Felony Charges for Cooking Concentrated Marijuana

A Utah man is facing felony charges after authorities responding to a fire at an apartment building discovered the tenant was cooking concentrated marijuana.

Mini lab

Photo by: Dr. Brainfish

Photo by: Dr. Brainfish

18 year old Michael Irey of Eagle Mountain wasn’t making pot brownies when he accidentally caught his kitchen on fire, he was extracting the THC from the marijuana and cooking it down into highly concentrated marijuana “dabs”. Dabs are similar to hash, yet they are more pure and extra potent. Because of the increased THC potency of dabs and even with the lesser potent hash oil and other forms of concentrated marijuana, the penalties for production are far higher than for marijuana that is left unaltered. The charges are so severe, manufacturing concentrated marijuana is considered to be operating a clandestine drug lab.

2nd degree felony for concentrated marijuana

When speaking of a clandestine drug lab, it is usually referring to either a meth or crack lab. However, a lab or kitchen where there is cooking or production of concentrated marijuana such as dabs or hash falls under the same category as a meth lab. Operating a meth, crack or concentrated marijuana clandestine lab is a 2nd degree felony and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“Hazardous or dangerous material”

Photo by: Reuben Strayer

Photo by: Reuben Strayer

The reason making concentrated marijuana is punished as severely as making meth is explained generally in the Clandestine Drug lab Act. “ . . .because of its quantity, concentration, physical characteristics, or chemical characteristics (it) may cause or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality, an increase in serious illness, or may pose a substantial present or potential future hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, disposed of, or otherwise improperly managed.”

Know the laws for your state

With many states legalizing marijuana and others reducing their charges, it is important to know the specific laws for your state. For more information on Utah’s drug laws or to speak to an attorney about charges related to marijuana, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Sexual Abuse by a LDS Church Counselor

The LDS church is exceptionally cautious by requiring any person in a leadership role such as a teacher, counselor, or scout leader to be “two deep” to prevent any allegations of inappropriate conduct such as sexual abuse. Unfortunately, leaders acting on their own outside of, or after church activities aren’t always monitored as closely. Just last month, an LDS Church counselor was sentenced to serve time in prison for having a sexual relationship with a teenage boy he’d met previously at a church camp.

EFY counselor

benmckune

benmckune

29 year old Keldon S. Cook from Farmington Utah was sentenced on November 30th 2015 for multiple charges stemming from a sexual relationship he had with a teenager. Cook met the 14 year old youth while he was one of many EFY counselors for an event sponsored by the LDS church. After their initial introductions at the EFY event, Cook communicated with the teen through texting and IMing for the duration of two years. Following the electronic communications, which the teen stated to be quite inappropriate, the adult church counselor arranged a meeting with the boy and sexual conduct ensued. Cook was originally charged with multiple charges such as forcible sodomy and forcible sexual abuse but took a plea deal, reducing the charges to four 3rd degree felonies instead, three of which were unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17 year old.

Age makes a difference

When the sexual abuse began between Cook and the teen, the youth was 16 years old. Although the sexual acts that took place were not legal, the older age of the youth saved Cook many years behind bars. When it comes to charges related to children, the younger the age of the victim, the harsher the penalties will be for the defendant. Charges are known to be drastically higher when the victim for sexual abuse is under the age of 14. This may be due the fact that older teenagers are known as being somewhat capable of making their own decisions where younger teens or prepubescent children are not. In the case of Keldon S. Cook, if the sexual abuse had started earlier when the teen was younger, the charges against Cook could’ve landed him in prison for life.

Position of trust

Photo by: Randen Pederson

Photo by: Randen Pederson

Not only can a victim’s younger age increase charges for a defendant, but so can age along with the defendant’s role in the victim’s life. When sexual abuse occurs with a child under the age of 14 and the adult is in a position of trust such as a church counselor, it is then considered aggravated sexual abuse. According to Utah Code 76-5-401.1, “Position of trust means:

• An adoptive parent;
• An athletic manager who is an adult;
• An aunt
• A babysitter
• A coach
• A cohabitant of a parent if the cohabitant is an adult;
• A counselor;
• A doctor or physician;
• An employer;
• A foster parent;
• A grandparent;
• A legal guardian;
• A natural parent
• A recreational leader who is an adult;
• A religious leader;
• A sibling or a stepsibling who is an adult;
• A scout leader who is an adult;
• A stepparent;
• A teacher of any other person employed by or volunteering at a public or private elementary school or secondary school, and who is 18 years of age or older;
• An uncle;
• A youth leader who is an adult; or
• Any person in a position of authority, […] which enables the person to exercise undue influence over the child.”

Aggravated sexual abuse

Unlike sexual abuse which is a 2nd degree felony, aggravated sexual abuse of a child such as sexual abuse by a person of trust is a 1st degree felony, punishable by 15 years to life in prison. Those in positions where they work with children need to be cautious about never being alone with a child and following any rules and guidelines in place to protect both child and adult. Any adult who is facing true or even fraudulent charges of any sexual abuse should speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately.

Automobile Homicide

A 14 year old Taylorsville teenager was struck and killed by a car on Halloween night and it is not believed that the driver will face charges of automobile homicide.

Trick or treating nightmare

Photo by: _zhang

Photo by: _zhang

The 14 year old teenage girl was out trick or treating with a group of friends when she entered a crosswalk located on 2700 West just north of Bennion Junior High School in Taylorsville, Utah. As she began crossing the road, a van driven by an adult woman struck and killed her.

Accident versus being negligent

It is improbable that drivers who cause the death of a pedestrian for reasons such as poor visibility due to a dark costume (which may have been the case here) will face charges of automobile homicide. According to Utah Code 76-5-207 and 76-5-207.5, there are two circumstances in which a driver may be charged with automobile homicide following a fatal auto-pedestrian accident, such as:

• If the driver is distracted by a cell phone or other hand-held device or

• If the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

While an investigation is still pending, it doesn’t appear that the driver was impaired in any way and thus she will likely be spared automobile homicide charges for the death of the 14 year old girl.

Criminally negligent

Photo by: Lord Jim

Photo by: Lord Jim

If a driver is found to have been driving while intoxicated or on their phone when an accident occurs, they could face a 3rd degree felony for automobile homicide. That charge would increase to a 2nd degree felony if the driver is perceived as being criminally negligent. Utah Code 76-2-102 defines being criminally negligent as deliberately causing the accident, “recklessly with respect to circumstances […]”, or if the driver should have known that their actions could cause the accident to occur. If a driver is ever facing automobile homicide, it is vital to seek experienced, professional counsel to avoid up to 15 years in prison that can come from a 2nd degree felony.