children are out of diapers. They will have a pediatrician chosen should their child ever need medical care. On a daily scale, they may plan dinner before baseball or dentist appointments around dance recitals. With all the planning that parents do to create some type of order in their home, very few plan what to do if their child should be arrested.

Crimes by minors

As children age, parental supervision decreases. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the parents; just part of life with kids going to school, participating in extracurricular activities, or spending time with friends. Sometimes kids will knowingly make bad choices such as shoplift or drink alcohol. Other times kids will be in the wrong place at the wrong time or unknowingly break the law such as sharing explicit pictures with their friends on phone apps.

Juvenile defense attorney

When a child breaks the law and faces criminal charges, the majority of parents have not researched and saved the number to a chosen reputable juvenile defense attorney. Under stress, they are more likely to make the wrong decision when it comes to defending their child in the juvenile courts, such as letting the courts appoint an attorney for their child; a decision many regret. As with all aspects of life with kids, parents should make preparations for legal help by deciding on a juvenile defense attorney now.