Squatter Charged with Aggravated Assault for Chasing Homeowner with Machete

A squatter has been charged with numerous offenses including aggravated assault for chasing the homeowner away with a machete.

Surprised homeowner

Photo by: Marcelo Braga

Photo by: Marcelo Braga

A Kearns Utah family came home to an unwanted holiday surprise when they returned to inspect the damage of their home after it suffered a terrible fire earlier in December. The homeowner noticed a car in the driveway and once inside, called out to the uninvited guest. They then observed the man leave the house and decided to follow him outside. It was there that the squatter, 25 year old Scott Thomson appeared with a machete threatening the homeowner with bodily harm.

Aggravated Assault

Although Thomson didn’t actually hurt the homeowner, the fact that he threatened them with harm is what brought the assault charges. Utah code 76-5-102 states that even attempting to do someone harm is considered assault. Adding what code 76-5-703 states is a “deadly weapon” raised that offense to aggravated assault. Threatening to do harm without causing bodily injury is assault, a class B misdemeanor. Making that same threat while holding a machete is aggravated assault, a 3rd degree felony. Charges of course increase if there is essentially harm done to the victim.

Aggressive, high, or scared?

It is unknown what Thomson’s state of mind was when he chased the homeowner away with a machete. There were drugs found at the scene and it is entirely plausible that he was under the influence of narcotics. Whether he acted out of aggression toward someone crashing his solo house party of out of fear of being caught didn’t matter to the responding officers. Once he advanced toward the homeowner while holding the machete he was facing aggravated assault charges. Acting unwisely in the heat of the moment is a precursor to many charges, including assault and aggravated assault. Requesting the aid of a criminal defense attorney will help bring all the surrounding factors into consideration before the judge decides on sentencing and punishment.

Shoplifting for the Holidays

With little to no cash to spend for the holidays, many consumers resort to shoplifting for the things they want.

Shoplifting team effort

Photo by: Robert Sheie

Photo by: Robert Sheie

A St. George Utah couple was arrested earlier this month after they attempted to flee Christensen’s clothing store with over $500 worth of jeans. After pushing their way past the store owner, both individuals are facing charges for assault and theft. While many cases of shoplifting are due to something wanted such as multiple pairs of jeans, occasionally people are caught shoplifting for items truly needed.

Stealing the necessities

Photo: Gabriela Pinto

Photo: Gabriela Pinto

An Orem Utah mom was apprehended for shoplifting when officers discovered she was stealing groceries for her children whom she was the sole provider for. Instead of charging the single mom for shoplifting, Orem police officers saw a family in need and helped the mother and children with food and gifts just in time for the holidays. While the single mother is not facing charges currently, the store from which she stole still has the option to press civil charges. Hopefully they will show her the same kindness the officers did.

Larceny

Photo by: Mike Mozart

Photo by: Mike Mozart

Shoplifting is defined as a type of larceny from a store or place of business. Shoplifting is rarely excused such as it was for the single Orem Utah mother. The majority of people facing shoplifting charges end up in court. Depending on the amount and the type of the items stolen, shoplifting charges can range from a class B misdemeanor for items totaled under $500 to a second degree felony if the shoplifted item was a firearm. For help in dealing with shoplifting or another type of theft charge, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Pirated Media

Pirated media such as music or movies has become so simple to obtain and share that some people may not realize they are actually breaking the law. Pirated media can be any song, album, movie, or even game that is obtained and/or shared without any money going to those responsible for creating and marketing it. The artists, record labels, producers, and anyone else associated in the production of the pirated media loses money whenever their album or movie is copied and shared.

Old-school pirated media

Photo by: bixentro

Photo by: bixentro

Twenty years ago, unless a person had professional equipment, obtaining or sharing pirated media took a lot more work than it does currently. Copying a CD or even a cassette tape onto a blank tape took time, several monotonous steps, and rarely ended up with quality sound. Similar tedious actions were involved for copying movies. Beyond this low quality, yet still illegal personal use, small companies and individuals have made millions off of selling quality bootlegged albums and movies as the real deal. Although law enforcement is enforcing penalties for those responsible for pirated media, it is only getting worse with the advancement of technology.

Illegal downloads

Photo by: Richard Eriksson

Photo by: Richard Eriksson

With technology progressing so rapidly, acquiring and sharing pirated media has become as easy as pushing a single button. Because of the simplicity of obtaining pirated media, many people don’t see it as illegal, just convenient. An easy way to know if it is pirated is whether or not the individual got the movie or song for free. If an individual acquired a song, album, or movie without having to pay anything for it, they are likely the benefactors of pirated media. If they give a song or movie to another person while keeping a copy for themselves, this is also pirated media. There are several ways in which people can acquire and share pirated media:

• Burning a copy of a CD or DVD. There are several types of software out there that make burning copies and creating pirated media easy to do. These various software programs are legal, but they are sold with the disclaimer to not be used on copyright material which many people may overlook when making copies for friends or family.

• Online downloaders. Sites such as YouTube, Spotify, and Pandora have music available for anyone to listen to free of charge. All too often however, listening to songs on these sites may be inconvenient, especially when songs are chosen at random. Along with sites specifically downloading music, there are programs and browser add-ons that offer extracting songs from these sites. Although the site such as YouTube may be legal, extracting a song for personal use is not.

• File-sharing. File-sharing is a website with a network of subscribers. On this website, a person purchases or illegally downloads a song or movie and shares it for free with others. Many of these sites have changed their ways or been shut down, but many still linger out there.

• Sharing with friends. When someone legally purchases a CD or DVD and wants to share it with family or friends, they may feel they have all the rights after their purchase. While some albums and movies give the go ahead for downloading for personal use on phones, an mp3, or laptops, it is against the law to share with others.

Penalties for copyright infringement

Photo by: bizmac

Photo by: bizmac

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), “Making unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings is against the law and may subject you to civil and criminal liability. A civil law suit could hold you responsible for thousands of dollars in damages. Criminal charges may leave you with a felony record, accompanied by up to five years of jail time and fines up to $250,000.” This applies to all pirated media, whether a hard copy or digital. For anyone facing charges of copyright infringement for downloading or distributing pirated media, contact a criminal defense attorney.