LDS Bishop

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.

No More Salt Lake Vice Squad

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!

Does Utah’s Sex Offender Registry work?

Any politician running for office or police officer patrolling the street will likely say, “Utah’s sex offender registry keeps our children safe.” But an objective look at the data shows that the registry may not be having an actual affect on our children’s safety.

Numerous studies and reports have concluded the same thing: sex offenders have a low recidivism rate. (Jeffrey C. Sandler, Naomi J. Freeman, Kelly M. Socia: Does a Watched Pot Boil? A Time-Series Analysis of New York State’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law (2008)). One study examined sex crime rates committed by first-time offenders as well as previously convicted offenders from 1986 through 2007 — the 10 years before New York enacted the Sex Offender Registration Act through 11 years after. Tellingly,the recidivism rates for the non-registry group and registry group were unchanged. This indicates that the sex offender registry did not have any impact on the prevention or reduction of sex crimes. The U.S. Department of Justice’s reported in 2004 that 95 percent of sex offenses are committed by first time offenders, or said another way, people with no prior conviction for a sex crime. This means that the sex offender registry doesn’t even affect 95% of all the crimes that it’s supposed to prevent.

The registry doesn’t serve as a deterrent to people committing sex crimes, it doesn’t reduce the number of sex crimes, and it doesn’t protect children or society at large. Unfortunately, politicians and police will continue to vouch for it’s effectiveness. More and more people will have to register their names on the list. The best way to stop this madness is to aggressively fight any sex crimes charge to prevent yourself from being put on the registry.

Prefile Representation in Utah

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be issued a citation by a police officer in order to be charged with a crime. After police do an investigation, it is up to the District Attorney’s office to decide whether a person should be charged with a crime. The time between an officer writing a report and a prosecutor deciding to press charges is an important period called “prefile.” Simply put, prefile is when a person hasn’t been charged with a crime but want an attorney to help them avoid charges. An attorney will get a copy of the police report and often talk to witnesses.

Usually, our advice is to NEVER speak with the police. The only reason police talk to people is to have them incriminate themselves.  Police are not interested in ‘information’, or exculpating a person. However, if a person speaks to the police WITH an attorney, the attorney will control the interaction. An attorney will protect a person from being tricked, deceived, or otherwise manipulated into incriminating statements.

The best defense is an aggressive defense. If you can prevent charges from evening happening, it is not only less expensive, but it is better in the long run because you’ll never have to set foot in a courtroom.

Utah Sex Offender Registry Changes

Is justice served when a 23-year-old who dates and has a consensual sex with a 17-year-old be put on the sex offender registry next to someone who has raped a 5-year-old?

No. The crimes are different and they should be punished differently.

The Utah Sex Offender Registry is intended to provide the public with information on individuals who have been convicted of certain crimes, which include:

Kidnapping; Child kidnapping; Aggravated kidnapping; A Felony or Class A Misdemeanor violation of Enticing a minor; A Felony violation of Unlawful sexual activity with a minor; Sexual abuse of a minor; Unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17 year old; Rape; Rape of a child; Object rape; Object rape of a child; A Felony violation of Forcible sodomy; Forcible sexual abuse; Sexual abuse of a child or aggravated sexual abuse of a child; Aggravated sexual assault; Sexual exploitation of a minor; Incest; Lewdness (4 convictions required for registration); Sexual Battery (4 convictions required for registration); Lewdness involving a child; Aggravated exploitation of prostitution; Aggravated Human Trafficking; Sexual Exploitation of a Vulnerable adult; Custodial Sexual Relations (person in custody under age of 18); A Felony or Class A Misdemeanor Violation of Voyeurism; Sodomy of a child.

As you can see from the list, these are very serious charges. But a blanket approach is not good and the Utah Legislature is responding to that criticism with H.B. 13 – Offender Registry Review.

Under the new law, offenders convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17 year old, unlawful sexual activity with a 14 or 15 year-old minor or voyeurism could petition a judge for removal from the registry after 5 years instead of 10 years. The offender must complete all required counseling and broken no other laws since their sexual offense. The judge gets the final say to whether the person will be removed early.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune’s reporting of Utah Department of Correction statistics, “there are about 6,900 sex offenders on Utah’s list. Of those, 167 are registered for unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17 year old, 747 for unlawful sexual activity with a minor and 18 for voyeurism.”

This bill will allow individuals convicted of unlawful sexual activity and misdemeanor violations of voyeurism to get their lives back on track after 5 years instead of 10. It is a common sense compromise between proponents of the sex offender registry and people who believe that the sex offender registry is unfair.

You can track the status of the bill at http://le.utah.gov/~2012/bills/hbillint/hb0013.htm.

False Rape Accusation in Utah

Imagine that you go on a date with someone but the date doesn’t go well. You end the date, wish the other person well, and go home. Two weeks later, police knock on your door and tell you that are being arrested for rape. With a shocked look on your face, you ask who is accusing you of such a crime. The police officer says, “The person you went on a date with two weeks ago.”

Although rape does occur at alarming frequency, false allegations of rape also occur. A prosecutor does not have to have actual physical evidence to charge you with rape. Many times, a rape case comes down to a “he said, she said” situation. This becomes an even worse situation of the person who falsely accused you of rape has a bad reputation for doing this.

In Utah, Courts follow Rule 412, which says: “The following evidence is not admissible in a criminal proceeding involving alleged sexual misconduct: (1) evidence offered to prove that a victim engaged in other sexual behavior; or (2) evidence offered to prove a victim’s sexual predisposition.”

Basically, this rule prohibits defense attorneys from proving that the rape accuser has a propensity to engage in sexual relations with other people and they acted in propensity by falsely accusing someone of rape. If you’ve been falsely accused of rape, it is important to have a defense attorney who understands this rule and has a strategy to get around this rule. Even under this prohibition, a defense attorney may be able to help prove that your rape accuser had sex with someone else who is the source of the physical evidence in the case.

If you are falsely accused of rape, there are ways to defend yourself. Do not go to the police to tell your side of the story. Instead, find a defense attorney that can defend you against these false allegations.