A Utah teen was released with no charges filed after an investigation into threats of violence he made online.
Report of planned school shooting
A male student at Emery High School in Utah used the social media app Snapchat to make threats of violence towards other classmates at his school. After seeing a Snapchat post that the teen was going to shoot other students, someone alerted police to the threat. The male teen responsible for the frightening post was detained while police investigated the alleged threat.
Taking threats seriously
There is no explanation as to why the teen made the threats toward his peers, however police determined the danger to not be credible. Police interviewed friends of the teen as well as those who may have seen the post on Snapchat. In a case like this, investigators likely searched the teen’s locker, phone, computer and home. Through the investigation however, there was no evidence that the teen actually planned on carrying out the attack. It was likely he said it in frustration or anger.
Threats of violence
According to Utah Code 76-5-107, A person may face class B misdemeanor charges for committing a “threat of violence if:
(a) The person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and acts with intent to place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury, substantial bodily injury, or death; or
(b) The person makes a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force of violence, to do bodily injury to another.”
Although the teen made a verbal or written threat of violence, he didn’t act towards the threat at all and was released without charges. The teen didn’t escape unscathed however. He is facing serious backlash from his peers as well as the community. It is important to teach children the criminal as well as social consequences that can occur from making threats of violence towards others. Teens who end up facing charges are encouraged to seek legal counsel with their parents or guardians.
There are many youth hunters in Utah who join their families for traditional hunting trips. These kids may have grown up surrounded by older family members who have been hunting for years, but they and their parents may not know what is required for them to participate.
Hunting in Utah
Hunting is a big sport in Utah with many kids becoming involved fairly young. Fishing is common for beginners while many kids gradually move on to hunt small game and even larger game, cougar or bear as they get older. Although the State of Utah “encourage[es] Utah’s youth to hunt, fish, watch wildlife and participate in shooting sports” there are some guidelines that must be obeyed as well as education required before they can hunt in Utah.
According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, “In 2008, the Utah Legislature removed the minimum age requirement for hunting small game”. With adult supervision, all kids under the age of 15 are allowed to hunt duck, partridge, pheasant, turkey and waterfowl while those 12 or older may participate in big game, cougar and bear hunts.
Education and parental supervision
Not every child can pick up a rifle and head out hunting with their family. The child must be old enough to understand and complete a hunter education course first. One educated and registered, licensed youth hunters under the age of 15 must be supervised by an adult while hunting, no matter how experienced they are. Utah Code also states in 76-10-509 that older teens hunting alone must have permission from their parent or guardian to be in possession of a weapon and that firearm may not be a “handgun, ( . . . ) short barreled rifle, short barreled shotgun, or a fully automatic weapon” as described in section 76-10-509.4.
A Utah high school student was arrested on suspicion of raping a fellow classmate in a vehicle located in their school’s parking lot.
High school parking lot
18 year old Dylon Hernandez was arrested after a female student came to police stating Hernandez had raped her in a parked car at the local high school. The female student had gone to her car to catch up on homework while Hernandez ditched his class to accompany her. While in the car, Hernandez was reported to have sexually forced himself on the girl, later admitting it and apologizing via social media.
First degree rape
The 18 year old teen, who is legally an adult but more than likely still a senior in high school, was booked into Utah County Jail for rape, a first degree felony. According to Utah Code 76-5-402, “A person commits rape when the actor has sexual intercourse with another person without the victim’s consent.” First degree felony rape is punishable by five years to life in prison as well as a lifetime on the Sex Offender Registry.
No means no
In an effort to fight today’s rape culture, it is imperative to teach teens that although rape is common, it should not be normalized. It is a criminal offense that can physically, mentally, and emotionally harm the victim for years. While teens may be constantly fighting sexual tensions brought on by raging hormones, they must understand that when it comes to sex, no means no; no consent means no. Teens must be taught early the lifelong consequences for the victim including depression and PTSD as well as punishment for the perpetrator including lengthy prison sentences and a permanent record of sexual violence. For more information on legal repercussions stemming from rape or sexual abuse charges, contact a criminal defense attorney.
Many teens see road signs as souvenirs that can be fun to hang from their bedroom walls, however stealing these signs can result in misdemeanor charges.
It isn’t uncommon to see the rooms of teenagers and even college students embellished with signs taken from Utah roads. While some signs are more popular than others, it seems any road sign in a room can be considered a “cool” thing to have.
According to the Utah Driver Handbook, there are hundreds of different signs on the roads. These can include:
• Stop signs;
• Yield signs;
• Railroad warnings;
• Warning signs;
• Regulatory signs; and
• Signs informing drivers they are in a school zone.
These signs are posted for driver safety and instruction and without them, the risk of accident due to driver error increases. These signs frequently go missing however, and often appear in the rooms of local teens. Other signs that may find themselves missing on Utah roadways include street signs that happen to match a person’s name or a mile marker bearing a favorite number or signifying another number of importance to the thief.
One of the most popular signs along Utah highways to go missing is mile marker 420. This number is celebrated among marijuana enthusiasts and is therefore common to wind up stolen repeatedly. Other states including Idaho, Colorado, and Washington have stopped replacing the stolen 420 signs and instead installed mile markers with the number 419.9 to discourage theft. Ironically enough, section 420 of Utah Code Chapter 8 part 4 warns Utah residents that stealing or damaging any road signs, including the 420 mile markers is illegal and punishable as a class B misdemeanor.
Common doesn’t mean legal
While possessing street signs is common, it doesn’t make it legal. Not only could removing or damaging road signs be seen as theft, the missing road signs could cause accidents with injuries that the sign thief could be held responsible for. Teens who wish to decorate with road signs are encouraged to purchase them from vendors and leave those installed on Utah roads alone.
Using the internet to slander or hurt another person such as creating face social media accounts may result in teens facing criminal defamation charges.
Much of the communications going on between teenagers takes place over electronic devices through the use of text messaging as well as social media apps including Instagram, SnapChat, and Facebook. Often when things go sour, teens will take to the internet to simply vent and sometimes to retaliate on those who wronged them. Long ago were the days of whispering gossip in the school halls, as now everything is done from a teen’s cell phone. Malicious posts, IM’s, and even seconds long messages can spread like wildfire on social media, causing a lot of damage in its wake.
Fake social media accounts
One very damaging way that teens may lash out at one another online is by creating fake social media accounts. These fake social media accounts are created to look as though they belong to the other person, leaving the begrudged peer open to ruin the other’s online reputation. Fake social media accounts are simple to set up and usually free as well. All that is needed is an email address which is also simple to obtain and a fake name, or the exact name of the detested teen. Photos can be easily stolen from the profiles of online accounts and teens then have a way to get revenge on those they loathe.
What happens on the internet stays on the internet and leaves a digital footprint there as well. Although social media accounts and email servers don’t require identification and can be created using phony information, law enforcement has ways to tie these malicious accounts back to the person that created them. When online communications are being spread at another’s expense, the aggressor could face criminal defamation charges.
Utah Code 76-9-404 states: “A person is guilty of criminal defamation if he knowingly communicates to any person orally or in writing [or online] any information which he knows to be false and knows will tend to expose any other living person to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule. Criminal defamation is a class B misdemeanor”, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000. Additionally, if any personal information about a minor is shared on the fake social media account without permission, the accused may also face a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Teens who are facing criminal charges for publicly slandering another online are encouraged to immediately seek legal counsel with their parents.