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.

19 Year Old Arrested a Second Time after Escape from Police Custody

A 19 year old Utah teen was arrested a second time after he managed an escape from police custody.

Houdini

Photo by: Victor

19 year old Noah Randall Cook was apprehended by Saratoga Springs police after a two day hunt for the teen who had somehow managed to slip away during an arrest. Cook’s original arrest came after he had confronted a female victim in a supermarket, assaulting her while preventing her from leaving or calling for help. Police responded and handcuffed Cook, placing him in the back of the police car. Once at the station, a handcuffed and shackled Cook was able to wriggle his way free and make a break for temporary freedom. After evading police for two days, Cook was located and arrested for a variety of charges including escape from police custody.

Escape from police custody

Utah Code 76-8-309 states: “A prisoner is guilty of escape [from police custody] if the prisoner leaves official custody without lawful authorization. . . Escape under this subsection is a third degree felony”. That section goes on to explain the penalties are increased to a second degree felony if the individual escapes a state prison. The penalties are increased to a first degree felony if the prison is found guilty of aggravated escape, in which a dangerous weapon is used or bodily injury to another occurs.

Prolonging the inevitable

For whatever reason Cook chose to assault and terrify the female victim in Walmart, running from his poor choices was just adding more trouble to his case. Beyond the charges for his actions at the supermarket, Cook is now facing an additional felony charge for his escape from police custody and he may be considered a flight risk, reducing his changes at being able to post bail. For teens and young adults caught breaking the law, please do not resist an arrest. Instead exercise your right to request the aid of an attorney.

Criminal Charges For Lying to Police for a Friend

Many teens will do anything to protect their friends, but lying to police could result in obstruction of justice charges.

Lying to police

Photo by: Carmella Fernando

Talking to police officers can be intimidating to teens and they often feel they need to respond to every question asked. Unfortunately, many juveniles also want to protect their friends and may give dishonest responses to police questioning. They may lie to officers about a friend’s involvement in a crime to protect their friend from legal trouble or to protect themselves from backlash from peers for being a “snitch”. Unknown to many youngsters however, lying to an officer even if the person being questioned is not a suspect in the crime is still against the law.

Obstruction of justice

There are many ways teens may lie or otherwise display dishonest behavior in order to protect a peer. They may flat out lie in response to police questioning or they may throw items away for a friend or even supply transportation or a place to hide. If a person tampers with evidence, helps someone evade the law, or otherwise meddles with a criminal investigation, as stated in Utah Code 76-8-306, they could face obstruction of justice charges. Penalties for obstruction of justice vary from a class A misdemeanor to a second degree felony depending on the crime a person is trying to help their friend avoid.

Prepare for questioning

Photo by: Ethan Lofton

Police officers are allowed to communicate with the public freely, asking questions about investigations or simply shooting the breeze. When this happens, teens shouldn’t feel trapped into answering questions that could incriminate themselves or another person. Preparing for possible inquiries from law enforcement may help teens avoid saying too much or saying things that aren’t true which could lead to legal trouble. Teens should always state their identity if asked by an officer but any further questions do not require answers without legal representation present. The person being questioned can politely ask in response to questioning:

• “Am I being arrested or detained?” ; and

• If the answer is ‘no’, they may then ask “Am I free to go?”

If they are required by an officer to stay and answer questions, ensure all teens know of their right to ask for an attorney and to exercise that right prior to answering any further questions. For more information related to crimes involving minor children and teens, contact a juvenile defense attorney.

Utah Teens May Be Allowed to Vote in Primaries before the Age of 18

Utah teens, many of whom are eager to let their voices be heard may now be allowed to vote in the primaries before they reach the age of 18.

Teen involvement in politics

Photo by: AFGE

Teens all over Utah have been taking a stand regarding political and debate topics, yet until now they have been unable to vote in favor of those who share their beliefs until they reach the age of 18. That barrier has now been changed to allow those approaching adulthood to join in on the primaries before they turn 18 years old.

Amended eligibility for voter registration

Utah Code 20A-2-101 was recently amended to allow teens to register and vote prior to them reaching the age of 18. That section now states: “. . . an individual may register to vote in an election who:

(a) Is a citizen of the United States;

(b) Has been a resident of Utah for at least the 30 days immediately before the election;

(c) Will be:
(i) At least 18 years of age on the day of the election; or

(ii) If the election is a regular primary election, a municipal primary election, or a Western States Presidential Primary:

(A) 17 years of age on or before the day of the regular primary election, municipal primary election, or Western States Presidential Primary; and

(B) 18 years of age on or before the day of the general election that immediately follows the regular primary election, municipal primary election, or Western States Presidential Primary; and

(d) currently resides within the voting district or precinct in which the individual applies to register to vote.”

Register now

Photo by: Tony Webster

Teens who are eligible to vote in the primaries should register soon as the last day to register by mail is approaching quickly with primaries taking place at the end of June. For more information on registering teens to vote, contact the local county clerk’s office.

19 Year Old DUI Driver Charged With Automobile Homicide

A 19 year old Utah teen who caused a fatal accident while driving under the influence was charged with automobile homicide after the body of younger teen was found in his vehicle.

Underage and under the influence

Photo by: Steve Hardy

19 year old Casey James Ziemelius was arrested after police report the teen was driving recklessly and then caused a head on collision while attempting to evade the approaching police. Two people in the vehicle hit by Ziemelius were injured and a 14 year old girl riding with Ziemelius was killed. Ziemelius has been charged with two felonies for aggravated assault and automobile homicide.

Automobile homicide

Utah Code 76-5-207 states: “Criminal homicide is automobile homicide, third degree felony, if the person operates a motor vehicle in a negligent manner causing the death of another and:

(i) Has sufficient alcohol in his body that a subsequent chemical test shows that the person has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 grams or greater at the time of the test;

(ii) Is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle; or

(iii) Has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 grams or greater at the time of operation.”

Criminally negligent

Automobile homicide is not always punishable as a third degree felony. Section 76-5-207 adds: if someone is found to be “operating a motor vehicle in a criminally negligent manner” the charges would then be increased to a second degree felony. Criminal negligence is described by Section 76-2-103 as “with respect to circumstances surrounding [the subject’s] conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise in all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.” Second degree automobile homicide is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.