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.

Teens “Trip-Sitting” Friends under the Influence of Hallucinogens

Parents concerned their teens may be using hallucinogens such as LSD and mushrooms may be shocked to discover the safety of their teen while hallucinating may be up to their friends who are “trip-sitting”.

Trip-sitting

Photo by: Nan Palmaro

Trip-sitting is term used to describe when a sober friend hangs out with one or more other friends while they use illicit drugs that cause hallucinations. While it may appear to be a responsible move to have a sober friend present, most teens are not mature or experienced enough to handle many of the severe situations that can occur when someone is under the influence of hallucinogens. Additionally, many teens may not know who or when to call if an emergency arises.

Hallucinogens

In order to understand what could go wrong while “trip-sitting”, it might be good to understand how hallucinogens works and the adverse reactions that can occur. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Hallucinogens are a diverse group of drugs that alter perception (awareness of surrounding objects and conditions), thoughts, and feelings. They cause hallucinations, or sensations and images that seem real though they are not.” They go on to note that “some hallucinogens also cause users to feel out of control or disconnected from their body and environment.”

Side effects and adverse reactions

NIH also states that some of the common side effects of taking a hallucinogen besides visual disturbances include:

• “Increased heart rate
• Nausea
• Intensified feelings and sensory experiences
• Changes in sense of time”

Some people who hallucinate enjoy their experience while other can have what is referred to as a “bad trip”. When this happens, the user may become extremely uncomfortable with their intensified feelings or they may have hallucinations that are frightening. In instances like this, they may have severe reactions which according to NIH include:

• “Paranoia – extreme and unreasonable distrust of others [and]
• Psychosis – disordered thinking detached from reality”

The teen hallucinating may become violent towards other or themselves as well.

Teen ability to handle situations

While some teens can handle the intense situations that may occur with a bad trip, the majority may not be mature enough to safely handle a hallucinogenic panic attack from a friend. Teens are encouraged to refrain from hallucinogenic use and to tell a trusted adult immediately if they witness a friend displaying behavior that could put themselves or the public at risk.

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.

Adult Runaway from Juvenile Court System

An 18 year old from southern Utah had been listed as a runaway from the Juvenile Court System despite the fact that he is technically an adult.

Adult runaway

Photo by: James Burrage

Social media is sadly inundated with reports of teens who have gone missing or who have runaway. If someone is missing, the online public is quick to share posts in an effort to find the lost and ensure their safety. Often people are missing because they left on their own accord. If the runaway is under the age of 18 but left on their own, everyone is quick to help find them. Once a person reaches the age of 18 however, many assume they are adults and should be left alone to make their own decisions. While this can be true in many cases, if the runaway is leaving a juvenile detention they have not been officially released from, they may not have the right to make the decision on leaving yet.

Extended juvenile court

Many Utah residents think teens who have been in a juvenile system will only remain there until they reach the age of 18. According to the Salt Lake County Division of Youth Services, “The Juvenile Court has the authority to deal with cases involving persons under 18 years of age, persons 18 years or older whose offenses occurred when the person was under the age of 18 and are under the continued jurisdiction of the Court. The Juvenile Court can maintain jurisdiction over any person up to the age of 21. The Juvenile Court can retain jurisdiction concerning persons over the age of 21, who has failed to comply with an order of the court to pay fines/restitution if the order was imposed prior to the person’s 21st birthday.”

Young is good

While most teens are itching to grow up and be adults so they can make all their own decisions, those who are facing criminal charges should be relieved when their cases can stay in juvenile court. Through the Juvenile Court system, teens and young adults may have more of an opportunity for education, rehabilitation, and restitution without the fear of spending time behind bars or ending up with a criminal record. For more information on the Juvenile Court System or for charges that may constitute an adult offense, contact a reputable criminal and juvenile defense attorney.

Sexual Assault Charges for Utah Teen Who Took Hazing Too Far

A Gunnison, Utah teen was charged with multiple charges of sexual assault after a hazing incident was taken too far.

Sexual assault by team member

Photo by: Mike Dupris

Many youth that join high school sports teams will experience a little bit of hazing. While some incidents are innocently done as a fun way to welcome new members to the team, others cross a line and can result in criminal charges for those responsible. Mid-September, a 15 year old freshmen student at Gunnison High School alerted the high school resource officer to a hazing incident that involved the male juvenile being held down and sexually assaulted by a sophomore following football practice. After the boy came forward to authorities, other victims soon followed suit and the 16 year old sophomore was arrested for six first degree felonies as well as five second degree felonies related to the sexual abuse.

Harmful hazing

While the student charged with sexual abuse obviously crossed the line from innocent hazing to criminal activity, other hazing rituals may also be against the law as well. Utah Code 76-5-107.5 states “A person is guilty of hazing if that person [knowing the activity is for those to be or remain a member of any organization] intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly commits an act or causes another to commit an act that:

(a) i. endangers the mental or physical health or safety of another;

ii. involves any brutality of a physical nature such as whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics, bruising, electric shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or exposure to the elements;

iii. involves consumption of any food, alcoholic product, drug, or other substance or any other physical activity that endangers the mental or physical health and safety of an individual; or

iv. Involves any activity that would subject the individual to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, extended isolation from social contact, or conduct that subjects another to extreme embarrassment, shame or humiliation”.

Criminal Penalties

Depending on the severity of the hazing and what weapons of illicit materials are used, hazing may be punished ranging from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony. Any teens facing charges for their involvement of criminal hazing are encouraged to seek the legal counsel of a reputable juvenile defense attorney.