Child Pornography in Utah

Photo courtesy of Washington County Bookings Report

Photo courtesy of Washington County Bookings Report

A marine living in St. George, Utah was arrested Monday for possession of child pornography.  24 year old Richard Anthony Vidal turned himself in on Monday after returning from overseas to his home in St. George, Utah. A search of his home and electronics conducted earlier this year revealed numerous pictures and videos of sexually explicit acts being done to young children.  According to the Washington County Bookings report, he was charged with 5 counts of exploitation of a minor, each one a 2nd degree felony sexual offense.

Child pornography use on the rise

With the computer boom in the last 2 decades, there has also been a surge in child pornography viewing.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “the main sex exploitation offense referred to U.S. attorneys shifted from sex abuse (73%) in 1994 to child pornography (69%) in 2006.”  This jump in statistics over a 12 year period is explainable by the not hard to find or create illegal photos and videos being easily accessed and shared from personal computers, laptops, and smart phones.

Addictive as a drug, an online website dedicated to educate and cease the widespread use of pornography states “On the surface, cocaine and porn don’t seem to have a lot in common but studies are showing that viewing pornography tricks your brain into releasing the same pleasure chemicals that drugs do.” Just like any drug, pornography of any kind including child pornography can be highly addicting. What makes people choose to view child pornography originally isn’t always known. What is crystal clear is that once they view child pornography, it is very difficult for them to not view it again.

No one is immune

Photo by: andronicusmax

Photo by: andronicusmax

Those guilty in viewing and sharing child pornography don’t always fit the mold that society has created. Sure there may be jobless, friendless, sorry looking middle age guys living in their parent’s basement that dabble with child pornography, but child pornography addictions affect people from every walk of life.

  • As previously stated, there was the young United States Marine Richard Anthony Vidal. Vidal’s military lifestyle was probably not lacking on discipline and his free time was undoubtedly limited. Vidal will most likely be court marshaled and be given an unhonorable discharge from the Marine Corps.
  •  Grant D. Smith, a Utah college engineering professor was arrested a few years ago after a fellow passenger on a plane saw Smith viewing explicit images of young girls while in route to Boston from Salt Lake City. Not only did Smith lose his job at the University of Utah, he was put on 5 years of probation where he was not to be in contact with any children under 16 including his own, and he had to register as a sex offender.
  • 34 year old pediatrician Taylor Steven Jerman of Clearfield Utah was found to be in possession of child pornography on his home computers. If convicted of the 8 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor during his next hearing in August, he will likely lose his employment and possibly his medical license.
  •  Steven Powell, 65, grandfather to Charlie and Braden Powell who were killed in a murder suicide by their father Josh Powell, and father in law of Susan Powell who has been missing since 2009, was arrested on Monday for child pornography charges…again. Not only has he already lost 4 members of his family, he may serve half a decade of what’s left of his elderly life in prison.
  •  32 year old mother Monique Ruiz of Utah was arrested in January for taking nude pictures of her a 9 year old special needs daughter and sending them to man in Taylorsville, who she met online. The mother is facing several felony charges along with her parental rights.
  •  Average Joe, 20 year old Miguel Gonzalez-Rivera of Saratoga Springs was arrested earlier this month after he unknowingly shared child pornography with an undercover agent online. Gonzalez-Rivera stated that he was accidentally exposed to pornography, yet continued viewing it afterwards willingly. His charges are not set at this time.
Photo by: David Goehring

Photo by: David Goehring

Pornography kills

The ad “porn kills” is very accurate. It kills the lives of those affected. Besides the damage that it does to people psychologically, child pornography viewing destroys the guilty individual’s family, employment, criminal record, and reputation. For those who have been caught up in viewing or sharing child pornography and are facing charges for sexual exploitation of a minor, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Vehicle Equity Skimming in Utah

Vehicle equity skimming became illegal in Utah back in 1991, yet many car dealers continue to have problems avoiding this crime.

Photo by: promich

Photo by: promich

False promises

Selling a vehicle isn’t always an easy task for car owners, which is why they often pay dealers a small compensation to take care of the transaction for them. Regrettable however, sometimes the vehicles that still have payments owed aren’t sold right away or are leased to someone else with the vehicle remaining in the original owner’s name. The original owner continues to make payments on a car they don’t have, and are liable if a new leased owner gets in an accident.

Consequences of vehicle equity skimming

Car dealers that agree to take compensation for selling a vehicle need to first obtain authorization from the company who the original owner has a lease or a payment plan through. Additionally, the car dealer mustn’t take more than 30 days to complete the sale of the vehicle. If these stipulations are not followed, the dealer can be charged with vehicle equity skimming. Utah code 76-6-522 states that vehicle equity skimming is a 3rd degree felony.

Hard times for Utah car dealers

When car dealers agree to sell a vehicle for a customer, they may bypass asking permission from the lessor in hopes that that the vehicle will be sold quickly. With many Utah residents strapped for cash, the amount of people buying cars continues to be slim. This leaves the dealer holding the bag/car along with a felony charge.

Lack of criminal record helps

When car dealers unintentionally find themselves facing vehicle equity skimming charges, but have previously conducted all their business ventures with honesty, the 3rd degree felony may be remedied by paying restitution instead of serving time. This is what happened in the case of Terry Hinz of Utah County back in 2010, whose business slowly went under leaving him with no way to pay the car owners back. For more information on avoiding jail time for vehicle equity skimming charges, contact a criminal defense attorney today.

Criminally Negligent Homicide for Leaving Baby in a Hot Car

There is much debate about whether parents and guardians should be charged with child endangerment for leaving a baby in a hot car and criminally negligent homicide if the child dies. Some cases are easy to note the parent willfully or negligently putting their child in danger. Other cases are more difficult to decide if the parent is guilty of a crime at all.

Photo by: mliu92

Photo by: mliu92

Case of a neglectful parent

26 year old Cody W. Oshley of Cedar City, Utah was arrested on June 26th after he left his 11 month old son in a hot car with the windows up with outside temperatures reaching 100 degrees. Oshley, who was caring for his children while the mother was away, had returned home drunk with his 4 year old and 11 month old in tow. In his severely intoxicated state he forgot to get the baby out of the car. The mother soon returned and found the baby dripping sweat and crying hysterically in the hot car. Luckily the 11 month old was still alive. Oshley was obviously neglectful of his parental responsibilities so therefore in all probability deserves any charges brought upon him. Besides charges stemming from his belligerent and violent behavior with the mother and the police who arrived on scene, Oshley was charged with child endangerment. Had the 11 month old died, Oshley would be facing charges for criminally negligent homicide.

No charges for a horrible mistake

Another case of a baby left in a hot car ended tragically last summer in for a Hurricane, Utah family. April Suwyn, mother to a couple boys and baby girl make a horrific mistake last summer when she left her baby Skyah in the back seat of her car. August 1st 2014 was a very different day that usual for Suwyn. From lack of sleep with a teething toddler, to construction blocking Suwyn from parking near her home, everything that day didn’t go as planned. Suwyn eventually fell into her normal routine while baby Skyah supposedly napped in her crib. What the mother didn’t realize until it was too late, was that Skyah was still strapped into her car seat in the hot car. Just shy of her first birthday, Baby Skyah did not survive. Unlike Oshley, Suwyn ended up not facing any charges for leaving her baby in a hot car. Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap explained the reason for not charging the mother with criminally negligent homicide in this case was due prosecutors understanding the science of “underlying memory lapse.”

Photo by: Allan Ajifo

Photo by: Allan Ajifo

Underlying memory lapse

The areas of the brain that deal with habit and new information don’t always work together smoothly. When something disrupts our daily humdrum, our basal ganglia which handles our habits, tries desperately to get back on track. Stress, a new routine, or something unplanned such as construction or a phone call can snap us out of our predictable day only to have the basal ganglia throw us back into our routine, sometimes missing a step. Unfortunately, sometimes the steps missed are crucial, such as taking a baby out of a car. For parents who had this underlying memory lapse, they did not willfully put their child in danger. Their own brain was working against them.

Half are found guilty

There are steps to take to help prevent leaving a baby in a hot car such as parents putting the diaper bag in the front seat and purse in the back seat. These subtle reminders to the brain can help prevent accidents like that which happened to the Suwyn family. Unfortunately for many parents or guardians who have lost their child due to leaving them in a hot car, not only have they lost their precious child, half of them had charges filed against them. For any parents or guardians who are dealing with charges of child endangerment or criminally negligent homicide contact a criminal defense attorney to discuss if this was negligent or just a tragic mistake.