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

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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.

Criminal Charges For Utah Man Who Made Threat of Terrorism in YouTube Comment Section

A Utah man is facing criminal charges after he used the comment section on YouTube to make a threat of terrorism toward the site’s employees.

Keyboard warrior

Photo by: Kelly Schott

35 year old David Levon Swanson of Orem, Utah was arrested following a series of hateful comments he made on YouTube videos that led the video site’s employees fearing for their safety. Some of Swanson’s comments including talking about the executives being murdered as well as them not “last[ing] much longer”. He later specified that he would “visit their campus in two weeks . . . [and] shoot any employees exiting”. That final comment, where he crossed the line from wishing death on someone to detailing what appeared to be an actual threat, could have been the final evidence needed for authorities to consider the threat tangible.

Threat of Terrorism

Utah Code 76-5-107.3 states “A person commits a threat of terrorism if the person threatens to commit any offense involving bodily injury, death, or substantial property damage, and:

    • threatens the use of a [real or fake] weapon of mass destruction” or “acts with intent to:
      • intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence or affect the conduct of a government or a unit of government;
      • prevent or interrupt the occupation of a building or a portion of the building, a place to which the public has access, or a facility or vehicle of public transportation operated by a common carrier; or
      • cause an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies to take action due to the person’s conduct posing a serious and substantial risk to the general public.”

Making a threat of terrorism is punishable as a second degree felony, third degree felony, or a class A misdemeanor depending on which of the above described subsections were violated.

Which Amendment?

Swanson claimed following his arrest that he did not make a threat to shoot the employees with a gun. He stated that when he used the term “shoot” he meant it in reference to shooting a camera. In his alleged threat he stated that by shooting the employees, he was exercising his First Amendment rights. The First Amendment protects the freedom of religion, free speech, as well as the right to peacefully assemble. It also protects a person’s right to photography as long as they are taking pictures to send a message and that the pictures are going to be shared with an audience. Law enforcement read Swanson’s comment as a threat to use a gun to which he should have stated his right to use his Second Amendment right to bare arms. Either Swanson got his Amendment and their accompanying rights mixed up in his alleged threat of terrorism or his threat to shoot was meant merely to take candid photos of the employees.

Express or implied

If the comment to shoot the YouTube employees had been the only thing Swanson had blurted out online, there is a chance law enforcement may have understood that his intent was to take pictures, not kill people. Unfortunately, the other comments depicting death and murder of the employees painted his intent in a more distressing light. Utah Code 76-5-107.3 notes that regarding a threat of terrorism, “It is not a defense under this section that the person did not attempt to carry out or was incapable of carrying out the threat.” Additionally, A threat under this section may be express or implied.”Regardless of what Swanson actually intended to do, his history of violent speech online set him up to face criminal charges for any threat made.

Freedom to curb your online rants

While everyone including Swanson has the freedom to speak their mind, it does not mean that anything said out loud on online is okay. Harassment, threats of terrorism, or violent threats are all punishable under the law. Anyone facing criminal charges for something they said should consult with a defense attorney.

Intoxicated Utah Boat Driver Arrested for Automobile Homicide

An intoxicated Utah boat driver was arrested for automobile homicide for allegedly causing the death of one of his passengers while boating in Flaming Gorge over Mother’s Day weekend.

Drinking and sailing

Photo by: Ozzy Delaney

25 year old Corey Eggleston of Vernal, Utah was arrested for automobile homicide and DUI charges after one of his passengers fell from the boat and drowned. Eggleston admitted had been drinking alcohol while operating the boat at Flaming Gorge Reservoir Saturday when he made a maneuver that caused the boat to start taking on water. That maneuver resulted in multiple passengers of Eggleston’s boat to fall into the water. None of the passengers were wearing life vests and one male passenger was pronounced dead after being pulled from the water.

Automobile homicide

Eggleston was booked into Uintah County Jail on DUI charges as well as automobile homicide. Utah Code 76-5-207 states: “Criminal homicide is automobile homicide, a third degree felony, if the person operates a motor vehicle in a negligent manner causing the death of another and:
(i) has sufficient alcohol in his body . . . of .05 grams or greater at the time of the test;
(ii) is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle [or boat]; or
(iii) has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .05 grams or greater at the time of operation.”
If the person was found to behaving in a criminally negligent manner when they caused the death of another, the charges would be increased to a second degree felony.

Negligence when boating

Section 76-5-207 goes on to explains that “. . . negligent means simple negligence, the failure to exercise that degree of care that reasonable and prudent persons exercise under like or similar circumstances.”Criminal negligence on the other hand is defined by 76-2-103 as “. . . when [the actor] ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise in all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.”

Mistake or “gross deviation” of care

Although Eggleston likely didn’t intent to cause the death of his passenger, drinking while operating the boat was considered a negligent act and could have been prevented by choosing sobriety while boating instead. No details have been released stating how much Eggleston had been drinking or whether or not, prior to the incident, he was behaving in a manner that would show a disregard for the safety of others (other than his consuming alcohol.) Anyone facing charges for negligently causing the death or another is encouraged to seek the help of a qualified attorney to ensure intent and level of negligence is honestly portrayed during court proceedings.