Criminal Mischief Charges Result from Church Vandalism, Burglary

church vandalism equals criminal mischief

Photo: Center for Social Leadership

A Duchesne County LDS church was vandalized on Tuesday, Oct. 14. Two days later, the parties responsible were arrested and booked on charges of criminal mischief, burglary, and misdemeanor theft.

Thou Shalt Not Tag

The criminal mischief incident in question took place Tuesday night sometime after 10:30 p.m. at the church located at 181 N. 200 W. The damages weren’t discovered until the next morning.

It is unclear how the three vandals got into the church. There was no sign of forced entry into the building. However, several doors inside the church were kicked in, according to a report from KSL News. In addition to the damaged doors, various items–including cash–were stolen from the church, and red spray paint was used to “tag” various locations, including the door to the bishop’s office, the inside of the chapel, and a picture of Jesus Christ.

On Thursday, Tristan Joseph Peterson Hirst was detained and confessed to the crime to a Duchesne County Sheriff’s department sergeant. He also implicated Denver T. Bell and 17-year-old juvenile male in the crime. Hirst and Bell told police where the stolen items were located, and police were able to obtain them.

Both men were charged with criminal mischief, burglary, and misdemeanor theft. It is unclear what charges will be filed against the juvenile offender.

Criminal Mischief Defined

According to Utah Code 76-6-106, criminal mischief–more commonly known as vandalism–is considered an “offense against property.” According to the code, a person commits criminal mischief if he/she does any of the following:

  • damages or destroys (other than via fire/arson) property with the intent to defraud an insurer
  • tampers with the property of another resulting in endangering human life, health or safety
  • causes or threatens a substantial interruption of any critical infrastructure (such as communication, financial, transportation, health care, etc…)
  • intentionally damages, defaces or destroys the property of another
  • recklessly or willfully shoots a missile or other object against a vehicle of transportation.

A church does not qualify as “critical infrastructure,” and obviously Hirst and Bell didn’t fire a missile at anything. Their charge results from the most common form of criminal mischief, “intentionally damages, defaces or destroys the property of another.”

Criminal mischief ranges from a class B misdemeanor up to a second degree felony depending on the offense. When it comes to vandalism, the punishment will depend on the value of property damaged, with a second degree felony for over $5,000 down to a class B misdemeanor for less than $500.

If you or someone you know has been charged with criminal mischief or any other crime, be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will look out for your best interests.

Man Charged with Motor Vehicle Theft Tried to Elude K9 Unit

Motor vehicle theft charges

Photo: Michael Pereckas

In an attempt to escape pursuit after being caught red-handed for motor vehicle theft, a man fled from police cruisers and tried jumping in a river to elude a K9 unit. He was still ultimately apprehended and is being charged for suspicion of motor vehicle theft and fleeing police.

It Always Works in the Movies

On Thursday, Oct. 9, just before midnight, detectives from the Salt Lake Metro Gang Unit located a stolen vehicle on South State Street. Detectives waited and watched as John Hallberg, 47, showed up, got into the vehicle, and drove off.

Police gave chase but called off the pursuit when Hallberg’s reckless behavior–including almost colliding with one of the police cars–indicated he could be a threat to public safety. However, the abandoned vehicle was quickly was quickly located, and according to Salt Lake City police detective Dennis McGowan, two K9 units were deployed, cornering Hallberg along the Jordan River Parkway.

Whether it was the dogs closing in or a cinematic belief that going in water threw off his scent was unclear, but for whatever reason, Hallberg jumped into the Jordan River. Unfortunately for him, while this trick may have worked, he chose to hide on the other side of the river under some brush instead of continuing to flee. Even the dogs knew as much, using one of their trained signals to indicate that he was still nearby when officers showed up.

Hallberg was arrested and booked into Salt Lake County Jail on suspicion of motor vehicle theft.

Motor Vehicle Theft Repercussions

According to Utah Code 76-6-412, motor vehicle theft falls under “offenses against property.” In the case of motor vehicle theft, it is classified as a second degree felony based on the categorization of the property being valued either above $5,000 or if the property stolen is a firearm or operable motor vehicle. Obviously if Hallberg was able to flee police in the vehicle, it would be considered operable.

As a second degree felony, motor vehicle theft is punishable by a prison term of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The key term to notice here is “up to.” If you or someone you know has been charged with motor vehicle theft, make sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will work to get you the lower end of that sentence and fine.

Aggravated Assault Results When Man Just Wanted a Pen

Aggravated Assault over a pen

Photo: Trounce/Wikimedia Commons

In a late-night incident in a Salt Lake restaurant, an employee was stabbed by a man requesting a pen. The suspect could face aggravated assault charges, but it wouldn’t be his first time.

All This Over a Pen?

Have you ever had an idea that was really important, but you just didn’t have anything with which to write it down? While early reports of an incident that occurred Sunday morning, Oct. 5, haven’t revealed any motives, perhaps this explains why a man has been charged with aggravated assault when it appears he only wanted a pen.

According to a report from KSL News, at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, the suspect, Kristopher Davis, 32, entered a Beto’s Mexican restaurant, approached the counter and asked one of the employees for a pen. When Davis was told he would have to wait, he allegedly slapped the employee.

Salt Lake Police Lt. Carl Merino stated that the employee attempted to escort Davis out of the restaurant and was stabbed twice in the torso with a knife and then fled. When police arrived on the scene, they found a hotel key for Gateway Inn that Davis dropped in his flight. Davis was arrested at the hotel and booked on investigation of aggravated assault. The employee was taken to a hospital after the assault and is in stable condition.

Maybe Davis should have just gone back to his hotel room. They always have complimentary pens, and he could’ve avoided a whole lot of trouble.

Aggravated Assault Charges and Penalties

This isn’t Davis’ first run-in with the law. According to court records, he has previously been convicted of burglary and also has a previous aggravated assault charge stemming from an incident in 2009. So he should be familiar with the severity of the punishment.

Utah Criminal Code 76-5-103 defines aggravated assault as any form of assault (and this can include simply an attempt or threat to do bodily injury) that includes a dangerous weapon or other means of force likely to cause death or serious bodily injury.

Aggravated assault is considered a third degree felony, punishable by one to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. However, if serious bodily injury results as defined by Utah Code 41-6a-501 (essentially death, disfigurement, or extended loss or impairment of function of a body part), it becomes a second degree felony, punishable by one to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Aggravated assault is a very serious offense. If you or someone you know has been charged with this–or any other–crime, don’t leave your fate in the hands of a public defender who is maybe going to just use that pen to sign away your rights. Be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.