Felony Charges for Teen Who Received Stolen Firearm

A Utah teen is facing felony charges after receiving a stolen firearm in a drug trade.

Risky business

Photo by: Vulcan Rider

18 year old Matthew Ortega was arrested after a stolen firearm he had received in trade of drugs was linked back to him by the gun owner. Ortega, who had acquired the stolen weapon previously, had posted the gun for sale online where it was seen by the original owner. Law enforcement officers were notified and contacted Ortega, who came clean about how he had acquired the weapon. The firearm had been stolen a few weeks before by another individual and although Ortega was not involved in the burglary of the firearm, he is facing theft charges for receiving stolen property.

Receiving stolen property

When someone is the knowing recipient of stolen property, they may be charged with theft according to Utah Code 76-6-408 which states: “A person commits theft if he receives, retains, or disposes of the property of another knowing that it has been stolen, or believing that it probably has been stolen, or who conceals, sells, withholds or aids in concealing, selling, or withholding the property from the owner, knowing the property to be stolen, intending to deprive the owner of it.” Section 76-6-412 adds that “Theft of property and services as provided in this chapter is punishable:

(a) As a second degree felony if the:
(i) Value of the property or services is or exceeds $5,000;
(ii) Property stolen is a firearm or an operable motor vehicle; or
(iii) Property is stolen from the person of another”.

Since Ortega was just the recipient of the stolen firearm (ii) and that firearm wasn’t taken from another person, but from off their property (iii), he is facing a reduced charge of third degree felony theft. This lesser but still felony charge is likely due to the value of the firearm being between “$1,500 [to] $5,000” as stated in Section 76-6-412.

Legal purchases only

Since Ortega is 18 years old and legally an adult, he will face charges in district court and he could face up to five years in prison. Teens and young adults who purchase items from friends or acquaintances should ensure the items sold are the legal possessions of those listing them for sale. If the buyer has a hunch the items are stolen, they should trust that hunch and not participate in the deal. Teens under the age of 18 or those older who are restricted from owning firearms should refrain from buying or otherwise obtaining a gun to avoid related criminal charges. For more information on charges related to firearms, contact a knowledgeable attorney.

Two Arrested For “Inside Job” Robbery of Phone Store in Utah

Two individuals including an 18 year old from Las Vegas were arrested for an ‘inside job’ robbery of a phone store in Hurricane, Utah.

Prepaid phones and cash

Photo by: Cat

18 year old Jakob Grogan of Las Vegas, Nevada entered a Metro PCS phone store in Hurricane, Utah and stole phones and cash while pointing a gun at the person working in the store. After Grogan fled the scene, the store attendant called police and was able to give an accurate description of the suspect. That description later led to his arrest of the robbery suspect and the store attendant.

Smooth criminals

Police patrolling the streets of a nearby town in southern Utah pulled over a vehicle for a traffic violation and discovered the suspect, Grogan sitting in the passenger seat of the car. Officers were able to match Grogan to the very detailed description given by the phone store employee who just so happened to be the driver of the car Grogan was a passenger in. Both robbery suspect and robbery victim were arrested.

Two arrested, reduced charges

18 year old Grogan was originally facing several charges including armed robbery which is a first degree felony until it was determined that the victim was actually an accomplice to the crime. Following that knowledge, the charges against Grogan were all reduced. He now faces one third degree felony for possession of a firearm by a restricted person along with a handful of misdemeanor charges. The victim/accomplice was arrested for three class A misdemeanors including obstruction of justice.

19 Year old From Southern Utah Facing Nine Felonies for Sexual Abuse of Tweens

A 19 year old from southern Utah was arrested on multiple charges including nine felonies after two tweens came forward claiming to be victims of sexual abuse.

Consensual…and not

Photo by: AK Rockefeller

19 year old Kaden Luwayne Barber was arrested in St. George Friday after two 13 year old girls came forward claiming Barber had sexually abused them. One of the tweens told police she and Barber had exchanged inappropriate messages with each other and had engaged in sexual relations. According to reports, that sexual activity did not take place against her will. The other 13 year old told investigators that Barber had sexually abused her while at his home and that he continued after she asked him not to.

Not of consent age

While Barber is facing charges for taking indecent liberties with one of the 13 year old against her will, he is also facing criminal charges for his sexual activity with the other tween with who the sexual activity was “consensual”. The reason for this is that a 13 year old is not considered old enough by Utah law to give consent for sex. Utah considers all minors under the age of 16 to be too young to consent to any sexual activity. Any teen or adult involved in sexual activity with a minor under the age of 16 will face criminal charges. Once a teen is 16, they and the other party will not face charges as long as the age difference isn’t greater than seven to 10 years, depending on the older person’s knowledge of their age.

Sexual abuse felonies

Photo by: Rae Allen

Barber’s sexual abuse of the two tweens is likely to result in him spending several years behind bars. The 19 year old is facing three class B misdemeanors as well as:

• Two counts of dealing in harmful material to a minor, each a third degree felony;
• Two second degree felonies for sexual exploitation of a minor for producing, distributing, possessing child pornography (exchanging nudes);
• Three second degree felonies for sexual abuse of a child or inappropriate touching of a child under the age of 14;
Aggravated sexual abuse of a child for touching and penetration of genitalia (not amounting to rape) “. . . by force, duress, violence, intimidation, coercion, menace, or threat of harm”, a first degree felony;
• One first degree felony for rape of a child for having “sexual intercourse with a child who was under the age of 14 years at the time of the offense” according to Section 76-5-402.1.

For legal counsel related to sex offense charges or for more information on the age of legal consent in Utah, consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney. For minors facing similar charges, consult an attorney that also handles cases in juvenile court.

Romeo and Juliet Laws in Utah

Older teens who are sexually involved with others near their own age may not have to worry about legal repercussions thanks to Utah’s Romeo and Juliet laws.

Romeo and Juliet laws

Photo by: Rob Zand

Romeo and Juliet laws are in place nationwide to protect teens and young adults from criminal charges for engaging in sexual activity with others. These laws vary depending on how old each person involved is along with the differences between the ages of the two parties. The state of Utah’s consensual sex laws may differ from neighboring states, therefore it is essential for teens and young adults to understand the laws of the states where they live or frequent to ensure their sexual activity is not considered a crime.

Consensual sexual activity

In the state of Utah, if two individuals engage in sexual activity where at least one party is a minor, there may be no legal issues as long as the encounter is consensual. There are some instances where regardless of whether or not both parties concede to the activity, it may be against the law.

When one or both parties are too young. Utah Code 76-5-401.3 explains that “unlawful adolescent sexual activity is punishable as a . . . Class C misdemeanor if an adolescent who is 12 or 13 years of age engages in unlawful adolescent sexual activity with an adolescent who is 12 or 13 years of age [or] . . . if an adolescent who is 14 years of age engages in unlawful adolescent sexual activity with an adolescent who is 13 years of age.”

When there is a significant age difference. That same statue warns that older teens who engage in sexual activity with a younger teen will face more severe penalties than teens closer to the same age. For instance, if a 17 year old engages in sexual activity with a 14 year old, they may face a class B misdemeanor. If the younger party is 12 or 13 year old, the older teen may face third degree felony charges.

When one individual involved is an adult. Once a teen is 16 or 17 years old, they are considered more capable of making decisions regarding sexual activity, even if the individual to whom they are engaging in the activity with is an adult. There is an age limit to this law however. Utah Code 76-5-401.2 notes that sexual activity with a 16 or a 17 year old is against the law if the adult involved is “seven or more years older but less than 10 years older than the minor . . . and the individual knew or reasonably should have known the age of the minor; or 10 or more years older than the minor”.

For more information on Romeo and Juliet consensual sex laws in Utah or for legal help regarding charges related to these laws, contact a criminal defense attorney.

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.