Felony Charges for Teen Who Received Stolen Firearm

A Utah teen is facing felony charges after receiving a stolen firearm in a drug trade.

Risky business

Photo by: Vulcan Rider

18 year old Matthew Ortega was arrested after a stolen firearm he had received in trade of drugs was linked back to him by the gun owner. Ortega, who had acquired the stolen weapon previously, had posted the gun for sale online where it was seen by the original owner. Law enforcement officers were notified and contacted Ortega, who came clean about how he had acquired the weapon. The firearm had been stolen a few weeks before by another individual and although Ortega was not involved in the burglary of the firearm, he is facing theft charges for receiving stolen property.

Receiving stolen property

When someone is the knowing recipient of stolen property, they may be charged with theft according to Utah Code 76-6-408 which states: “A person commits theft if he receives, retains, or disposes of the property of another knowing that it has been stolen, or believing that it probably has been stolen, or who conceals, sells, withholds or aids in concealing, selling, or withholding the property from the owner, knowing the property to be stolen, intending to deprive the owner of it.” Section 76-6-412 adds that “Theft of property and services as provided in this chapter is punishable:

(a) As a second degree felony if the:
(i) Value of the property or services is or exceeds $5,000;
(ii) Property stolen is a firearm or an operable motor vehicle; or
(iii) Property is stolen from the person of another”.

Since Ortega was just the recipient of the stolen firearm (ii) and that firearm wasn’t taken from another person, but from off their property (iii), he is facing a reduced charge of third degree felony theft. This lesser but still felony charge is likely due to the value of the firearm being between “$1,500 [to] $5,000” as stated in Section 76-6-412.

Legal purchases only

Since Ortega is 18 years old and legally an adult, he will face charges in district court and he could face up to five years in prison. Teens and young adults who purchase items from friends or acquaintances should ensure the items sold are the legal possessions of those listing them for sale. If the buyer has a hunch the items are stolen, they should trust that hunch and not participate in the deal. Teens under the age of 18 or those older who are restricted from owning firearms should refrain from buying or otherwise obtaining a gun to avoid related criminal charges. For more information on charges related to firearms, contact a knowledgeable attorney.

Utah Teen Arrested for Back to School Threat of Gun Violence

A 17 year old Utah teen was earlier this month for a back to school threat of gun violence that left students and parents more apprehensive about the return of the school year.

Back to school

Photo by: Jorge Diaz

Returning to school after a long summer can be tough for kids as they navigate a changed schedule with different teachers and sometimes even a new school. To add to the chaos and uneasiness of returning to class for an Orem high school was the threat of gun violence by a senior the day before classes resumed. The 17 year old girl who was not named due to her being a minor posted a video on Instagram showing her loading a gun and saying: “You ready for your first and last day of school?” Worried parents alerted police to the alarming video and the teen was later arrested for making a threat of gun violence against a school, a threat of terrorism.

Terrorism

The girl may have been serious about her threat of gun violence or she may have been playing a joke. Regardless, she is facing multiple charges including a second degree felony for making a threat of terrorism for her social media post. Utah Code 76-5-107.3 states “A person commits a [second degree] threat of terrorism if the person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and: threatens the use of a weapon [or hoax weapon] or mass destruction. .  or acts with intent to. . . intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” That section goes on to explain that “A threat . . . may be express[ed] or implied.”

No laughing matter

With more kids and parents being on edge following the increase of school shootings around the nation, making a “joke” threat of gun violence ends up not being funny to anyone involved. Kids and teens need to be warned about the ramifications of making these types of serious threats. Those minors and their families who are facing legal trouble following a hoax threat are encouraged to see a reputable attorney to handle the juvenile or district court case.

Three Teens Harboring a Runaway Friend Arrested

Three 18 year old teens from St. George Utah were arrested for harboring their friend who was listed as a runaway by law enforcement.

Missing person

Photo by: chriscom

In a Facebook plea from her distraught father, 17 year old McKenzie Scholzen was reported missing Monday after leaving home to go on a walk and never returning. Jeff Scholzen, McKenzie’s father stated concern for his daughter’s well-being due to suicidal tendencies. Local law enforcement was informed and began investigating the case while the community shared the father’s online post more than eight thousand times in an effort to locate the missing teen. Three days later, McKenzie was located safe and three older teens were arrested.

Road trip

McKenzie was found in a LDS church roughly 40 miles north of her home but hadn’t been there the entire time. The teen along with three 18 year olds had in fact travelled over 800 miles away to northern California before returning to southern Utah. McKenzie who left of her own free will was placed temporarily with a crisis center before being released to her parents. The 18 year olds who weren’t much older than McKenzie but legally considered adults by Utah law were arrested – Luis Rockwood for a warrant and Diego (Jasper) Wellhoff along with Lydia Probst for obstruction of justice and harboring a runaway.

Harboring a runaway

Photo by: Francois Marcotte

McKenzie went on the road trip willingly with her friends but because of her age as a minor, anyone helping her now faces criminal charges. Utah Code 62A-4a-501 states “a person . . . is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if the person:

(a) knowingly and intentionally harbors a child;
(b) knows at the time of harboring the child that the child is a runaway;
(c) fails to notify one of the following, by telephone or other reasonable means, of the location of the child:
i. the parent or legal guardian of the child;
ii. the division; or
iii. a youth services center; and
(d) fails to notify [one of the above persons] within eight hours after the later of:
i. the time that the person becomes aware that the child is a runaway; or
ii. the time that the person begins harboring the child.”

A class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine on top of any other charges faced.

17 Year Old Utah Teen Arrested For Ordering Illegal Drugs from China

A 17 year old Utah teen, who was involved in the overdose death of two Park City boys in 2016, was arrested recently for again ordering illegal drugs from China.

Dark Web drug order

Photo by:
Jakub Hlavaty

A 17 year old female from Park City, Utah was arrested after authorities intercepted multiple shipments of illegal drugs the teen had order off the Dark Web – an anonymous online network known for illegal activity. The teen, whose name is being withheld due to her age, was charged with four second degree felonies for distribution of a controlled substance. One of those charges stemmed from the teen’s role in the overdose death of two boys in 2016.

Overdose deaths of two 13 year olds

In 2016 two Park City Utah boys were found dead after an overdose of a synthetic drug nicknamed “Pink”. The 17 year old female taken into custody this week was alleged to be involved with those boys obtaining that drug from a seller in China. Prior to the boys’ deaths, it is reported they had enlisted the help of the older teen by having her order the drugs and have them delivered to her home. She obliged, and that shipment of drugs later led to the death of the two 13 year old boys.

Young addict

Photo by: katmary (Subject not pictured)

After the deaths of her friends, the teenage girl was open about her struggle with drug addiction; she even went as far as to speak publicly about it. Unfortunately, even though she obviously knew the risk of using drugs -especially from an unknown overseas source- her addiction was too strong and she relented to the craving. Hopefully through the charges against her she will be able to get the substance abuse rehabilitation she needs and not become another victim to the deadly epidemic of addiction sweeping the nation. Anyone, regardless of age who is looking for help with substance abuse is encouraged to call SAMHSA’s national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. Those needing legal counsel stemming from drug charges should consult with an attorney.

When Juveniles are Charged as Adults

When a teenager commits a crime, their family may be shocked to discover the minor could be charged as an adult.

Juvenile court

Photo by: Francois Marcotte

Most charges brought against minors will be dealt with in juvenile court, where through education, rehabilitation, and treatment there may be a greater chance of earlier reintroduction to the public without extended time under house arrest or in juvenile detention. There are some instances when charges against minors are taken out of juvenile court however, leaving young teens to face similar penalties that adults would.

Serious felonies

Utah Courts states “There are several circumstances under which a juvenile may be tried in adult court. These include cases where the juvenile is fourteen years or older and has been charged with a serious felony.” Utah Code 78A-6-702 lists some of these serious felonies as:

i. “Aggravated arson
ii. Aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury to another;
iii. Aggravated kidnapping;
iv. Aggravated burglary;
v. Aggravated robbery;
vi. Aggravated sexual assault;
vii. Felony discharge of a firearm;
viii. Attempted aggravated murder; or
ix. Attempted murder; or
(b) [a felony offense with a dangerous weapon when there is a prior incident involving a felony offense with a dangerous weapon].”

Charged as an adult

Once it has been determined that the minor is facing one of these serious felonies, the “judge shall consider only the following:

i. Whether the minor [is repeat felony offender with a dangerous weapon];
ii. [if more than one person is involved], whether the minor appears to have a greater or lesser degree of culpability than the co-defendants;
iii. [if the minor’s role in the offense] was committed in a violent, aggressive, or premeditated manner;
iv. [prior legal trouble];
v. Whether public safety and the interests of the minor are better served by adjudicating the minor in the juvenile court or in the district court [and where they are best able to be rehabilitated].

Legal help for families of minors

Many Utah families expect leniency in court for their children and are surprised when teenagers ends up facing charges in district court where there is the possibility of years in prison. For this reason it is imperative to never assume the system will work in the favor of a minor and instead obtain the legal aid of a qualified defense attorney with experience in handling juvenile and district court cases.