Popular Online Dating App Bans Use by Teenagers

A popular online dating app has recently changed its policy and is banning all teenagers access to their services.

The danger of online dating for teens

Online Dating

Photo by: Don Hankins

For the last three years Tinder has let adults and teenagers alike create and utilize accounts to connect, flirt, and date others in their area. Until now, Tinder has had two separate platforms; one for adults and another for teens between the ages of 13 to 17 years old. Law enforcement and parents have expressed concerns however over sexual predators who have been gaining access to the juvenile platform where they have been found to prey on the younger users. Now Tinder has chosen to be more responsible with their app and no longer offers online dating services to users under the age of 18.

Access through dishonesty

Banning teenager from using online dating apps and websites may help shield minors from online sexual predators but as with most technology, there is a loophole. While Tinder is linked through Facebook which can help verify a user’s age, a teenager can create a Facebook account with a fake age and gain access to the online dating app. This not only puts the teen at risk but also can hurt adults as well. There have been occurrences where teens have gotten adults in trouble with the law for being untruthful about their online age.

Felony charges for misinformation

Photo by: Japanexperterna.se

Photo by: Japanexperterna.se

Last June two Clearfield, Utah men were arrested when a 13 year old boy posed as an 18 year old on the men-only dating app Grindr and solicited the two adults for sexual relations. After meeting the teen at a hotel where he was staying with his parents, one of the men was arrested on sodomy charges while the other was charged with dealing harmful materials to a minor for exchanging nude photos with the 13 year old.

Ask for ID

Users of these online dating apps are cautioned to be wary and report instances of teens posing as adults. Parents are also cautioned to be mindful of what websites and apps minors are accessing through personal laptops or smartphones. Those facing criminal charges for crimes involving online dating apps are encouraged to seek representation from a criminal defense attorney.

Utah Woman Charged With Child Kidnapping Her Own Grandson

A Heber, Utah woman was arrested and charged with child kidnapping after she took her own grandson and fled the state.

Unauthorized trip with Grandma

56 year old Donna E. Jones was arrested last week after she took her almost 2 year old grandson and fled the state of Utah. Jones, who is the child’s paternal grandmother, was located along with her grandchild over 1200 miles away in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The child’s mother had just been awarded full custody of the child and police have determined that the non-custodial father helped the grandmother in the kidnapping following the court proceedings which were not in his favor.

First degree child kidnapping

Although the grandchild suffered no injuries on his unauthorized trip with grandma and was with a known family member and not a stranger, Donna E. Jones is still facing anywhere from 5 years to life in prison. Child kidnapping is a first degree felony and is defined under Utah Code 76-5-301.1 as when a person “intentionally or knowingly, without authority of law, and by any means and in any manner, seizes, confines, detains, or transports a child under the age of 14 without the consent of the victim’s parent or guardian”. In the case of Donna Jones, she had consent of a parent, just not the parent with custodial rights.

Stranger danger

While the mention of child kidnapping brings to mind a stranger snatching up a child while a parent isn’t watching, stranger abductions really only account for about one-fourth of all child kidnappings. According the National Crime Information Center, almost half of all child kidnapping cases are of children taken by a family member. In the majority of cases, the family member charged with child kidnapping is the non-custodial parent, but could involve other family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even siblings.

Prison time for disagreeing with court decisions

Child custody hearings can often leave one parent or other relatives feeling like they got the short end of the stick. Unfortunately, family members may act irrationally for fear of not seeing the children as often as they would like. For anyone facing child kidnapping charges for making a bad decision following a child custody hearing, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Killing Protected Animals in Utah

There are several species of protected animals that can be found in Utah and  killing any can result in state or federal charges.

Protection for all

Photo by: Ben Johnson

Photo by: Ben Johnson

All creatures, whether wild or domesticated, are protected from torture or other non-humane acts under Utah Code 76-9-301 which defines specific crimes related to animal cruelty. This law ensures that no animal suffers unwarranted pain and suffering and that domesticated animals are properly cared for and supplied with the necessities of life they require. Domesticated animals can include companion pets such dogs and cats and also farmed animals like swine and cattle. Cattle and other livestock are protected under this law yet can be bred and raised for the sole purpose of killing them for meat and other products destined for human consumption and use.

Hunting wild animals

Photo: m01229

Photo: m01229

Livestock are not the only animals with targets on them. Although Utah Code 23-13-3 declared that “all wildlife existing within this state, not held by private ownership and legally acquired, is the property of the state”, hunting is permitted as long as appropriate licensing and permits are acquired. There are numerous types of wild animals in Utah that can be hunted for sport such as rabbits, squirrel, duck, and fish. These are legal to hunt as long as the shooter has a current hunting and/or fishing license. Other wild animals including deer, elk, turkey, and cougar require additional permits and are only able to be killed during set seasons. In addition to taking home a stuffed trophy or game meat, killing of some animals brings a cash reward. This is the case in Utah for coyotes that have caused extensive damage to livestock and the mule deer population. According to Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, “The DWR predator-control program provides incentives for hunters to remove coyotes. Participants receive $50 for each properly documented coyote that they kill in Utah.”

Endangered Species Act

Not all wild animals are permitted to be hunted. Any animals listed as endangered or threatened are protected by either state or federal laws. The Endangered Species Act was passed in the early 70’s to protect species which are threatened with extinction and their habitats in which they dwell. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated in a list reported in early 2015 that there are nearly twenty endangered or threatened animals commonly found in Utah including: the Utah prairie dog, the desert tortoise, the gray wolf, and bald or golden eagles. They warn that it is illegal “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect or attempt to engage in any such conduct” with any animal listed on the ESA. Those found guilty of intentional killing or “taking” any protected animals will be fined up to $50,000 and/or a year imprisoned.

Accidental killing of protected animals

Protected animals

Photo by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Although purposely or negligently killing protected animals is likely to be followed by charges, anyone who unintentionally kills or injures an endangered animal may not face criminal penalties. Two different instances have occurred in Utah since late 2014 that resulted in the deaths of protected gray wolves. Both happened at the hands of hunters; One by accidental shooting while mistaking the wolf for a coyote and the other when the animal became trapped in a cougar snare. Both hunters were found not guilty as it was not their intention to harm the protected animals and they reported it immediately to authorities.

Report from a distance

If a protected animal has been killed unintentionally or found deceased it is important to stay clear from the carcass in case poisons were used or if a disease is present. Additionally it is imperative to never remove any part of the animal’s remains as that alone can bring criminal charges. Anyone in possession of protected animal remains such a bald eagle feather will be charged extensively by state or federal laws. For more information on state or federal laws regarding wildlife or to report the death of a protected animal notify the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For legal counsel regarding charges contact a criminal defense attorney.