Utah Students Arrested for Making Terrorist Threats against High School

Three Utah students from Duchesne were arrested for making terrorist threats against their high school after other teens reported the plan to school officials.

Planned shooting and explosion

Photo by: Tony Webster

The three Utah teens, ranging in ages between 14 and 15 were arrested for making terrorist threats after they made plans to build and use a firearm and explosives at their school. Other teens found out about the plan and alerted school officials who immediately contacted authorities and put the school on lockdown. Although no firearms or weapons of mass destruction were found in the boy’s possession or in their lockers or home, authorities did confiscate a couple knives as well as written plans on building an explosive device. The boys were arrested for making terrorist threats and taken to a juvenile detention center.

Terrorist threats

Utah Code 76-5-107.3 states a person makes [terrorist threats] if the person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and:

(a) (i) threatens the use of a weapon of mass destruction . . . ; or

(ii) threatens the use of a hoax weapon of mass destruction . . . ; or

(b) acts with intent to:

(i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence or affect the conduct of a government or a unit of government;

(ii) prevent or interrupt the occupation of a building or a portion of the building, a place to which the public has access, or a facility or vehicle of public transportation operated by a common carrier; or

(iii)cause an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies to take action due to the person’s conduct posing a serious and substantial risk to the general public.”

Making terrorist threats can result in penalties ranging from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony. Threatening to use an explosive on the population of a high school is liable to bring about the higher of those charges.

Motive

At this time there is no known motive as to why the three teens would want to set off explosives at their school. Are they violent individuals who truly wanted to inflict as much pain and damage as possible to their school and peers? Were they acting out towards peers who had bullied or harassed them? Or perhaps this was a troubled attempt for them to gain the attention of their parents, teachers or classmates. As the investigation continues, more will come to light on the mental stability of the teens involved and whether or not this was an actual threat or a petition for help. For more information on crimes committed by teens and how mental health evaluation plays a role in punishment for those crimes, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Party to a Crime in Utah

Hanging out with the wrong crowd has a potential to lead to trouble for Utah teens, and being an indirect party to a crime may result in charges.

Responsible for the actions of friends?

Photo by: Tony Alter
Photo by: Tony Alter

Each teenager has their own agency and is able to choose for themselves if they are going to be law abiding citizens or not. They may plead with their parents to allow them to hang out with friends who have a tendency to get into trouble; perhaps with the intent on being a good example to those friends. Unfortunately, being with others who are breaking the law could result in criminal penalties, even if a minor is not directly involved.

Criminal conduct

Utah Code 76-2-101 states “A person is not guilty of an offense unless the person’s conduct is prohibited by law” however conduct does not have to be the direct action of a crime. Utah code 76-2-202 adds that besides the individual “who directly commits the offense, [every person] who solicits, requests, commands, encourages, or intentionally aids another person to engage in conduct which constitutes an offense shall be criminally liable as a party for such conduct.”

Party to a crime

Party to a Crime
Photo by: Tyrone Daryl

Being a party to a crime does not have to involve direct involvement. It could be driving a friend to a place where a crime is going to be committed. It may consist of rallying with a group of friends while planning to break the law, even if the individual decides to back out at the last minute. It can also involve asking someone to do something illegal, whether or not the request was sincere or not.

No criminal intent

There are times when a teen has no desire of committing a crime or being a party to a crime but ends up with others who do. They may have had no previous knowledge of what was in store and would not have been in that situation if they had known. All teens facing criminal charges for being a party to a crime or in the wrong place at the wrong time should have their parents consult with a knowledgeable juvenile defender to discuss defense options.

Bomb Threat at California School Made by Teen in Utah

A High School in California received a bomb threat earlier this month and authorities found the call was made by a teen in Utah.

Long distance threat

Bomb Threat
Photo by: Alexandra E. Rust

A 15 year old boy in Utah was arrested for threat of terrorism after he called Chino High School in Chino, California and told them there was a bomb on the property. Staff and students of the California High School were quickly evacuated while authorities determined the bomb threat to be a fake.

Targeted school or random bomb threat

Utah police have not disclosed whether or not the Utah teen had chosen the California high school specifically or at random. At this time, the city or county in Utah where the teen resides is being withheld as is any possible ties he may have had to Chino High School.

Threat of terrorism

Utah Code 76-5-107.3 states “A person commits a threat of terrorism if the person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and:

i. Threatens the use of a weapon of mass destruction (second degree felony) or;

ii. Threatens the use of a hoax weapon of mass destruction (second degree felony) or

(b) acts with intent to:

i. Intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence or affect the conduct of a government or unit of government (second degree felony) or;

ii. Prevent or interrupt the occupation of a building or a portion of the building, a place to which the public has access, or a facility or vehicle of public transportation operated by a common carrier; (third degree felony) or;

iii. Cause an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies to take action due to the person’s conduct posing a serious and substantial risk to the general public (class B misdemeanor)”

This section also adds that any threat “may be express or implied.”

Juvenile defense

Teens who are facing criminal charges such as threat of terrorism for making a fake bomb threat should be represented by council experienced in handling cases in juvenile court as well as adult court, should the defendant be charged as an adult. Crimes that take place in more than one jurisdiction or state could end in repeated charges, each sovereignty with the option to press charges. For more information on how to handle charge in and out of state, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Out of State Teen Arrested For Intent to Distribute $25K Worth of Drugs

An out of state teen visiting Utah from Oregon was caught with $25K worth of drugs with the intent to distribute them.

Bringing the party with him

19 year old Sean McDonald from Bend, Oregon was pulled over after police spotted him driving his motor vehicle on a walking path. When officers stopped McDonald to speak to him, they saw three juvenile passengers in the car in possession of cigarettes and also observed a strong odor of marijuana. This prompted officers to search the car where they found $25k worth of various drugs including marijuana, LSD, cocaine, and illegal or prescription pills the teen had brought with him to Utah with the intent to distribute them at the annual Festival of Colors.

Intent to distribute

Utah Code 58-37-8 states “it is unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally (. . . ) possess a controlled or counterfeit substance with intent to distribute.” The criminal charges for intent to distribute depend on what type of illegal substance the person arrested was in possession of. According to the Utah County Jail bookings page, McDonald was arrested and charged with four first degree felonies for possession of LSD, cocaine, and ecstasy with the intent to distribute. He also is facing two second degree felonies for intent to distribute marijuana and prescription drugs.

Wait, there’s more…

On top of the intent to distribute charges, McDonald is also facing three third degree felonies for endangering a minor because of the juveniles in his car as well as two misdemeanors and a traffic violation. That brings his running total of criminal charges to nine felonies, two misdemeanors, and one traffic violation. His bail was set at double the amount he expected to make selling the drugs in his possession. The juveniles in the car that were also from Oregon faced possession charges as well but not intent to distribute as McDonald was the only one determined to be selling the drugs.

Do you know where your teen is?

It is important for parents to know where their teens are at all times and not always assume they are where they said they would be, or even the same state. Teens who have passed the ripe old age of 18 should remember that they will forever be considered adults, and should act as such especially in the company of minors. For more information on drugs charges for old and young teens, contact a criminal defense attorney that also specializes in juvenile defense.

Utah Teenager Crashes Stolen Vehicle into Home

A teenager from Utah was arrested after she crashed a stolen vehicle into a home, causing major damage to the structure.

Taking the family car for a spin

Photo by: Andy Armstrong
Photo by: Andy Armstrong

18 year old Kylee Westenskow from Ogden, Utah was driving a stolen vehicle belonging to her grandparents when she left the road and crashed into a home in Highland, nearly taking off the side of their garage. When police arrested Westenskow they discovered she was did not have her license and was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident.

Possession of a stolen vehicle

The 18 year old, who according to Facebook is a student at Ben Lomand High School, is facing multiple misdemeanors including DUI and reckless driving. She is also facing a second degree felony for possession of a stolen vehicle; a charge that could put her behind bars for as long as 15 years. Utah Code 76-6-412 states “Theft of property and services as provided in this chapter is punishable:

a) As a second degree felony if the: ( . . . ) Property stolen is a firearm or an operable motor vehicle; ( . . . )”

A young felon

At just 18 years old, this teenager who is likely in her senior year of high school will be a felon if convicted for the charge of possession of a stolen vehicle. Even if she doesn’t serve the full sentence behind bars, the label of felon will follow her for seven years after she has finished her sentence and/or probation. This can make it difficult to get housing and employment which is not something a new adult should have to face.

Juvenile and criminal defense

If any juveniles or pseudo adults are facing criminal charges such as possession of a stolen vehicle, contact an attorney who is experienced in helping individuals of all ages.