Unlawful Sexual Activity among Teens

Teens who engage in sexual relations with other teens may feel they are legal to do so as long as both parties consent, however sometimes their relations are considered unlawful sexual activity.

Too young for consent

Photo by: Leo Hidalgo

Unlawful sexual activity among teens does not include instances or rape, sodomy or sexual abuse that carries severe penalties for the offender. Unlawful adolescent sexual activity are sexual relations where both parties give consent yet one or more parties are not at an age old enough for consent. According to the Salt Lake County Division of Youth Services, “teens and youth of a certain age range CANNOT consent to sexual activities. Even if a youth gave consent, they are not permitted by law to do so in certain circumstances – and anyone having sexual contact with them could face criminal charges. This rule still applies even if the contact was by a teen or youth with another teenager or youth.” So how young is too young for teens to engage in sexual activity and what are the punishments?

Felony charges

Unlawful sexual activity among teens is considered a felony if there is a major age difference between the consenting teens involved. According to Utah Code 76-5-401.3, teens face third degree felony charges if they are:

• 17 years old and engaging in unlawful sexual activity with another teen 12 or 13 years old, a four to five year age difference;
• 16 years old and engaging in unlawful sexual activity with a teen who is 12 years old, a four year age difference.

Close in age, still against the law

The closer in age the teens who are involved, the less severe the punishments. This law varies slightly if the younger of the teens is a 12 or 13 year old who has barely reached adolescence. Statute 76-5-401.3 states, teens face class A misdemeanor charges if they are:

• 16 years old engaging in unlawful sexual activity with a teen who is 13 years old, a three year age difference; or
• 14 to 15 and engaging in unlawful sexual activity with a 12 year old, a two to three year age difference.
Teens may be charged with class B misdemeanor if they are:
• 17 and engaging in unlawful sexual activity with another teen who is 14 years old, a three year age difference;
• 15 years old and engaging in unlawful sexual activity with a teen 13 years old, a two year age difference.

Even teens who are really close in age or the same age face charges for having sexual relations. The punishment is a class C misdemeanor if the teen is:

• 14 years old and engaging in sexual activity with a teen who is 12 to 13 years old, a one to two year age difference ; and also
• 12 or 13 and engaging in sexual activity with another teen who is 12 or 13, the same exact age.

Almost adults

The laws regarding sexual activity among teens changes once the younger party involved reaches the age of 16 or 17 years of age. 16 and 17 year old do not face charges for sexual relations with other teens their same age. If the other party is an adult, it may still be legal depending on the age difference. Utah Code 76-5-401.2 explains that “a person commits unlawful sexual conduct with a [16 or 17 year old] if [the person] is:

• seven or more years older but less than 10 years older than the minor (…) and the person knew or reasonably should have known the age of the minor;
• 10 or more years older than the minor (…); or
• Holds a relationship of special trust as an adult teacher, employee, or volunteer (…)”.

This statute goes on to note sexual conduct includes any sexual act, inappropriate touching, or indecent liberties with the minor. Charges for the adult involved range from a class A misdemeanor to a third degree felony.

Not just old fashioned thinking

Teens who wish to engage in sexual activity should be warned that refraining from such is not just old fashioned thinking, it is the law. Those who face charges for unlawful sexual conduct should consult with a juvenile defense attorney.

Robbery Plan in Utah Results in First-Degree Felony Charges for Teens

A teen who made a plan to kidnap and rob his old roommate in Utah is now sitting in the Salt Lake County Jail charged with multiple offenses including first-degree felony charges.

Robbery and a beating

Photo by: Geoffrey Fairchild

18 year old Eduardo Michael Miranda-Carmona who the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office list as being a citizen of Mexico got together with a few friends and planned a robbery of someone who used to be his roommate. The roommate was jumped while leaving work, stabbed, tied up, and thrown into the back of a vehicle. There Miranda-Carmona and friends robbed the man at gunpoint, used his credit cards illegally, and dumped him to be found by a Utah policeman on patrol.

First, Second, and Third-degree felonies

The man who was robbed knew Miranda-Carmona as the two were old coworkers and roommates. This, along with security footage likely helped detectives to quickly identify and arrest Miranda-Carmona. He is currently in the Salt Lake County Jail with multiple felony and misdemeanor charges including:

• First-degree aggravated robbery with a weapon (76-6-302);

• First-degree aggravated kidnapping (76-5-302);

• Second-degree aggravated assault resulting in bodily injury (76-5-103);

• Third-degree unlawful acquisition or possession of a finance card (76-6-506.3); as well as

• Contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a class B misdemeanor.

Three other teens involved

Over the next few weeks, police were able to identify and arrest 19 year old John Ewing as well as two under age juveniles in the aggravated robbery case. With multiple felony offenses including two first degree felony charges, all four teens are looking at several years to life in prison for what appears to be a vindictive and maybe financially motivated crime, coordinated by one.

Teen Calls Police, Admits to Selling Marijuana

A teen called police to report about a drug deal gone bad, meanwhile admitting that she was selling marijuana.

Impulsive call leads to criminal charges

Photo by: Martin Cathrae

A teenager girl from Indiana was planning on selling marijuana to a couple other teens when they pulled a gun on her, took the merchandise, and stiffed her on a payment. Upset, the teen called police to report the theft. When officers arrived to take the young dealer’s statement, they observed more marijuana, multiple pieces of paraphernalia, along with scales and other items meant for preparing and selling marijuana.

Thieves caught, all teens arrested

Officers were able to find the marijuana thieves and those two boys along with the dealer and a couple other teens involved were all taken to a juvenile detention center. The two boys who stole from their dealer peer could face charges of possession as well as robbery. The teenage girl who alerted police to the illegal scene may face hefty charges of possession with intent to distribute.

Strict marijuana laws

Photo by: Chuck Grimmett

In the last several years, teens have been observing marijuana laws in neighboring states becoming more relaxed and the younger generation may assume all states are loosening their grip regarding marijuana. Unfortunately, there are still states that hold possession and especially distribution of marijuana as a serious offense. Similar to Utah, Indiana, where the teen was arrested, is another state whose marijuana laws remain incredibly stern.

Charges for selling marijuana

The Indiana teen arrested for selling marijuana could face a class A misdemeanor if under 30 grams or a class D felony if she had a larger quantity to sell. If charged as an adult, which is unlikely given there were no victims in this case, the teen could be facing a maximum of three years in prison. Charges for the same crime in Utah could result in up for five years in prison; up to 15 years for subsequent offenses.

Utah laws for teens

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Teens in Utah need to be reminded that although many states are lifting bans on medical marijuana and even marijuana for recreational use- that is not the case in Utah. Additionally, if/when Utah does get on board with decriminalizing marijuana, it will likely follow suit with other states and only be legal for adults over the age of 21 and only allow distribution from licensed businesses. Teens who are facing charges for possession or selling marijuana should seek legal guidance from a juvenile defense attorney.

Utah Teenager Pretends to Be a Woman Online – Obtains Nude Photos from Young Boys

A 19 year old Utah teenager was arrested after police discovered the teen was pretending to be an woman online in an attempt to obtain nude photos from young boys.

Not a filter

Photo by: David Burillo

Several young boys were reported to have sent nude photos of themselves via social media after being requested to do so by a very attractive woman named “Jessica Ford”. Unknown to the young juveniles, “Jessica Ford” was in fact a 19 year old teenage boy named James Robert Louis Wood who was using random pictures of a woman to gain the boys trust. Wood pretended to be “Jessica Ford” and sent pornographic photos of a woman to the boys, asking them to give pictures of themselves in return; which they did. Over the course of two months, Wood had obtained nude photos from at least eleven young boys. Wood then shared these pictures at school and even sent some to one of the victim’s siblings.

Sexual exploitation of a minor

Woods was charged with dealing harmful materials to a minor and for multiple counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Utah Code 76-5b-201 states “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 ( . . . )”.

“Each minor depicted in the child pornography [and] each time the same minor is depicted in different child pornography” it is considered a separate defense. Wood is facing twelve second degree felonies for sexual exploitation of a minor and ten third degree felonies for dealing harmful material to a minor.

Hefty charges for serious crimes

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So far nothing has been disclosed stating Wood’s intent with the pictures. He may have been posing as a woman and collecting nudes from the boys for his own sexual gratification or it may have been done as a prank; something he could show off at school or used to torment a sibling of one of the boys. Regardless, Wood’s is facing substantial fines and several years in prison and an even longer duration of time on the National Sex Offender Registry. Anyone facing charges related to child pornography is encouraged to seek a reputable criminal defense attorney before appearing in court.

Bomb Threat at California School Made by Teen in Utah

A High School in California received a bomb threat earlier this month and authorities found the call was made by a teen in Utah.

Long distance threat

Bomb Threat
Photo by: Alexandra E. Rust

A 15 year old boy in Utah was arrested for threat of terrorism after he called Chino High School in Chino, California and told them there was a bomb on the property. Staff and students of the California High School were quickly evacuated while authorities determined the bomb threat to be a fake.

Targeted school or random bomb threat

Utah police have not disclosed whether or not the Utah teen had chosen the California high school specifically or at random. At this time, the city or county in Utah where the teen resides is being withheld as is any possible ties he may have had to Chino High School.

Threat of terrorism

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:

i. Threatens the use of a weapon of mass destruction (second degree felony) or;

ii. Threatens the use of a hoax weapon of mass destruction (second degree felony) or

(b) acts with intent to:

i. Intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence or affect the conduct of a government or unit of government (second degree felony) or;

ii. Prevent or interrupt the occupation of a building or a portion of the building, a place to which the public has access, or a facility or vehicle of public transportation operated by a common carrier; (third degree felony) or;

iii. Cause 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 (class B misdemeanor)”

This section also adds that any threat “may be express or implied.”

Juvenile defense

Teens who are facing criminal charges such as threat of terrorism for making a fake bomb threat should be represented by council experienced in handling cases in juvenile court as well as adult court, should the defendant be charged as an adult. Crimes that take place in more than one jurisdiction or state could end in repeated charges, each sovereignty with the option to press charges. For more information on how to handle charge in and out of state, contact a juvenile defense attorney.