Youth Hunters in Utah

There are many youth hunters in Utah who join their families for traditional hunting trips. These kids may have grown up surrounded by older family members who have been hunting for years, but they and their parents may not know what is required for them to participate.

Hunting in Utah

Youth Hunters in Utah
Photo by: Bob ‘n’ Renee

Hunting is a big sport in Utah with many kids becoming involved fairly young. Fishing is common for beginners while many kids gradually move on to hunt small game and even larger game, cougar or bear as they get older. Although the State of Utah “encourage[es] Utah’s youth to hunt, fish, watch wildlife and participate in shooting sports” there are some guidelines that must be obeyed as well as education required before they can hunt in Utah.

Age requirements

According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, “In 2008, the Utah Legislature removed the minimum age requirement for hunting small game”. With adult supervision, all kids under the age of 15 are allowed to hunt duck, partridge, pheasant, turkey and waterfowl while those 12 or older may participate in big game, cougar and bear hunts.

Education and parental supervision

Not every child can pick up a rifle and head out hunting with their family. The child must be old enough to understand and complete a hunter education course first. One educated and registered, licensed youth hunters under the age of 15 must be supervised by an adult while hunting, no matter how experienced they are. Utah Code also states in 76-10-509 that older teens hunting alone must have permission from their parent or guardian to be in possession of a weapon and that firearm may not be a “handgun, ( . . . ) short barreled rifle, short barreled shotgun, or a fully automatic weapon” as described in section 76-10-509.4.

Utah Sexting Laws

With the majority of Utah kids having their first cell phone by age 10-12, it is important that parents discuss sexting laws and how they apply to minors.

Utah Sexting Laws
Photo by: Summer Skyes 11

Electronic dirty talk

One practice that continues to rise in popularity among Utah teens is sexting. According to dictionary.com, sexting is defined as “the sending of sexually explicit photos, images, text messages, or e-mails by using a cell phone or other mobile device.” While many teens get away with sexting time and time again, it is against the law and will result in criminal penalties if they are caught.

Utah sexting laws

Currently every state has a law that criminalizes sexting that includes images of minors, although many states group sexting in with child pornography or sexual exploitation of a minor. There are three laws in the Utah State Code that teens should be aware of before they send, receive, or share explicit images or videos of other teens.

Sexual exploitation of a minor

According to Utah Code 76-5b-201, “(1) A person is guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor: when the person:

(i) knowingly produces, possesses, or possesses with intent to distribute child pornography; or

(ii) intentionally distributes or views child pornography; ( . . . )

Sexual exploitation of a minor is a second degree felony and charges for sexual exploitation of a minor can be multiplied depending on how many minors are depicted and/or how many times the same minor appears in different pictures or videos.

Giving explicit material to minors

Photo by: Leo Hildalgo
Photo by: Leo Hildalgo

Utah Code 76-10-1206 warns “(1)A person is guilty of dealing in material harmful to minors when, knowing or believing that a person is a minor, or having negligently failed to determine the proper age of a minor, the person intentionally:

(a) distributes or offers to distribute, or exhibits or offers to exhibit, to a ( . . . ), any material harmful to minors;

(b) produces, performs, or directs any performance, before a minor ( . . . ) that is harmful to minors; or

(c) participates in any performance, before a minor ( . . . ) that is harmful to minors.

(2) (a) Each separate offense under this section committed by a person 18 years of age or older is a third degree felony ( . . . )

(b) Each separate offense under this section committed by a person 16 or 17 years of age is a class A misdemeanor.

(c) Each separate offense under this section committed by a person younger than 16 years of age is a class B misdemeanor.”

Distributing porn

Utah code 76-10-1203 states “(1) Any material or performance is pornographic if:

(a) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that, taken as a whole, it appeals to prurient interest in sex;

(b) It is patently offensive in the description or depiction of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, sadomasochistic abuse, or excretion; and

(c) Taken as a whole it does not have serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

If someone shares or otherwise distributes or attempts to distribute pornographic material, adults 18 and older may face a third degree felony for each item of pornographic material shared or produced while 16-17 year olds face a class A misdemeanor, and under 16 year olds face a class B misdemeanor.

Photo by: Maurizio Pesce
Photo by: Maurizio Pesce

What’s posted on the internet stays on the internet

With so many options to “delete” content shared, too many teens have the false sense of security that they can share a picture or video briefly and never have to worry about it again. Unfortunately, what’s posted on the internet stays on the internet. Besides other individuals who screenshot or otherwise save things they’ve been sent online, the internet has a way of somehow storing embarrassing or incriminating pictures forever. It is important to warn teens that sexually explicit images or videos that are shared can resurface and that type of content will result in criminal charges.

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.

Three Teens Arrested Following Purchase of Spray Paint

Three teens were arrested for vandalism following a tip from a store employee alerting police of their recent purchase of spray paint.

Spray Paint
Photo by: Daniel Naish

A memory like an elephant…

Graffiti was discovered at the Park Discovery in Cedar City Utah last week and the tool of choice used to create over $5,000 in damage was spray paint. After hearing about the graffiti, a cashier from a local Wal-Mart alerted authorities to potential suspects. Of all the customers the cashier had encountered, they specifically remembered a transaction that took place between them and a few teenage boys. The reason they remembered the incident is because the boys were buying spray paint.

School project, really

Spray paint has many practical and lawful uses yet when a teenager is in possession of it, eyebrows are immediately raised. Unfortunately for teens who have no intentions of breaking the law, there are other youth who use spray paint for illegal reasons such as huffing fumes or vandalism like the graffiti that happened at Park Discovery. The few who make wrong decisions often cause all teens to be subconsciously or consciously profiled by authorities and cashiers.

Red flag items

There are several items along with spray paint that may become suspicious when certain individuals purchase them. Items that have the potential to be used for vandalism or for cooking up drugs may be acceptable if bought by ordinary shoppers. Those same “red flag” purchases become suspicious when purchased either in excess, by someone fitting a druggie profile, or by a juvenile. Oftentimes those profiled end up being innocent. This is frequently the case for teenagers.

Legal counsel for buying spray paint

Frequently, when kids are wrongfully accused of their intentions with a purchase, all they suffer is a bit of humiliation and trust issues with authority. Sometimes however, they may be facing criminal charges for a crime they didn’t commit; their only crime may be simply buying something while fitting a certain profile. In any case, it is wise to contact a juvenile defense attorney for legal counsel.

Electronic Communication Harassment for Prank Calling

Prank calling is a favorite past time for many teens, but there are times when it can lead to electronic communication harassment charges.

Is your refrigerator running?

Photo by: Bonnie Nacko
Photo by: Bonnie Nacko

According to Utah Code 76-9-201, charges for electronic communication harassment can ensue from merely prank calling a number and being annoying. With prank calls such as these, electronic communication charges can follow when there is repeated contact or any contact after the person being called has asked not to be pranked again. This includes calling and hanging up and unfortunately this law doesn’t seem to apply to telemarketers.

Taking things a little too far

Occasionally, prank calls can take a darker tone when pranksters move from jokes into insults, taunts or threats. If the prank calling causes the person on the other line to be fearful or if the call is threatening or prone to “provoke a violent or disorderly response”, one call is all that is needed to be slapped with electronic communication harassment.

Hi, hi, hi, hey, hello, :), <3, sup, bro, dude…

When friends blow up another’s text messages with repeated IM’s, it is annoying and illegal. Utah code states that this can cause “disruption, jamming or overload of an electronic communication system”, and is technically electronic communication harassment. While this may be innocent and just for fun, make sure both parties feel that way.

Know the limits of the law and who you’re calling

Most prank calls are harmless and take place between friends; however there are individuals that find this annoying prank to be offensive. When a person on the other end of the prank call decides to press charges, minors can expect to face a class A misdemeanor for a first offense or a 3rd degree felony if this is a repeat offense of electronic communication harassment. For more information regarding electronic communication harassment for minors, contact a juvenile criminal defense attorney.