Utah Teens Arrested for Making Terrorist Threats against High School

Two teenagers in Utah were arrested for making terrorist threats after they were overheard plotting an attack on Highland High School.

Talk about terrorist threats isn’t cheap

Terrorist Threats
Photo by: Steve Snodgrass

According to a family member of a witness, two teenagers who attended Highland High School were heard talking about bringing guns to school and opening fire on other students. Police determined the threat was likely a horrible joke and there was no evidence found to verify that the students were even capable of carrying out such a violent act. Regardless, both teens are facing serious criminal charges for their empty threats.

Implied threat to commit

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: ( . . . ) Cause[s] 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.” That section of Utah Code also states that “it is not a defense under this section that the person did not attempt to carry out or was incapable of carrying out the threat.” Also noted is that “a threat ( . . . ) may be express[ed] or implied.”

Angry adolescents or terrorists in the making

Whether or not the students were literally making terrorist threats against the school or just blowing off steam is irrelevant to law enforcement who take any terrorist threat very seriously. The two teenagers mentioned using firearms and not weapons of mass destruction such as bombs or chemical weapons, so the charges against them will likely range anywhere from a class B misdemeanor to a third degree felony instead of the higher second degree felony. Nevertheless, when teens are facing serious criminal charges such as making terrorist threats, parents are always encouraged to consult with an experienced juvenile defense attorney to ensure the best possible outcome for kids who have made a terrible mistake.

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.

Utah Schools and Other Drug Free Zones

Utah teenagers who have made the unfortunate choice of getting mixed up with drugs should not make a bigger mistake by bringing and sharing drugs near schools or other drug free zones. Although the penalties for drug charges as a whole are starting to relax by not criminalizing drugs as aggressively as violent crimes, they are still actively discouraging them near drug free zones.

Drug Free Zones

Photo by: rachaelvoorhees
Photo by: rachaelvoorhees

Drug free zones are areas where law enforcement wish to deter drug dealers from frequenting due to the probability that young children will be in proximity. The According to Utah Code 58-37-8, drug free zones include areas in and near:

• Schools
• Preschools
• Daycares
• Public parks
• Amusement parks
• Rec centers
• Churches
• Libraries

58-37-8 also states drug free zones include when “in the presence of a person younger than 18 years of age, regardless of where the act occurs […]” Drug free zones previously included areas within 1,000 feet day or night of a prohibited facility, however drug free zones now have been minimized to within 100 feet and only when the prohibited location, such as a school, is open to the public.

Penalties for arrests in drug free zones

In the past, mere possession of drugs in a drug free zone would raise penalties of those arrested. An amendment to this focuses more on the distribution of drugs. If teens take drugs to school with the quantity and/or intent of distributing, or even if they leave a large quantity in their car in the parking lot, they may face charges far greater than if they were off campus. For more information on the recent changes to drug laws or for counsel regarding drug charges for teens in drug free zones, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Disorderly Conduct for Teenagers Fighting in Public

Teenagers are warned to check their behavior while out in the community and to refrain from fighting in public which can result in disorderly conduct charges.

Photo by: emilydickinsonridesabmx
Photo by: emilydickinsonridesabmx

Creating a precarious situation

Public places should be safe for everyone.  If teens have caused a scene in which people feel unsafe or as Utah Code 76-9-102 states “knowingly create[d] a hazardous or physically offensive condition, by any act which serves no legitimate purpose”, they may face charges of disorderly conduct.

Public fighting

Photo by: Megan Leetz
Photo by: Megan Leetz

One way in which teens may cause a hazardous situation is when fighting in public.  Arguments can escalate quickly into fights between friends or foe with no regard of place or audience, which leaves teenagers with the choice of ending the scuffle before it gets out of hand or facing charges of disorderly conduct.  Utah Code 76-9-102 addresses this type of behavior as “intending to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, the person:

• Engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous, or threatening behavior;

• Makes unreasonable noises in a public place;

• Makes unreasonable noises in a private place which can be heard in a public place;[…]”

Although “unreasonable noises” doesn’t specify arguments, any loud noise such as quarreling that gets too loud could constitute disorderly conduct, even if no punches are thrown.

Leave when asked

Photo by: Jeffrey Smith
Photo by: Jeffrey Smith

If teenagers start or continue a fight in public which can cause those around them to be fearful, they may receive an infraction for disorderly conduct.  Law enforcement will usually try and resolve the situation quickly and peacefully by asking those involved to leave.  Continuing with the bout or failure to leave when asked by law enforcement can result in a class C misdemeanor for disorderly conduct.  Any teenagers facing charges such as disorderly conduct from public fighting are encouraged to speak with a juvenile defense attorney.

Vaping Increases among Utah Teenagers

Vaping, otherwise known as using e-cigarettes, is the newest fad among nicotine addicts and this practice is increasing even among Utah teenagers. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “e-cigarette use among middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014 […] rising to 2 million students.” Vaping doesn’t show to be replacing regular cigarettes and tobacco products either, as the CDC states that during this same time, “there was no decline in overall tobacco use.

Is vaping a safer alternative?

Photo by: Ecig Click
Photo by: Ecig Click

One of the biggest selling points of vaping e-cigarettes is that they are supposedly a safer alternative to regular cigarettes, cigars, and chew. Studies in favor of vaping have shown that vaping doesn’t deliver the same amount of chemicals as tobacco products. Another health argument is that because e-cigarettes don’t burn like a regular cancer stick, the dangers of tar buildup and smoke inhalation are void. Vaping still delivers nicotine though, which is highly addictive and hazardous for teenagers and their growing brains. Additionally, because the amount of nicotine is added by the user, the chance of a measurement mistake and overdose is dangerously high, if the teenagers don’t first get sick from simply handling the nicotine.

Still illegal for minors

Photo by: Mike Mozart
Photo by: Mike Mozart

Vaping is still relatively new therefore the full health consequences aren’t known at this time. What is known is that it is still illegal in Utah for teenagers under the age of 19. Utah Code 76-10-105 states that minors under the age of 18 who are found vaping or using tobacco products will be fined and have to attend a class. Teenagers who are 18 years old would face similar charges plus a class C misdemeanor for e-cigarette use or possession. Charges can also be added for anyone caught vaping on school property. For a full definition of tobacco and e-cigarette laws as they apply to persons under the age of 19, contact a juvenile defense attorney.