Statutory Rape

Statutory Rape or Unlawful Sex with a Minor in Utah

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. The criminal defense attorneys at Intermountain Legal have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate this difficult situation and work towards the best possible conclusion.

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. See Utah Code 76-5-401.

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. See Utah Code 76-5-404.01. 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. See Utah Code 76-5-404.1.

Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a 16 or 17-Year-Old

  • Minor is 16 or 17 years old
  • Defendant is one of the following:
    -Between 7 and 10 years older than the minor and knew or should have known the minor’s age
    -More than 10 years older than the minor
    -Holds a relationship of special trust to the minor
  • Sexual activity includes sex, oral sex, penetration, touching private parts, or taking indecent liberties

As specified by the title of this offense, a victim of Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a 16 or 17 Year Old must have been 16 or 17 years old at the time the sexual contact took place. If the actor is between and seven and ten years older than the victim, the law does make some concession for mistakes about the victim’s age: the actor either must have known or reasonably should have known how old the victim was. However, if the actor is more than ten years older than the victim or is a teacher or a volunteer at the victim’s school, the actor can be charged with Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a 16 or 17 Year Old even if they had no way of knowing the victim’s age. This remains true even if the victim actively misrepresented their age.

A person can be charged with this crime if they have sex with the minor, engage in any sex act with the minor involving the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of the other person, or penetrate the genitals or anus of the minor with any object or body part with the intent of causing physical or emotional pain or to gratify a sexual desire. This crime is a third degree felony.

Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a 16 or 17 Year Old can also include touching the genitals, buttocks, or anus of any minor or the breast of a female minor or taking an indecent liberty with the minor or causing the minor to take an indecent liberty with the actor. This crime is a class A misdemeanor. However, if at the time of the offense the actor was a teacher or a volunteer at the minor’s school, then this crime is charged as a third degree felony.  See Utah Code 76-5-401.2.

Experienced Defense of Statutory Rape Crimes in Utah

If you have been charged with a statutory rape crime in Utah, there is hope. The criminal defense attorneys at Intermountain Legal have experience successfully helping people in exactly these situations. They know the law and they know how to navigate the legal system to get you the best possible outcome in your case. Don’t let one mistake ruin the rest of your life. Call today for a free consultation and let us put our experience to work for you. To set up a free initial consultation with a skilled attorney, contact our office in Salt Lake City today.