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.

Cruelty to Animals a Felony

A recent rash of decapitated cats has police in one Utah city wondering who is responsible and why they would decide to exhibit such extreme cruelty to animals.

Photo: Masatsu

The Clearfield Police are currently investigating the matter. One person reported seeing someone who appeared to be a teenage boy using a knife to cut a cat’s head off. Police don’t know if this case involving decapitated cats is simply cruelty to animals or religious-oriented. Law enforcement noted that there was a case not too long ago involving a man and human skulls, and that situation turned out to involve a religious ritual, so the man was not prosecuted.

Under the Utah Code, a person is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals if he tortures or kills an animal without having the legal privilege to do so. If a person intentionally or knowingly commits aggravated cruelty to animals, that person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, which carries a potential jail time of up to one year. On the other hand, if the person knowingly or intentionally tortures a companion animal, which includes cats and dogs, that individual will likely be charged with a third-degree felony.

Regardless of the charge, as long as a child isn’t tried as an adult, he will be adjudicated within the juvenile justice system. As we’ve mentioned before, the Utah juvenile justice system is focused on a youth’s best interest and the possibility of rehabilitation, not like the punitive-based adult system.

Rest assured that when you consult an experienced Utah juvenile defense attorney, you and your child will be able to better navigate the complex juvenile court system. Take time today and contact an attorney so that you can get your questions answered.