Utah Teen Charged With Theft of a Rental Vehicle

A 19 year old Utah teen was arrested on Christmas Day for theft of a rental vehicle after fleeing from police in a U-Haul van that was two weeks late being returned.

Failure to stop for police officer

Photo by: Roland Tanglao

19 year Russian-born United States citizen Murad Mansurovich Kurbanov was spotted in Murray, Utah driving a rental vehicle that had been reported stolen after not being returned on time to the rental company. When officer attempted to pull Kurbanov over in the stolen U-Haul van, he continued on – driving through multiple red lights and recklessly weaving in and out of traffic. Kurbanov eventually ditched the van in an apartment lot parking lot, attempting to pass himself off as a visitor to one of the tenants.

Theft of a rental vehicle

Kurbanov was questioned by police and after his story was not adding up, officers were able to tie him to the abandoned U-Haul and arrested him for multiple charges including theft of a rental vehicle. Utah Code 76-6-410.5 states “A renter is guilty of theft of a rental vehicle if, without notice to and permission of the rental company, the renter knowingly fails without good cause to return the vehicle within 72 hours after the time established for the return in the rental agreement.” Theft of a rental vehicle is punishable as a second degree felony, the same as theft of any motor vehicle as stated in section 76-6-412.

Teens and rental vehicles

Many wonder why a teenager, even an older one, was allowed to rent the U-Haul van in the first place. Several rental vehicle companies require the driver to be 25 years age or older to rent a vehicle with them. Some companies however, allow younger drivers to rent with them but require a young driver fee that could be nearly as much as the daily fee for the vehicle rental itself. Unknown to many, there are in fact quite a few rental companies that let persons as young as 18 rent vehicles which is in line with federal law. According to their website, U-Haul allows teens as young as 18 to rent their drivable trucks while even younger 16 year olds are permitted to rent their pull-along trailers. Regardless of the age of the responsible party, anyone renting a vehicle is expected to return the vehicle or trailer by the agreed upon time or they could face criminal charges.

Teen Vaping Ban

Teen vaping is a growing problem across the nation and in an effort to curb the rising amount of underage users, the FDA is pushing a ban on certain products that appeal more to the younger crowd.

National Youth Tobacco Survey

Photo by: Misha Sokolnikov

According to a news release last week by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the National Youth Tobacco Survey showed “. . . more than 3.6 million middle and high school students were current (past 30 day) e-cigarette users in 2018, a dramatic increase of more than 1.5 million students since last year.” They also noted that “The sharp rise in e-cigarette use has resulted in an increase in overall youth tobacco product use, reversing a decline seen in recent years”. What was originally created as a way for tobacco users to quit may actually be making things worse, especially for teens.

Dangers of vaping

Through education and advertisements, the dangers of tobacco products are well-known among adults and youth. E-cigarettes are still new enough that information about the hazards was not available before millions of Americans had already become accustomed to using them. Now the more that is learned of vaping, the more the FDA wants to limit its availability and use among youth. A campaign to teach teens about the dangers of e-cigarettes or vaping states that “[vaping] can contain dangerous chemicals such as: acrolein, a chemical that can cause irreversible lung damage; formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical; and toxic metal particles, like chromium, lead and nickel, which can be inhaled into the lungs.”

Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan

Photo by: Mike Mozart

With the dangers of vaping known and the use of E-cigarettes rising among teens, The FDA is pushing back on companies that are contributing to this new crisis for the youth. The FDA sent letters to companies that produce and sell e-cigarettes to determine which companies are marketing their e-cigarettes illegally under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco control Act of 2009 and what the five major manufacturers plan on doing to help prevent teens from accessing and using their vaping products. Additionally, the FDA is restricting many fruity and sweet vaping flavors to stores that only allow adults to access. This would stop these appealing flavors from being marketed in areas where kids frequent including convenience stores. Additionally, the agency is pushing a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars which are used by more than have of youth smokers.

Vaping laws in Utah

While rules regarding e-cigarette manufacturers and vendors are updating, the laws punishing underage smoking remains the same. Teens who are caught smoking or vaping before they reach the age of 19 will likely be fined and ordered to participate in a “court-approved tobacco education program” as stated in section 76-10-105. Teen who are 18 years old may face class C misdemeanor charges. For more information on laws regarding the illegal use or sale of tobacco or vaping products, seek legal counsel from a reputable attorney.

Increase in Shoplifting on Black Friday

Shoplifting is a crime that often begins in the teenage years, and surprisingly there is a notable increase in retail theft crimes that occurs on Black Friday.

Black Friday

Photo by: Matt Madd

Many families have been sitting around the table today sharing reasons they are thankful while mere hours later they will be fighting for a place in line to obtain the hottest item on store shelves. While some of the best deals can be found on Black Friday, it is certainly not the day to see the best of people. Beyond those quarreling in line and past others who may be getting physically aggressive with fellow store patrons are other crimes being committed under the radar. Shoplifting is one of these unexpected crimes that can occur despite the increased holiday foot traffic. Also not expected is the extra eyes and cameras being used to catch those taking advantage of the crowds.

Retail theft

Shoplifting is known under the Utah Criminal Code as retail theft. Section 76-6-602 states: “A person commits the offense of retail theft when he knowingly: Takes possession of, conceals, carries away, transfers or causes to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise. . . in a retail mercantile establishment with the intention of retaining such merchandise or depriving the merchant permanently of the possession . . . without paying the retail value of such merchandise.” Shoplifting can also occur if someone alters or removes a tag in order to deprive the merchant of the full retail value.

Teens and shoplifting

Photo by: Mike Mozart

Shoplifting can be done by people of all ages, and teens are definitely not exempt from this crime. Many adults who face problems with chronic shoplifting say the practice started when they were adolescents. Teen shoplifting can begin due to a variety of reasons such as low or non-existent income, peer pressure, entitlement issues and even just for thrills. This time of year, many teens may shoplift because they feel they have no other way of obtaining gifts for their family and friends. Regardless of why teenagers begin shoplifting, most do not understand the legal consequences surrounding this crime. The criminal charges for shoplifting depend on the value of the items lifted. Charges can range from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony and additionally, most stores will also permanently ban shoplifters from ever entering their stores again.

Education and good examples

Before shopping for gifts and other material possessions takes over this season, parents should sit down with their teens and educate them on the laws regarding shoplifting. This is also an opportune time to help teenagers discover ways to make gifts or earn money so they can join in the holiday gift exchange. Teens who may be facing charges for shoplifting and other types of theft should consult with an attorney.

Teen Joyriding in Stolen Vehicle Arrested After Rollover in Salt Lake City

One teen was transported to the hospital and another arrested after rolling a stolen vehicle in Salt Lake City in what could have been a dramatic end to a fast-paced joyriding trip.

Unlawful driving ends in rollover

Photo by: Eric Starck

Late Wednesday night police officers observed a stolen vehicle exceeding the speed limit in downtown Salt Lake City with its headlamps off. After requesting the driver of the vehicle to pull over, the young motorist continued at a high rate of speed, rolling the vehicle shortly after. A teenage girl in the car was taken to the hospital. The 15 year old driver was arrested for charges that could include joyriding or felony theft of a vehicle.

Felony theft of a motor vehicle

In some states, the theft of a motor vehicle is considered grand larceny or vehicle theft. Utah does not categorize vehicle theft in its own category, but instead classifies the crime and punishment depending on the value of an item stolen. According to Utah Code 76-6-412, “theft of property and services . . . is punishable:

• As a second degree felony if the:
o value of the property or services is or exceeds $5,000;
o property stolen is . . . an operable motor vehicle [regardless of vehicle value] . . .”

Joyriding

Not all teens who joyride in another person’s vehicle will face felony charges. There is a difference between felony theft of a vehicle and taking someone else’s car for a spin around the block without their permission. While felony theft of a vehicle is punishable as a second-degree felony, joyriding or “unauthorized control for extended time” could be punishable as a misdemeanor. Utah Code 41-1a-1314 states “. . . is a class A misdemeanor for a person to exercise unauthorized control over a motor vehicle that is not his own, without the consent of the owner or lawful custodian and with the intent to temporarily deprive the owner or lawful custodian of possession of the motor vehicle.” If the vehicle is damaged however, joyriding is then punishable as a third-degree felony.

To borrow or keep?

Since the vehicle driven by the teen was completely totaled in the accident, the teen is likely to face felony charges. Will the teen face second-degree felony theft of a motor vehicle or third-degree joyriding resulting in property damage? It all depends on whether or not the teen planned on giving the vehicle back within 24 hours of taking it. For more information on teen crimes related to theft or borrowing property without permission, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Utah Church Leader Faces Charges for Sexual Abuse of A Teen

A leader of a Utah church group was arrested for sexual abuse of a teen after a young woman came forward with information regarding an incident that occurred seven years ago.

Sexual abuse

A 20 year old Utah woman told authorities that her church leader had non-consensual sexual relations with her when she was 13 years old. Jefferson Cuong Quoc Ngo, who at the time was 18 years old, was arrest on multiple charges including sexual abuse of a child.

Age difference

When a 25 year old is arrested for engaging in sexual activity with a minor, there is no reason to wonder why the perpetrator got in trouble. When an older teen or young adult is arrested for sexual relations with a minor, many may wonder exactly what the laws are regarding such instances. According to Utah Code 76-5-401.3, 12 to 13 year old are not considered old enough by Utah law to engage in sexual activity. Older teens that choose to carry on a sexual relationship with a young teen or “tween” may face felony charges of unlawful adolescent sexual activity while young adults could receive more severe child sexual abuse charges. Once a teen is 16 or 17, they are considered more capable of making decisions regarding their sexual activity, and their sexual partner can be an adult as long as the age difference is not too great.

Non-consensual sexual encounter

Regardless of the ages of the individuals involved, no sexual activity may take place if one of the parties does not consent to it. According to the victim in the case, she did not want to engage in sexual activity with Ngo but was made to believe the encounter was okay because she thought they were a couple. Due to her young age at the time, she was too immature to understand the adult situation she was in and what her rights were. Ngo is facing two felonies and one misdemeanor for his illegal conduct. For more information on legal age of consent in Utah or for questions related to sexual abuse charges, contact a criminal defense attorney.