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Utah Sex Offenses and Why They are Different

In Utah, sexual misconducts and sexual assaults sum up what sex crimes are. Sex offenses in Utah are punishable and grouped as misdemeanor or felony based on the magnitude. Sex crimes threaten the safety of the public, culture, and ethics, which is why it is legally tackled through the judicial system. Alleged sex offenders not only suffer long term collateral damages but may face imprisonment as well if found guilty.

What is a Utah Sex Crime?

Sex crimes are violations entailing violent acts of sex, nonconsensual engagement in sex, sexual misconduct in a professional setting, and illegal sexual knowledge of a minor. According to Utah Code Section 76–1–601, sex crimes include object rape, child rape, sodomy, and aggravated sexual abuse. The Utah Code §76–5–4 provides a further explanation of unlawful sexual activities related to age, intoxication, kinship, and profession.

What are the Different Types of Sex Offenses?

Sex offenses generally have grave consequences in terms of the severity of the penalties attached to these crimes. Most especially if a minor is involved, the degree of severity of the punishment is increased. Different types of sex crimes, along with the definition, penalties, and statutory citations as found in the Utah Code, include:

Rape: As described in Utah Code Ann. § 76–5–402, rape occurs when an individual is involved in sexual intercourse with another person without consent, whether both parties are married or not. Anyone who commits the crime is guilty of a first-degree felony under the Utah Criminal Code and will serve a penalty of five years to life imprisonment. In cases where the victim was seriously injured, the punishment is a minimum of fifteen years incarceration or life imprisonment without parole option if the defendant is a repeat sexual offender. The term ‘without consent’ means the victim expresses a lack of consent through words or reaction, the offender uses physical force or violence on the victim, the offender threatens the use of violence to coerce the victim, and when the victim is unconscious or physically unable to resist the act.

Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor: Under the Utah Code Ann. § 76–5–401, illegal sexual activity with a minor is defined as when a person who is eighteen years or older is involved in sexual activity with a juvenile in cases where the performance is not considered as rape, object rape, aggravated sexual assault, or forcible sodomy. The sex abuser either had sexual intercourse with the minor or engaged in sexual activity with the young person, which involved using the genitals and the mouth or anus of the other party. It also incorporates penetration of the minor’s anal opening or genital with any object, device, or substance to cause emotional or physical pain or arouse or gratify the sexual desires of either party. Unlawful sexual activity with a minor is a third-degree felony that carries a penalty not exceeding five years imprisonment. However, this sex crime can be a Class B misdemeanor if there is evidence that the defendant was not four years older than the minor when the act occurred. In this case, the penalty does not exceed six months imprisonment. In the State of Utah, a minor is fourteen years old or older but is younger than sixteen years old when the sexual activity occurred.

Child Pornography: Also known as “enticing a minor,” child pornography, as stated in Utah Code Ann. § 76–5–401, is when a person entices a minor using text messages or the internet to solicit the minor or partake in any sexual act which contravenes the state’s criminal code. A person is also guilty of child pornography if the individual produces or possesses, with the intention to distribute, child pornography, views, or intentionally distributes child pornography. The crime also cuts across the minor’s parent or guardian, who allows sexual exploitation. In Utah, child pornography is a second-degree felony that carries a minimum punishment of three years of imprisonment, a maximum penalty of fifteen years of imprisonment, and a fine of $10,000.

Sexual Abuse of a Minor: Per Utah Code Ann. § 76–5–401.1, sexual abuse of a minor ensues when a defendant that is four years or older than a minor sexually abuses the juvenile, but the act does not amount to rape, object rape, forcible sodomy, unlawful sexual activity with a minor or aggravated sexual assault. A crime is also classified under this category if the person inappropriately touches the minor’s anus, any part of their genitals, and buttocks to stir up sexual desire or cause bodily or emotional harm. Sexual abuse of a minor is a Class A misdemeanor with a penalty of not more than one year of jail time.

Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a 16-or–17-Year-Old: Following Utah Code Ann. § 76–5–401.2, illegal sexual activities with a minor around 16 or 17 years of age that does not result in rape, forcible sexual abuse, forcible sodomy, object rape, aggravated sexual assault is a punishable offense. A person is guilty of this crime when such an individual is seven or more years older than the minor and was aware of the minor’s age at the time of the sexual conduct. The sexual activity can be sexual intercourse with the minor, sexual acts involving genitals or oral penetration irrespective of the sex of both parties, penetration (no matter how small) of the minor’s genitals or anus using an object, instrument, or tool. Unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17-year-old is a third-degree felony with a penalty of not more than five years incarceration depending on if the crime includes any of the sexual conduct mentioned above. If the sexual activity involves touching the minor’s private areas such as anus, buttocks, and genitals with the desire to excite or cause bodily or emotional harm, the crime is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. The punishment for Class A misdemeanor is imprisonment of not more than one year.

Rape of a Child: Under Utah Code Ann. §76–5–402.1, rape of a child is a criminal activity that involves having sexual intercourse with a child below 14 years of age. This crime is a first-degree felony punishable by not less than 25 years imprisonment or life imprisonment without parole if the abuser caused bodily harm or has been previously convicted for a sexual assault.

Forcible Sodomy: Per Utah Code Ann. § 76–5–403, sodomy is when an abuser commits sexual acts with a person that is 14 years of age or older, which involves the mouth or anus of one person and the genitals of another irrespective of the sex of both parties. Sexual activity is forcible sodomy when one of the parties involved does not give consent. Forcible sodomy is a first-degree felony with a penalty of five years imprisonment or more. If the abuser causes bodily harm or was previously convicted of a sexual crime, the punishment is 15 years imprisonment or a life sentence. If the offender was previously convicted of a heinous sexual offense and is not less than 18 years at the time of the crime, then the penalty is a life sentence without parole.

Object Rape: According to Utah Code Ann. § 76–5–402.2, object rape entails a person, who without consent, penetrates another (14 years or older) using an object, instrument, device, or foreign tool in a part of the body that is not the genitals or mouth to deliberately stir up sexual desire or cause bodily/emotional harm. Object rape is a first-degree felony with a penalty not less than five years imprisonment or more. If the offender causes severe physical injury to the victim and has a previous record of sexual crime, the penalty is not less than 15 years imprisonment or more. If the abuser has faced conviction for a sexual offense previously and is not less than 18 years at the time of the crime, then the punishment is a life sentence without parole.

Object Rape of a Child: In conformity with Utah Code Ann. § 76–5–402.3, object rape of a child is described as the forceful penetration of a child below the age of 14 years using a foreign object, instrument, device, or tool on the part of the body that is not the genitals or mouth to excite or cause bodily or emotional harm. Object rape of a child is a first-degree felony with a penalty of not less than 25 years imprisonment. If the offender harms the child or was once convicted of a heinous sexual crime and is younger than 18 years at the time of the crime, the sex abuser will face a life sentence without parole.

Sodomy on a Child: As stated in Utah Code Ann. § 76–5–403.1, sodomy on a child is an illegal act that involves an adult engaging in sexual acts with a child not up to 14 years and the sexual activity involves the genitals, anus, or mouth of either the abuser or the child irrespective of both genders. Sodomy on a child is a first-degree felony, and offenders will face jail term not less than 25 years. If the abuser caused severe bodily harm to the child or has ever been convicted of a serious sexual crime and is not up to 18 years of age at the time of the crime, the penalty is a life sentence without parole.

Forcible Sexual Abuse: Per Utah Code Ann. § 76–5–404, forcible sexual abuse is when an individual sexually abuses a person who is 14 years or older, using force, but the act does not amount to rape, object rape, forcible sodomy, unlawful sexual activity with a minor, or aggravated sexual assault. The abuser touches the victim’s anus, any part of the genitals, and buttocks without consent from the victim to stir up sexual desire or cause physical or emotional harm. This act is a second-degree felony, and the punishment is a minimum of one year in prison and a maximum of 15 years imprisonment. If the offender caused bodily harm to the victim, the penalty is 15 years imprisonment or a life sentence.

Aggravated Sexual Assault: Under Utah Code Ann. § 76–5–405, aggravated sexual assault is committed during or attempted rape, forcible sexual abuse, object rape, or forcible sodomy, the abuser threatens the victim using a dangerous weapon or threaten to kidnap, kill or cause physical harm to be inflicted on anyone or is aided by another person.

Aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree felony, and the punishment is dependent on various circumstances. If the aggravated sexual assault happened during rape, forcible sexual abuse, object rape, or forcible sodomy, the penalty is not less than 15 years imprisonment up to a life sentence. If the aggravated sexual assault took place during an attempted rape, attempted forcible sodomy, attempted object rape, the punishment involves at least ten years imprisonment or probably a life sentence.

Sex Offender Levels of Classification in Utah

Utah classifies sex offenders into three levels according to risk potential:

  • Level One: Offenders registered at this level are individuals with the lowest potential of committing the act again. Abusers are to register with the sheriff in the county of residence. The sheriff keeps the records of the offenders and may decide to inform the indigenes.
  • Level Two: This level is for sex criminals with a moderate risk of relapsing. Level two offenders are to register with the sheriff’s department of the county. The sheriff must notify the schools around, neighbors, community groups, and the offender’s employer.
  • Level Three: Offenders registered in level three have the highest risk of relapsing and the possibility of being a potential menace to the community. At this level, registration to the sheriff’s department is mandatory. Persons living in the area where the offender resides will receive notifications, and flyers are distributed to schools, homes, and the community with the offender’s information on it, such as an address, name, picture, and criminal record. The sheriff will forward a press release to the local tv stations and newspapers and notify the offender’s employer. The level of risk is determined using the amount of data on the offender available.

How Do I Find A Sex Offender Near Me in Utah?

For the public’s safety and to keep Utah residents abreast of the whereabouts and activities of sex offenders within the community, the Utah Department of Corrections maintains the Sex Offender & Kidnap Offender Registry and contains persons convicted of sex crimes under the state code § 77–41–110. Interested parties can search for sex offenders online through the registry. The Sheriff Office in the county of residence may also provide information on sex offenders living in the neighborhood. Parties can query the Sheriff’s Office by mail or in person.

Utah Sex Offender Registry

Utah requires that sex abusers register on the Sex Offender & Kidnap Offender Registry to keep a tab on movement and inform the general public about sex violators within the neighborhood. Registered parties are guilty of offenses such as kidnapping, rape, sodomy, lewdness, voyeurism, child sexual abuse, amongst other specific felony charges. However, not all sex criminals are required by law to register as a sex offender. Minor sex crimes classified as misdemeanor does not require registration as a sex offender.

To find a sex offender online, interested individuals can visit the Utah Department of Corrections’ webpage and select the sex offender search option, which leads to a dedicated search portal. The search process involves inputting details such as an address, city, and offender’s name. The registry’s specific information includes crime committed, names and aliases, occupation details, education details, vehicle details, professional licenses, date of birth, height, weight, eye & hair color, primary and secondary residences of the sex offender.

Utah citizens can also stay ahead by subscribing to email alerts to receive a notification whenever a registered sex offender is within the vicinity. In Utah, searches for sex offenders can be done by contacting the Utah Department of Corrections Sex and Kidnap Offender Registry via telephone number (801) 495 7700 and email registry@utah.gov.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are the Sex Offender Restrictions in Utah?

The following are restrictions mandated on sex offenders living and working in Utah:

  • A sex offender may not be in a protected area unless:
  • The individual is required to perform parental responsibilities (Utah Code § 77–27–21.7).
  • The protected area is a public or private school, and the school is used and open for a public event other than a school-related function involving minors’ presence.
  • The protected area is a licensed daycare located within a building that is open to the public for purposes other than the daycare or preschool facility’s operation, and the sex offender will not enter a part of the building the daycare is functioning or preschool facility.

2. A sex offender may not serve as an athletic coach or trainer for any sports team that consists of a child or children as a member.

Other restricted areas include public swimming pools, public playgrounds, and community park open to the public.

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