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How Are Sex Crimes Defined Under Utah State Law?


There is not one set definition of a sex crime, and there are no tiers or levels of sex crimes. The crimes are assigned basic penalties and levels of offenses, from misdemeanors to felonies. These penalties may increase depending upon specified aggravating factors and the severity or egregiousness of the conduct. A sex crime in Utah is what you would think it is: there is some sexual interaction without the victim’s consent, and the lack of consent is expressed either verbally or through conduct.

What Determines Whether A Sex Crime Is Charged As A Felony Or A Misdemeanor In Utah?

The legislature has made delineations and determinations that are reflected in the statute and determine whether a sex crime will be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Very few crimes of a sexual nature are misdemeanors, but there are some. One such crime is lewdness, which is defined as exposure of the breast or genitals. Sexual battery is also a misdemeanor, which is defined as unwanted touching of the buttocks, breast or genitals. Enticing a minor (usually over the internet) is another common misdemeanor crime. All other sex crimes that are commonly thought of- whether it’s rape or sodomy or so forth- are felonies.

What Is The Difference Between A State Level And Federal Level Sex Crime Charge?

The only difference between a state-level and a federal-level sex crime charge is jurisdiction. In other words, there must be something that gives the federal prosecutors jurisdiction to bring the case into federal court. It usually involves the crossing of state lines or interstate commerce. The most common and classic example of the federal sex case is the possession or transfer of child pornography over the internet.

What Steps Should I Take If I Have Been Arrested And Charged With A Sex Crime?

You should absolutely remain silent; do not make any statements. If you’re claiming actual innocence, you should not try to explain your conduct or anything of that nature. You should hire a skilled and experienced attorney.

Should Someone Hire An Attorney Prior To Arrest If They Suspect They Are Being Investigated For A Sex Crime?

If someone suspects that they are being investigated for a sex crime, they should absolutely hire an attorney as quickly as possible. In these kinds of cases, it’s important to get ahead of whatever serious consequences may be coming down the road.

How Often Does The Alleged Victim Recant Allegations Of A Sex Crime?

Sometimes the alleged victim in a case will recant allegations of a sex crime. This usually happens when the incident involved a couple, and the couple decides to reconcile. However, it does not necessarily mean that the case will be dropped. If a victim comes forward and says that they’re not going to cooperate or that they don’t want the case to go forward, then the prosecutor has the authority and the discretion to say, “Thank you for your input, but it’s out of your hands.” At that point, the case basically belongs to their office, so the decision to prosecute it (or not) is up to the prosecutor. If they feel that they can prove the elements to the offense without the victim’s testimony or cooperation and still carry their burden, then sometimes they will determine to go forward, even when the victim doesn’t want the case to go forward.

What Are Some Common Defense Strategies That Can Be Used In Sex Crime Cases?

One of the most common defenses is to claim actual innocence, whereby the person says, “Well, I didn’t do this.” We can present some kind of an alibi in order to show that the person wasn’t in the place during the time when the incident was said to have happened. Those cases sometimes involve misidentification.

Another common defense is consent, whereby we claim that the act was not unwanted or against the will of the victim. This is more difficult to prove. Unless there is a witness or audio-video recording (which is unusual), it basically becomes a “he-said she-said case.” These cases often involve introducing the sexual history of the couple and/or the victim, which is a strategy that needs to be well thought-out so that it doesn’t backfire to the jury and appear as if the defendant is blaming the victim.

Consent does not apply to offenses involving children where the minors are below the age of consent. However, there is a specific statute in Utah that deals with sexual conduct between an emancipated adult and a 16 or 17-year old. The final defense is claiming insanity, a mental defect or mental incapacity, but this defense is very rare.

What Are The Penalties And Collateral Consequences Associated With A Sex Crime Conviction?

Prison is a real possibility in a lot of these kinds of cases. Depending on the offense, the statutes often provide a mandatory minimum prison sentence, which can be six years, 10 years, 25 years or life in prison. Most sex offenses require a registration on the sexual registry, which can be for 10 years. If those offenses were to be repeated, then there would be a lifetime registry. There are other delineated offenses, which result in a lifetime registry right off-the-bat. Having these kinds of convictions on your record will certainly mean a loss of liberty and disclosure to the public through the registry. This can affect employment possibilities, housing possibilities and other important factors in a person’s life.

For more information on Sex Crime Cases In Utah, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 455-1743 today.

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