Child Endangerment Charges For Utah Mom Who Threw Underage Drinking Party

A Utah mom who threw an underage drinking party for her son and his friends is being charged with child endangerment after one of the party goers died.

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor

Photo by: Rawpixel LTD

40 year old Kristina Teresa Valdez was throwing a birthday party for her teenage son at their Kearns, Utah home when she told one of her son’s friends to leave. The teens were enjoying alcohol and drugs while under the care of Valdez when the friend started acting belligerent. After being kicked out into the cold with only light clothing on, the 17 year old boy passed out in a nearby field and died, possibly from exposure. The teen’s parents assumed he had run way and searched for him for over two weeks before his body was discovered. An autopsy revealed the teen had been intoxicated and under the influence of marijuana. Valdez was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and child endangerment.

Child endangerment

Not only was Valdez charged with letting the teenagers have alcohol, she is also facing charges for allegedly letting them use marijuana while in her home. This is considered child endangerment which is punishable as a first, second, or third degree felony. Utah code 76-5-112.5 states regarding child endangerment:

  • “. . . a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if the person knowingly or intentionally causes or permits a child or a vulnerable adult to be exposed to, inhale, ingest, or have contact with a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia;
  • . . . a person is guilty of a felony of the second degree, if: the person engages in the conduct described [above]; and as a result of the conduct . . . a child or a vulnerable adult suffers bodily injury, substantial bodily injury, or serious bodily injury; or
  • a person is guilty of a felony of the first degree, if: the person engages in the conduct described [above]; and as a result of the conduct . . . a child or a vulnerable adult dies.”

Photo by: Tony Webster

Although the teen died after Valdez kicked him out of the party drunk and high, she is only facing a third degree felony instead of a first degree felony. Parents are encouraged to not use illegal activity as a way to be the “cool parent”.Those parents who are facing charges for allowing children to break the law in their home should consult with a criminal defense attorney.

Utah Teenager Turns Parents in for Drug Use and Child Endangerment

A Utah teenager has started her family down a safer path after turning her parents in for drug use, theft and child endangerment.

Kids are watching

Photo by: Samuel Johnson

A 15 year old Santaquin, Utah teenager who had been watching her parents engage in illegal behavior for some time decided to alert a relative to the situation. The teen told the relative and later authorities in great detail how her parents and their friends had done drugs in front of the teen at home. She also informed police of a theft-based business her father and a friend were running out of the garage. The parents were arrested and the teen will likely be staying with more responsible family members while her parents face criminal charges.

Child endangerment

The teen’s parents, Eric and Jamie Taylor, were arrested after their daughter’s confession of their illegal activity. The charges against them are expected to include drug possession, theft, and child endangerment. Utah Code 76-5-112.5 states regarding child endangerment that “. . . a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if the person knowingly or intentionally causes or permits a child or a vulnerable adult to be exposed to, inhale, ingest, or have contact with a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia”. By doing drugs in front of their daughter and having those illicit items and accompanying paraphernalia in areas where she could access it, Eric and Jamie Taylor were putting their child’s health and even her life in danger.

Needed steps to reunite a family

It is understandable that the teenager daughter did not want to be around her parent’s illegal and dangerous activity anymore, regardless of her familial feelings for them. Fortunately it sounds as though she has extended family members she can trust to care for her while her parents pay their penance to society. Hopefully her parents use this time to get the treatment needed to end their dependence on drugs while also learning to how to be better parents to such a responsible and courageous child.

Utah Parents Who Fed Children Marijuana Charged with Endangerment of a Child

Two young children who were fed marijuana have been taken into protective custody after their parents were charged with endangerment of a child.

Concerned extended family

Extended family members contacted the Utah Division of Child and Family Services concerned for the welfare of the young children of 28 year old Jacob Francis Sickler and 40 year old Katie Jennifer Blackham. Family members told DCFS the young children were not well cared for and were being exposed to drugs by their parents. The parents were reported to have regularly used drugs near their children and in order to implement “quiet time”, had even fed their kids marijuana. The 3 and 4 year old children were removed by DCFS and a hair follicle test concluded they had marijuana and cocaine in their system. Their parents were arrested for child abuse and endangerment of a child.

Endangerment of a child

According to Utah Code 76-5-112.5, a person is guilty of a second degree felony “ . . . if the person knowingly or intentionally causes or permits a child or a vulnerable adult to be exposed to, inhale, ingest, or have contact with a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia [and] as a result . . . a child or vulnerable adult suffers bodily injury, substantial bodily injury, or serious bodily injury”. Since there were two children exposed to drugs, Sickler and Blackham will face one second degree felony for each child affected. Second degree felonies are punishable under Utah law with a possible prison term of one to 15 years for each charge as well as a fine up to $10,000 per charge.

Division of Family and Child Services

The children of Sickler and Blackham were taken into protective custody by DCFS but may be released to those family members concerned for their well-being if DCFS determines it is in the best interest of the children. According to the Utah Department of Human Services, the mission of DCFS is: “To keep children safe from abuse and neglect and provide domestic violence services by working with communities and strengthening families.” They offer parenting and other educational classes for families in an effort to prevent DCFS from having to get involved in familial affairs. When instances involving abuse or neglect arise however, DCFS will step in and remove the children from the home.

Reconnecting families

While some families dealing with criminal charges for drug abuse have family members who can step in and care for their children, others do not. In these situations, the children are then placed in foster care. DCFS states: “Foster care is a temporary intervention for children who are unable to remain safely in their homes. Children in foster care stay with a family who provides safety, nurturing, and support. Every effort is made to keep children with their families unless the safety needs of the children or legal mandates indicate otherwise.” Utah Foster Care also notes: “The primary goal of foster care is to provide a nurturing home for children until it is safe for them to return to their biological families. When it is safe to do so, returning home is best for the children.” All parents make mistakes some make choices so grave they lose their freedom and parental rights. While this loss can be permanent if the charges they face are severe, it is often temporary. The state of Utah wants to keep families together and offers support and treatment opportunities for parents, including those fighting substance abuse. Parents who are facing criminal charges where their parental rights are threatened are encouraged to seek a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can help guide them through the legal process of obtaining rehabilitation and reunification.