Skirmish between Groups of Teens in West Jordan Ends in Shooting

A skirmish between two groups of teens in West Jordan ended in a shooting last week and felony charges could be pending for one young juvenile.

Fight escalates

Photo by: Peter Anderson

One teen was shot and another arrested after a fight broke out between two groups of teens in West Jordan last Sunday evening. The incident, which is said to not be gang-related started for unknown reasons but quickly escalated to rocks being thrown and a gun being fired. One teen was shot multiple times and luckily did not have life-threatening injuries. Another teen who was said to be a 14 year old male was arrested and could face serious charges for shooting the other teen.

Aggravated Assault or worse

Authorities have not released what charges the teen is facing however it is possible the teen could face felony charges for either aggravated assault or a more serious offense such as attempted murder. Aggravated assault is defined by Section 76-5-103 as “conduct that is:

i. an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another;
ii. a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
iii. an act, committed with unlawful force of violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and

. . .that includes the use of:
i. a dangerous weapon . . . ;
ii. any act that impedes the breathing or the circulation of blood of another person. . . ;
iii. other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.

Aggravated assault is punishable as a third degree felony unless the victim is seriously injured or loses consciousness during the assault at which point the penalty faced would then be a second degree felony.

Increased charges if proven intent

If the teen pulling the trigger had better aim or had the victim been a foot more to one side, the shooting could have been deadly. Some may wonder if the risk of death from the crime would then constitute attempted murder, a first degree felony. Although shooting another individual is likely to cause death, it should not be considered attempted murder unless the shooter pulled the trigger with the intent to kill as stated in section 76-4-101. This pivotal question of intent is likely to arise during legal proceedings however which could dramatically increase the fine and prison term a defendant is facing. Anyone facing aggravated assault charges are encouraged to seek experienced legal representation immediately.

Criminal Charges For Lying to Police for a Friend

Many teens will do anything to protect their friends, but lying to police could result in obstruction of justice charges.

Lying to police

Photo by: Carmella Fernando

Talking to police officers can be intimidating to teens and they often feel they need to respond to every question asked. Unfortunately, many juveniles also want to protect their friends and may give dishonest responses to police questioning. They may lie to officers about a friend’s involvement in a crime to protect their friend from legal trouble or to protect themselves from backlash from peers for being a “snitch”. Unknown to many youngsters however, lying to an officer even if the person being questioned is not a suspect in the crime is still against the law.

Obstruction of justice

There are many ways teens may lie or otherwise display dishonest behavior in order to protect a peer. They may flat out lie in response to police questioning or they may throw items away for a friend or even supply transportation or a place to hide. If a person tampers with evidence, helps someone evade the law, or otherwise meddles with a criminal investigation, as stated in Utah Code 76-8-306, they could face obstruction of justice charges. Penalties for obstruction of justice vary from a class A misdemeanor to a second degree felony depending on the crime a person is trying to help their friend avoid.

Prepare for questioning

Photo by: Ethan Lofton

Police officers are allowed to communicate with the public freely, asking questions about investigations or simply shooting the breeze. When this happens, teens shouldn’t feel trapped into answering questions that could incriminate themselves or another person. Preparing for possible inquiries from law enforcement may help teens avoid saying too much or saying things that aren’t true which could lead to legal trouble. Teens should always state their identity if asked by an officer but any further questions do not require answers without legal representation present. The person being questioned can politely ask in response to questioning:

• “Am I being arrested or detained?” ; and

• If the answer is ‘no’, they may then ask “Am I free to go?”

If they are required by an officer to stay and answer questions, ensure all teens know of their right to ask for an attorney and to exercise that right prior to answering any further questions. For more information related to crimes involving minor children and teens, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Felony Charges for Utah Teen Who Viewed and Reposted Child Pornography Found Online

An 18 year old Utah teen has been charged with felony sexual exploitation of a minor after he views and reposted multiple images of child pornography that he found online.

Viewed and shared

r. nail bradshaw

18 year old Isaiah Weaver of Eagle Mountain, Utah was arrested after authorities discovered the teen had posted pornographic pictures of children on the popular platform Tumblr. Weaver was not the one responsible for producing the illegal pictures or even posting them online originally. According to police, Weaver came across the pictures and after viewing them, he reposted them on his account so he could find them again easily. He now faces two second degree felonies for sexual exploitation of a minor.

Sexual exploitation of a minor

Utah Code

states: “A person is guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor:

(a) 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] it is a separate offense . . . for each minor depicted in the child pornography; and for each time the same minor is depicted in different child pornography.” 18 year old Weaver faces two second felonies for sexual exploitation of a minor, each punishable by one to 15 years in prison.

No filters and unwise choices

With easy, often unfiltered access to the internet available 24/7, many teens are likely to stumble across pornographic material including those depicting children. While accidental viewing of such material will not land a young man like Weaver in prison, intentionally viewing and even privately saving the illegal images is punishable by Utah Law. For more information on child pornography charges or other legal issues that may arise from internet use, contact a criminal or juvenile defense attorney.

Vehicle Burglary

Vehicle burglaries can occur regardless of how upscale the neighborhood, and many of those car break-ins are done by minors from the same area. Whether done out of boredom or to find loose change, breaking into a car is against the law whether or not anything ends up stolen.

Vehicle Burglary

Photo by: Hey Paul

Unlawful entrance to a vehicle can result in criminal charges even if nothing of value is removed from the vehicle. Utah Code 76-6-204 explains that “any person who unlawfully enters any vehicle with intent to commit a felony or theft is guilty of a burglary of a vehicle.” If a teen opens a car hoping to find loose change or a GPS system and all they find are empty soda bottles and fast food wrappers, they are still entering the vehicle with the intent to commit a theft. Burglary of a vehicle is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a large fine.

Other charges

If upon entering a vehicle illegally the teen finds and removes items of value, they will obviously face charges of theft if caught. The punishment for theft depends on the value of the items stolen. According to Utah Code 76-6-412, the charges for theft can range from a class B misdemeanor for theft of items valued under $500 to a second degree felony is the value of the stolen item exceeds $5,000 or is a firearm. There are other possible charges related to vehicle burglary including:

• Possession of burglary tools, a class A misdemeanor if items were needed to break into vehicles as explain in 76-6-205;

• Criminal mischief if the vehicle or any item inside was damaged as described in 76-6-106 with penalties varying depending on “pecuniary loss” during the vehicle burglary; or even

• Aggravated robbery, a first degree felony if the vehicle broken into was occupied by a driver according to Utah Code 76-6-302.

Teens who may view vehicle burglaries as simple, no-risk crimes should be educated on the potential legal outcome that could result from breaking into a vehicle. Those minors already facing charges should consult with a juvenile defense attorney.

Group of Teens Suspected of Robbery in Southern Utah

A group of teens are suspected of robbery in southern Utah after the group physically attacked a man in his apartment, leaving with over two grand worth of items.

Return with criminal intent

The teens in question had been at the apartment previously and had allegedly returned to collect personal belongings. When they arrived back at the apartment the next day, they were said to be in possession of a firearm. Another resident at the apartment not present during the incident stated that the group had physically assaulted another man and threatened him with a gun before stealing several expensive items from the property.

Robbery vs armed robbery

The investigation into the robbery is still in progress and at this time police have not verified whether or not a firearm was used in the incident. Authorities do have names of the teens involved yet more information on formal charges should be forthcoming. The legal penalties for robbery are severe, yet the teens involved could face charges that are increased even more if the use of a firearm is proven. Utah Code 76-6-301 states: “A person commits robbery if:

(a) The person unlawfully and intentionally takes or attempts to take personal property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by means of force or fear, and with a purpose or intent to deprive the person permanently or temporarily of the personal property; or

(b) The person intentionally or knowingly uses force or fear of immediate force against another in the course of committing a theft or wrongful appropriation. “

Robbery is a second degree felony. If teens are found to have used a firearm during the course of the robbery or “cause[d] serious bodily injury upon another . . . “ as noted in section 76-6-302 of the Utah State Code, the charges would then be increased to aggravated robbery or armed robbery, a first degree felony.

Items of little worth

The motive for the robbery is unknown – whether or not the teens were getting back at another person for a transgression or if the teens simply wanted to gain possession of the stolen items. Regardless, revenge or the monetary value of the stolen items in the robbery are of little worth compared to the possibility of lengthy prison terms and fines up to $10,000 if the teens are tried as adults. For more information on felony charges for teens and how the legal system works regarding juvenile crime, contact a criminal defense attorney who handles cases involving teens or adults.