In Utah, a student of Roy High School has been charged in Ogden’s 2nd District Juvenile Court with one count of possessing a weapon of mass destruction. The 16-year-old boy is accused of plotting to blow up his high school.
Police arrested the student and his alleged accomplice after another student at the school informed law enforcement authorities about the alleged plot to blow up the school during an assembly.
Prosecutors are seeking to try the accused teen as an adult. A judge has set a hearing date in May to decide whether to allow this.
Trying juvenile justice as Adults in Utah
This case brings forth the question of when minors, who would normally be rehabilitated through the juvenile justice system, can be tried as adults. In Utah, it is possible for teens as young as 14 to be tried as adults. Utah has three main processes of trying juveniles as adults:
- Direct file
- Serious Youth Offender Act
Under the direct file method, teens aged 16 or 17 will automatically be tried as adults in Utah if they are charged with murder or aggravated murder. Teens in this age will also be automatically tried as adults if they had been previously committed to a secure facility – a facility that give 24-hour supervision for youth offenders – and are accused of an felony offense.
If a 16 or 17 year old teen is charged with any felony that is listed in the Serious Youth Offender Act, he or she can be tried as an adult. Teens charged with an offense under this act appear in juvenile court for a hearing. If the prosecutor can show that there is probable cause that the crime was committed by the teen, the case is transferred to the district court and the teen is tried as an adult.
Finally, it is possible to try a teen as an adult in Utah if the teen is between 14 and 18 years of age and is accused of committing a crime that would be a felony if it were committed by an adult.
Like the serious youth offender process, the case is sent to juvenile justice and the prosecutor must show probable cause that the teen committed the crime. In addition, the prosecutor must show that it would be contrary to the interests of the child or society for the juvenile court to try the teen. If the judge finds in favor of the prosecution, the case is transferred to district court and the teen is tried as an adult.
Understanding the juvenile justices in Utah is important for any juvenile and his or her parent or guardian. There is a lot at stake. A teen could face a whole host of repercussions-both short term and long term-if tried as an adult.