Utah Legislature Modifies Unlawful Sex with a Minor Laws

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.

Interesting And Unique To Catch A Predator Video

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.

Check out the interesting video below:

Difficulties Encountered When Charged With A Utah Sex Crime

Although in the Utah criminal justice system everyone without exception is considered innocent until proven guilty, there are consequences of merely being charged with a Utah sex crime that can impact a person’s everyday life; such as employment and housing opportunities. A good Utah sex crimes defense attorney may be able to minimize some of the negative impact that comes along with being charged with a rape, child sex abuse or possession of child porn.

Even after you have had your sex case dismissed or have been acquitted, the mere fact that you were arrested may continue to impact your life because your criminal history will continue to reflect that you were arrested. In such a case, you are entitled to have your record expunged and it is highly advisable that you do so. Once your record is expunged, you are legally entitled to answer the question of whether you have ever been arrested or charged with a crime by saying no.

S.L.C. Let’s Beat the O.C.

The LA times reported an Orange County teacher accused of being sexually involved with one of her students. Band teacher, Carlie Atterbury was accused of having a sexual relationship with one of her 15 year old students for over a year. Prosecutors said that “The two regularly met at Attebury’s home and exchanged sexually explicit text messages”.  Atterbury is being tried January 2011.

 What does this mean for Utah? Just because our school districts are populous, juveniles beware of sexual relations with a school teacher.

Competent to Stand Trial in Utah?

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.

Utah’s Legal Definition of the Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

(1)   A person is guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor:

     (a) when he knowingly produces, distributes, possesses, or possesses with intent to distribute material or a live performance depicting:

          (i) a nude or partially nude minor for the purpose of causing sexual arousal of any person; or

         (ii) any minor’s engagement in sexual conduct alone or with another person; or

     (b)  if he is a minor’s parent or legal guardian and knowingly consents to or permits that minor to be sexually exploited under Subsection (1)(a) above.

(2) Sexual exploitation of a minor is a felony of the second degree

(3) It is a separate offense under this section:

     (a) For each minor depicted, an dif more than one minor is depicted in the same material or live performance in violation of this section, the depiction of each individual minor or the material or live performance is a separate offense;

     (b) Each time the same minor is depicted in different material; and

     (c) Each time the same minor is depicted in a separate live performance.