Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a 16 or 17 Year Old

Recent statistics in the State of Utah show an increase in prosecutions for unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17-year-old child. In the State of Utah, the age of consent is 18 years old. The age of consent refers to the minimum age for which an individual is legally old enough to consent to sexual activities. In other states, this offense is called "statutory rape."

In Utah, the crime occurs when an adult has unlawful sexual conduct with a minor who is 16 or 17 years old. The sexual conduct would not be considered a crime except for the fact that the statute provides that the child is too young to consent. In other words, these cases do not involve any allegation of rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy, or forcible sexual abuse.

Crimes for unlawful sexual conduct are rarely committed by strangers. Most of these cases involve allegations against a family friend, co-worker, neighbor, babysitter, or acquaintance. 

Attorney for Unlawful Sexual Conduct Crimes in Salt Lake City

If you were accused of committing Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a 16 or 17-year-old under Utah Code § 76-5-401.2 and § 76-5-407, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP.

We fight to protect our clients against the harsh penalties that can result from a conviction for sexually motivated crimes including all forms of unlawful sexual conduct crimes. Important defenses exist including an exception for married couples.   


Elements of Unlawful Sexual Conduct in Utah

At trial, the elements of the crime must be proven beyond all reasonable doubt. The elements of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17-year-old include:

1. The Defendant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly;

2. Had sexual intercourse with the minor; or

3. Engaged in any sexual act with the minor involving:

a. The touching, however slight, of the genitals of one person with the mouth or anus of another; and

b. The touching of minor’s genitals, mouth or anus involved the minor’s skin; or

c. Caused the penetration, however slight, of the genital or anal opening of minor by any foreign object, substance, instrument, or device, including a part of the human body;

4. With the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person or with the intent to cause substantial emotional or bodily pain to any person; or

5. Touched the skin of the minor’s anus, buttocks, or any part of his or her genitals or touched the skin of a female minor’s breast, or otherwise took indecent liberties with the minor, or caused the minor to take indecent liberties with the defendant or another person;

6. With the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person or with the intent to cause substantial emotional or bodily pain to any person.

7. At the time of the conduct, the minor was 16 or 17 years old; and

8. At the time of the conduct, the defendant was:

a. Seven or more but less than ten years older than the minor and defendant knew or reasonably should have known minor’s age; or

b. Ten or more years older than minor.


Penalties for Unlawful Sexual Conduct Crimes

The offense of unlawful sexual conduct with a 15 or 16-year-old can be charged as either a third-degree felony or a class A misdemeanor depending on whether the sex act involves penetration through sexual intercourse or oral sex. 

If the offense is charged as a third-degree felony, then the term of imprisonment does not exceed 5 years. See Utah Code Ann. §76-3-203(3). If the offense is charged as a class A misdemeanor then the term of imprisonment does not exceed one year. See Utah Code Ann. §76-3-204(1).


The Statutory Rape Marital Exemption in Utah

The State of Utah has a marital exemption for statutory rape or unlawful sexual conduct with a 15 or 16-year-old. Under this exemption, a husband and wife are permitted to have consensual sex even if their ages would prohibit it if they were not married.

For example, a man who is 24 years old could not legally have sex with a 16-year-old girl. Under Utah law, because the girl is only 16 years old she is not legally capable of giving consent for sexual conduct. However, if the man marries the girl (with her parent’s permission) and they live in Utah, then the man could not be prosecuted for having consensual sex with his wife even though she is only 16 years old.

The marital exception would prevent such a prosecution in Utah for statutory rape. On the other hand, if the man forced his wife to have sex with him against her will, then he could still be charged with rape even if it occurred when the two were legally married. 


Additional Resources

Utah's Statute for 76-5-401.  Unlawful sexual activity with a minor - Visit the Utah State Legislature for more information, elements, and penalties involving unlawful sexual activity with a minor.


Finding an Attorney for Unlawful Sexual Conduct in Utah

If you are under investigation for a sexually motivated crime such as unlawful sexual conduct or forcible sexual abuse then contact a criminal defense attorney in Salt Lake City at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP to discuss your case. We represent clients in Salt Lake County and the surrounding areas including Wasatch County, Morgan County, Summit County, Davis County, Tooele County, and Utah County.

A defendant convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16 or 17-year-old (domestic violence) may not possess, use or have control of a firearm or ammunition for life. See 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(9). With a felony conviction, for the duration of the sentence and for 10 years thereafter, the defendant must register as a sex offender. See Utah Code Ann. Section 77-27-21.5(12)(a). 

The attorneys at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP represent men and women charged with sexual abuse crimes throughout Greater Salt Lake including the communities of Herriman, the City of Taylorsville, Riverton, Magna, Kearns, Copperton Township, Holladay, Midvale, and Millcreek.

Our sex crime attorneys in Salt Lake City fight false allegations of sexual abuse throughout Salt Lake County and the surrounding areas. Let us put our experienced to work for you. Call today for a free consultation at (801) 532-5297.