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?
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.
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
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.