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.

Hurricane Teen Arrested for Graffiti in Multiple Locations

Hurricane Teen Arrested for Graffiti
Photo: GraffitiStencil

On March 19, a Hurricane juvenile was arrested for the graffiti vandalism of 14 different locations around town. At this point, investigators are unsure if the specific tag used by the teen is gang related.

Leave No Stone Unturned… or Untagged

According to a report from KSL News, on Wednesday, March 11, the walls of 14 different locations—including residences, businesses, a school, church, park and city bridge—were vandalized with black spray paint. A little over a week later, a 15-year-old male was arrested in connection with the graffiti vandalism; however, the Hurricane City Police Department says an investigation is still ongoing.

One aspect of the investigation is looking into the specific graffiti tag the teenager used, “CTG.” According to a statement from Hurricane Police, “Officers have found that the letters stand for ‘Crown to Gods,’ but are still working to determine … if this is just juveniles making this up or trying to start a gang.”

Along these lines, the Hurricane City Police Department has asked anyone with more information on the tag to contact them at (435) 635-9663.

Graffiti Vandalism ranges from Misdemeanor to Felony

According to Utah Criminal Code 76-6-107, Offenses Against Property, graffiti is defined as “any form of unauthorized printing, writing, spraying, scratching, affixing, etching, or inscribing on the property of another regardless of the content or the nature of the material used in the commission of the act.”

Graffiti ranges from a class B misdemeanor if the damages caused are less than $300 (including removal costs, repair costs, or replacement costs, whichever is less) up to a second degree felony if the damages exceed $5,000. In the case of the Hurricane juvenile, the damages were estimated at $2,000, which would constitute a third degree felony if committed by an adult, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. In addition, the court will impose restitution in the amount of removal, repair or replacement costs, with an additional $1,000 for graffiti on areas such as overpasses where traffic will be affected by the removal or repair.

Those numbers start adding up to a lot of money that could be spent on art supplies to be used in a more constructive fashion. If your child has been charged with graffiti vandalism, contact an experienced juvenile defense attorney who will look out for their best interest.

Juvenile Attempts to Flee in Stolen Vehicle, Injures Officer in Process

juvenile attempts to flee in stolen vehicle
Photo: Scott Davidson/Wikimedia Commons

On Wednesday, March 11, Salt Lake Police responded to a traffic accident where a juvenile on the scene attempted to flee in what turned out to be a stolen vehicle. Police say it is still unclear how the vehicle became damaged.

The Joy Ride Runs out of Gas

According to a report from KSL News, at approximately 12:54 a.m. on Wednesday, March 11, Salt Lake Police responded to reports of an accident near 1953 W. California Ave. When the officer arrived, he found several men pushing a car with front end damage to some gas pumps.

The officer detained two people while he attempted to figure out what had happened. According to Salt Lake Police Det. Cody Lougy, one of the suspects fought with the officer.

“This individual actually stood up, ran toward the car, got into the stolen vehicle and attempted to flee in the stolen vehicle.”

The officer had to pull the individual out of the vehicle, during which he received several lacerations. Upon arrest, investigators determined that the individual was actually a juvenile who had given the police officer a fake ID card.

The vehicle was stolen from Brigham City, and the juvenile admitted to knowing it was a stolen vehicle. The juvenile was arrested on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle, fleeing, and resisting arrest.

Possession of a Stolen Vehicle is a Felony

According to Utah Criminal Code 76-6-412, knowingly possessing a stolen vehicle is considered theft and is a second degree felony if the vehicle was operable at the time of the theft. When committed by an adult, a second degree felony is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and fine of up to $10,000.

In certain cases, juveniles can be charged in adult court even if they are under the age of 18. One of these instances is when a crime committed by a juvenile would be considered a felony if committed by an adult. This is a serious crime for a kid who was just planning on taking a little joy ride.

If your child has been charged with being in possession of a stolen vehicle, make sure you contact an experienced and sympathetic juvenile defense attorney who will look out for their best interests.