Ancient Rock-Pushers Avoid Prison in Plea Deal - Legally Weird
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Ancient Rock-Pushers Avoid Prison in Plea Deal

Aficionados of ancient natural wonders can breathe a sigh of relief -- the ancient-rock pushers of Utah have been sentenced to probation for messing with nature.

Glenn Tuck Taylor and David Benjamin Hall were charged with criminal mischief for knocking over an ancient rock formation in Utah's Goblin Valley State Park, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The duo pleaded guilty to the charge and received probation instead of jail time.

So what's considered criminal mischief?

Criminal Mischief

In most states, criminal mischief refers to forms of vandalism. This usually means destroying or defacing public or private property without permission. In Utah, persons can be found guilty of criminal mischief under several circumstances, including:

  • Intentionally and unlawfully tampering with another person's property that causes reckless endangerment to human life.
  • Intentionally damaging, defacing, or destroying the property of another.

Whether a criminal mischief charge is deemed a felony or misdemeanor depends on the monetary amount of damage the defendant caused or intended to cause to the property.

Both Taylor and Hall were charged with third-degree felony criminal mischief, according to the Tribune. Under Utah law, this means that the men caused or intended to cause between $1,500 to $5,000 worth of damage to the ancient rock formation. If the ancient rock-pushers hadn't cut a plea bargain to drop the felony charge to a misdemeanor for attempted criminal mischief, the pair could have faced up to five years in prison if convicted.

By pleading guilty, Taylor and Hall received one year probation and will have to pay fees and restitution to the state, reports the Tribune.

Restitution

Although the court still has to determine the amount of restitution the ancient rock-pushers will have to pay the state, their money will be used to erect signs throughout the state park to warn others to not damage the rock formations.

In general, a judge can order perpetrators to pay restitution in order to compensate their victims -- restoring the victims to the financial point they were at before the crime occurred. Restitution is typically a condition of probation, and the amount is decided by the court. As of now, Taylor's attorney told the Tribune that the amount will likely be in the "thousands, not hundreds."

According to the Tribune, the ancient rock-pushers may eventually get their cases dismissed if they stay out of trouble for the next year and comply with court-ordered conditions.

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