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Unlawful Sex With A Minor

Unlawful Sex With A Minor

Statutory rape is the commonly used term for sexual activity which becomes a crime only because of the respective ages of the people who are involved. Statutory means as defined by statute, or under the law. In Utah, statutory rape is divided into three separate categories: Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor, Sexual Abuse of a Minor, and Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a 16 or 17 Year Old. These criminal charges are based on the idea that minors are not legally capable of consenting to sexual activity, even if they actively agree to participate. Therefore, “statutory rape” doesn’t involve the same kind of force or coercion that most people usually associated with the crime of “rape.” However, the penalties for statutory rape can be just as severe and life changing as those for standard rape.

Utah treats statutory rape much like child abuse; penalties can include fines, incarceration, and even registration as a sex offender. The consequences of a conviction for statutory rape can follow someone for the rest of their life, severely limiting employment opportunities, compromising professional licenses, and even dictating where they are allowed to live. These consequences can seem especially severe because many of the people who commit unlawful sex with a minor had no idea at the time that the other party was underage. If you have been charged with statutory rape or unlawful sex with a minor in Utah, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Utah Statutory Rape Crimes
Utah classifies statutory rape charges according to:
• The age of the minor
• The age of the other participant
• The type of sexual activity involved
The three general crimes are Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor, Sexual Abuse of a Minor, and Unlawful Sexual Contact with a 16 or 17 Year Old. Under all three of these categories the minor does not object to the sexual activity. If the sexual activity happens against the minor’s will, the crime is more likely to be charged as rape, forcible sodomy, aggravated sexual assault, or object rape, depending on the circumstances.
Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor
• Minor is 14 or 15 years old
• Sexual activity includes sex, oral sex, or genital penetration
The state of Utah uses the charge of Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor if, at the time the sexual activity took place, the minor was over the age of 14 but under the age of 16. The unlawful sexual activity involved may include having sex with the minor, engaging in a sex act which involves the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of the other person, or penetrating the minor’s genital or anal opening with a body part or any kind of object with the intention of either gratifying a sexual desire or causing emotional or bodily pain to the minor. The state of Utah applies the crime of Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor the same regardless of the gender of either of the participants in the sexual activity. Unlawful Sexual Activity with a minor is a third degree felony unless the defendant can prove that at the time of sexual activity took place he or she was less than four years older than the minor, in which case the crime is charged as class B misdemeanor.

Sexual Abuse of a Minor
• Minor is 14 or 15 years old
• Defendant is either more than seven years older than the minor or has a relationship of special trust with the minor
• Sexual activity includes touching private parts or taking indecent liberties
For the Utah crime of Sexual Abuse of a Minor to apply, the minor must be 14 or 15 years old and the defendant must be either at least seven years older than the minor or hold relationship of special trust with the minor. Under Utah law, those in a relationship of special trust include adult family members, teachers, employers, doctors, religious leaders, coaches, babysitters, counselors, a parent’s live-in boyfriend or girlfriend, or anyone else in a position of authority. The sexual activity involved in this crime can include touching the anus, buttocks, or genitals of a minor or the breasts of a female minor. It can also include taking “indecent liberties” with the minor or causing the minor to take “indecent liberties” with the adult for the purpose of inflicting physical or emotional pain or to gratify a sexual desire. The Utah law does not specifically define “indecent liberties,” but it can include acts such as exposing one’s genitals to the minor or talking to the minor about sexual activities. Sexual Abuse of a Minor is a class A misdemeanor. However, Sexual Abuse of a minor is a third degree felony if the actor was over 18 years of age at the time sexual activity took place and the actor held a position of special trust because they were a teacher or volunteer at the minor’s school.

Utah Statutory Rape Laws
Statutes governing Utah’s age of consent associated criminal charges, available defenses, and penalties for conviction. In Utah, it is illegal for an adult (someone 18 or older) to have sex with a minor (someone 15 or younger), even if the sex is consensual. Those who break the law have committed statutory rape. Statutory rape laws are premised on the assumption that minors are incapable of giving informed consent to sexual activities. Their incapacity is written into the statute—hence the term, “statutory” rape. The age of consent can vary among states, and some states differentiate between consensual sex between minors who are close in age (for example, two teenagers of the same age), as opposed to sex between a minor and a much older adult. Though statutory rape does not require that the prosecutor prove an assault, it is still rape. Of course, rape that does involve force or an assault is illegal in Utah and prosecuted as forcible rape. Assaults of a sexual nature may also be charged under the state’s assault and battery or child enticement or molestation laws.
• Rape of a child includes sexual intercourse between a minor who is 13 or younger and a defendant who is 18 or older. This offense is a first degree felony and is punishable by at least six years (and up to life) in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
• Object rape of a child includes sexual penetration (however slight) with an object other than a body part, between a minor who is 13 or younger and a defendant who is 18 or older. This offense is a first degree felony, punishable by at least five years (and up to life) in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
• Sodomy on a child includes anal or oral sex between a minor 13 or younger and a defendant of any age. This offense is a first degree felony and is punishable by at least six years (and up to life) in prison, a fine of $10,000, or both.
• Unlawful sexual conduct includes intercourse, penetration (however slight), sexual touching, or oral sex between a 16 or 17-year-old minor and a defendant who is seven, eight, or nine years older than the minor and knew or reasonably should have known the minor’s age, or a defendant who is ten or more years older than the victim. If the sexual activity involved only touching, unlawful sexual conduct is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of as much as $2,500, or both. Otherwise, the offense is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of $5,000, or both.
• Unlawful sexual activity with a minor includes intercourse, penetration (however slight), or oral sex between a 14 or 15 year old minor, and a defendant who is 18 or older. If the defendant was fewer than four years older than the minor, the offense is a class B misdemeanor and is punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Otherwise, the offense is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of $5,000, or both.
• Sexual abuse of a minor includes sexual touching with the intent to arouse or sexually gratify either or both parties, between a 14 or 15-year-old victim, and a defendant who is at least seven years older than the victim. The offense is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of as much as $2,500, or both.
• Sexual abuse of a child involves sexual touching with the intent to arouse or sexually gratify either or both parties, between a victim who is younger than 14 and a defendant who is 18 or older. The offense is a second degree felony, punishable by at least one year (and up to 15 years) in prison, a fine of as much as $10,000, or both.
• Unlawful adolescent sexual activity involves two minors who engage in sexual activity, including intercourse, penetration (however slight), sexual touching, oral sex, or anal sex. Penalties depend on the ages of the defendant and victim.

• Sexual activity between a 17-year-old and a minor who is 12 or 13 or between a 16-year-old and a 12-year-old is a third degree felony. Potential punishments include up to five years in prison, a fine of $5,000, or both.
• Sexual activity between a 16-year-old and a 13-year-old or between a 14 or 15-year-old and a 12-year-old is a class A misdemeanor. Potential punishments include up to one year in prison, a fine of as much as $2,500, or both.
• Sexual activity between a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old or between a 15-year-old and a 13-year old is a class B misdemeanor. Potential punishments include up to six months in jail, a fine of as much as $1,000, or both.
• Sexual activity between a 12 or 13-year-old and another minor who is 12 or 13 or between a 14-year-old and a 13-year-old is a class C misdemeanor. Potential punishments include up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $750, or both.
Sex Offender Registration
State law requires that, in addition to the applicable fines and prison time, people convicted of certain sexual crimes (including some instances of statutory rape) must register as sex offenders.

Defenses to a Statutory Rape Charge in Utah
Defendants charged with statutory rape have the usual defenses available to all criminal defendants, starting with “Someone else committed this crime.” Or defendants may argue that the claimed conduct did not occur. One or more of the following defenses may also apply.
Marriage
Utah has a marital exemption for statutory rape, which allows married people to have consensual sex even if their ages would prohibit it if they were not married. This defense is a remnant of the marital rape exemption. Minors are legally incapable of giving consent to having sex.
The “Romeo and Juliet” Exemption
Named after Shakespeare’s young lovers, “Romeo and Juliet” exceptions are intended to prevent serious criminal charges against teenagers who engage in consensual sex with others close to their own age. In Utah, there is a Romeo and Juliet exemption for consensual sex between minors who are close in age and even when one party is a minor, but the defendant is fewer than seven (or ten) years older than the minor. However, teenagers who engage in consensual sexual acts can still face criminal charges for unlawful adolescent sexual activity even if both parties are minors.
Mistake of Age
Defendants accused of statutory rape often claim that they had no reason to know that their partner was underage. They may argue that the victim herself represented that she was older than she was, and that a reasonable person would have believed her. But under almost all circumstances in Utah, even a reasonable mistake of age is not a defense to a charge of statutory rape. However, it can be a defense to a charge of unlawful sexual conduct that a defendant who is seven, eight, or nine years older than a 16 or 17-year old victim did not know that the child’s age.
See a Lawyer
If you are facing a statutory rape charge, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area. The law can change at any time, and a lawyer can evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case against you and help develop any defenses that might apply to your case. A lawyer can often negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser charge or a reduction in penalties (such as, for example, probation instead of prison time) and will know how prosecutors and judges typically handle cases like yours.

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Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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Michael Anderson

About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.