Under Utah statute 76-10-1313 a person is guilty of sex solicitation if they offer or agree to commit any sexual activity with another person for a fee or offer or agree to pay a fee for any sexual activity with another person. This is an intent based crime, meaning you must have the intent to engage in the sexual act in order to be guilty of the offense. Utah recently broadened the law to include requesting another person to expose their genitals or masturbate or engage in any act of lewdness.

The purpose behind the broader definition is to assist undercover officers trying to bust prostitutes. Often prostitutes will ask potential customers to expose themselves as a test to show they are not law enforcement which leaves undercover officers in the awkward position of complying with the request or risk losing the bust. Now officers can make an arrest when asked to engage in the sexual conduct as defined by law, including being asked to expose themselves.

Sex solicitation is a class B misdemeanor in Utah and if convicted of the offense, a violator could face up to 6 months in jail, a fine and up to a year of probation.

In recent weeks, Salt Lake and Davis counties have had a rash of incidents involving one of more flashers. Earlier this week, Farmington Police arrested a 34 year old Layton man believed to have exposed himself to 10 women. According to police the man said it was a “turn on and a thrill for him” to expose himself. Police are unable to determine at this time if this is the same person connected to reports of a nude man in the Mill Creek Canyon area.

In Utah, a person is guilty of Lewdenss if he or she commits a sexual act in front of another in public which does not amount to rape, object rape, forcible sodomy, forcible sexual abuse, aggravated sexual assault or an attempt to commit such offenses in a public place or under circumstances which the person should know will likely cause affront or alarm to, on, or in the presence of another who is 14 years of age or older. It includes acts such as sodomy or sexual intercourse, exposing the private areas of the body, masturbating, and other acts which could be considered “lewd” by a reasonable person.

It is a class B misdemeanor if this a first or second offense however it is a third degree felony if convicted of lewdness two or more times or if you are a convicted sex offender. If the act is committed in from of a child (someone under 14 years of age) then it is a class A misdemeanor. Here in Utah, public breastfeeding is exempt from  lewdness statutes even if some area of the breast is exposed.

If you have been charged with an offense which may violate public decency laws contact an attorney for advice.

In Utah, a defendant must be able to understand the nature of the charges against them, their rights and be able to participate in their own defense and if they are unable to do so because of mental illness or other mental deficiencies a defendant may be found incompetent to stand trial. Between 2% and 8% of all felony defendants in the United States are referred for competency evaluations. Here in Utah, if a defendant is found incompetent to stand trial they are committed to the executive director of the Department of Human Services to see if they can be restored to competency through treatment and/or medication. If however, competency isn’t restored and there is a substantial probability that the defendant will not become competent in the foreseeable future the court must release the defendant from the custody of the director unless the court is informed of civil commitment proceedings.
Such is the case for a Utah man who in 2007 was charged with rape, sodomy and aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Lonnie Johnson was declared incompetent to stand trial after numerous competency evaluations and has been held at the Utah State Hospital since 2008. In April 2011 Mr. Johnson was released by a 4th District Court Judge who had no legal basis for continuing to hold him based on a doctor’s report that it was unlikely that he would ever regain competency. Prosecutor’s are now working to have Johnson civilly committed. If however prosecutors are unable to show that Johnson’s mental illness makes him a danger to himself or others it is possible he will be set free.