Homicide includes directly, accidentally, or intentionally causing the death of another human being. Accidental and intentional cause of death can be defined as being the driver of a bank robbery, in which someone dies. Although they never shot anyone or went inside of the bank, they could be charged with felony murder. 

 Homicide also includes causing the death of a human being through gross negligence. For instance, a person operating a vehicle while intoxicated may be charged with negligent homicide if they kill someone in an accident.

In the latest legislative session, the Utah Legislature changed the law for Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor, Utah Code § 76-2-304.5. The previous version of the law made it unlawful to engage in “sexual conduct” with a minor between the ages of 16 and 18 if the perpetrator was found to be ten or more years older than the minor at the time of the conduct.

Now, the law divides the offense into two categories of offenders: (1) offenders that are ten or more years older than the minor at the time of the conduct, or (2) offenders that are between seven and ten years older than the minor at the time of the conduct.

For those offenders between seven and ten years older than the minor at the time of the sexual conduct, the new statute requires that the perpetrator “knew or reasonably should have known the age of the minor.” For offenders ten years or older than the minor at the time of the sexual conduct, the State does not have to prove that the offender knew or should have known the minor was between the age of 16 and 18. The amended law specifies that offenders that are ten years or older than the minor cannot claim they were mistaken or unaware of the minor’s age, but this defense is available to the class of offenders that are seven to ten years older than the minor. See Utah Code § 76-2-304.5.

For the full text of the changes to the bill, visit the Utah Legislature website at: HB0010.html. The Governor signed the bill into law on March 22, 2013.

It is unclear in the amendment how the State of Utah will go about proving how a defendant “knew or reasonably should have known” that a victim was between 16 and 18 years of age at the time of engaging in unlawful sexual conduct with them. Much like other crimes that depend on proof of a defendant’s mental state at the time of the offense, the State of Utah will likely have to rely on circumstantial evidence. For example, if an alleged offender were to pick up the victim from a high school, a jury might be convinced that the offender knew or should have known that the victim was between 16 and 18 years old.

This addition to the Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor statute broadens the scope of the law, making it possible to prosecute more individuals. At the same time, the change complicates the prosecution of those found to be between seven and ten years older than the minor. If you or a loved one has been accused of a sex crime, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced sex crime attorney to help navigate through the ever-changing laws criminalizing sex crimes and achieve the most positive outcome for you and your family.

Words you don’t want to hear: “I’m with Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC with the show To Catch A Predator” and “Yes, you will be on TV”.

Men show up to meet an underaged girl, who gave her age as 13, but the men only find a TV camera crew as well as the police. These sting operations happened in Utah, but are not necessarily video taped. At about 6 minutes into the video there is a man who strips naked and then chases a cat around the house with a tub of cool whip.

A woman is pulled over for a routine traffic stop in which she wasn’t even taken out of her car. This woman claims the police officer sexually assaulted her during that stop; however, video shows that no abuse occurred and the officer’s reputation is saved. The police officer was facing firing from his job, prison time and sex offender registration.

The woman who falsely accused the officer of sex abuse finally admitted the story was fabricated, when she was confronted with the video evidence. She explains why she made the story up:

Interviewer: “Why would you do something like this to somebody who didn’t do anything to you except write you a ticket?”

False Accuser: “I’ll explain why. If I would have been driving a Jaguar, if I had been driving a Mercedes, or anything along those lines I would have never been stopped. And I personally think he had a personal attack on me because of my character.”

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

That’s what one LDS Bishop dealt with recently. A girl told her father that a teenage relative had sexually abused her. The father didn’t believe his daughter, so he had their church Bishop talk to his daughter to determine if she was telling the truth. Before she spoke with her Bishop, the police had already been notified and were investigating. When the girl met with the Bishop, he said that he didn’t think it was a good idea to talk to police until he talked to the relative and his parents. For that reason, prosecutors charged him with a third-degree felony of witness tampering and class B misdemeanor failure to report child abuse.

Ultimately, the prosecutors dismissed the charges. But now, this Bishop has a stain on his reputation that cannot be easily erased. This is what sex crime charges do: they ruin reputations. Even though the Bishop was innocent of the charges and was trying to do the right thing, the police and prosecution decided to charge first and ask questions later.

If a person is about to be charged with a crime, it is beneficial to hire an attorney who can sometimes prevent the charges from even being filed. If charges are ultimately filed, then an aggressive attorney can defend those charges.

How’s this for an undercover sting operation?

  • “an undercover detective violated department policy by touching a masseuse’s vagina while she was rubbing him”
  • “a detective who kissed the prostitute’s breasts… argued it was not a policy violation since he had no control over her placing her breasts in his face”
  • “an undercover detective touched the legs of a masseuse as the detective inquired whether the woman would massage him while topless”
  • “detectives in at least three cases in 2011 violated the department’s ‘no touch policy.'”
  • “vice detectives were not booking evidence into storage in a timely manner”

These were the findings of the Utah Civilian Board review of police action. Because of these bad police actions, the Salt Lake City Chief of Police has disbanded the vice squad. Police officers will no longer be setting up stings to catch illegal massages.

If you are charged with a sex crime involving the former vice squad, call an attorney that can help you navigate your issues. There may be police misconduct!