Sexual Abuse of a Minor

Recent statistics show that Utah is ranked eighth among states for high rates of child abuse and ranks first among states for sexual abuse of a minor. In 2014, there were 6,900 child abuse cases that were recorded in Utah, and 27 percent of those cases were sex abuse. This percentage is the highest in any state.

Under Section 76-1-301(2), Utah law provides no statute of limitations period that applies to the sexual abuse or molestation of a minor child. In other words, the prosecution for sex crimes against children can be commenced more than four (4) years after the crime allegedly occurred.

Sexual abuse of a minor in the state of Utah is a very serious crime that comes with very serious penalties.

Attorney for Sexual Abuse of Minors in Salt Lake City

If you were accused of committing Sexual Abuse of a Minor Child under Utah Code § 76-5-401.1 and Utah Code § 76-5-407, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP.

The criminal defense attorneys here at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP will fight and defend anyone accused of a sexual crime such as aggravated sexual assault, sexual exploitation of a minor, indecency with a child, child pornography, prostitution, and custodial sexual misconduct.

Call (801) 532-5297.



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Elements of Sexual Abuse Crimes in Utah

The elements of sexual abuse that must be proven by the prosecution at trial include:

1. The defendant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly does one of the following:

a. Touching the skin of the minor’s anus, buttocks, or any part of his or her genitals; or

b. Touching the skin of a female minor’s breast;

c. Otherwise taking indecent liberties with a minor; or

d. Causing the minor to take indecent liberties with any person;

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

3. The minor was 14 or 15 years old at the time of the conduct; and

4. The defendant was seven or more years older than the minor.


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Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor

The crime of Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor is charged under Utah Code § 76-5-401 and § 76-5-407. The elements of the offense can be charged under several different variations.

The first variation applies to CR1616A, Conduct Sufficient to Constitute Sexual Intercourse for Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor, Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a 16 or 17 Year Old, or Rape. Under the first variation, the elements of the offense are:

1. The defendant Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly had sexual intercourse;

2. With a minor; and

3. the minor was 14 or 15 years old at the time of the conduct.

Under the second variation, the elements of the offense are:

1. the defendant Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly engaged in any sexual act with the minor;

2. the sexual act involved touching, however slight, of the genitals of one person with the mouth or anus of another;

3. he touching of the minor’s genitals, mouth or anus involved the minor’s skin; and

4. the minor was 14 or 15 years old at the time of the conduct.

Under the third variation, the elements of the offense are:

1. The defendant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused the penetration, however slight, of the genital or anal opening of the minor child by any foreign object, substance, instrument, or device, including a part of the human body;

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

3. The minor was 14 or 15 years old at the time of the conduct.


Elements of Sexual Abuse of a Child in Utah

The crime of Sexual Abuse of a Child under Utah Code § 76-5-404.1 and § 76-5-407, include the following elements:

  1. Defendant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
    • touched the anus, buttocks, or genitals of the minor, even if accomplished through clothing; or
    • touched the minor’s breast, even if accomplished through clothing; or
    • took indecent liberties with minor; or
    • caused the minor to take indecent liberties with the defendant or another; and
  2. Did so with the intent to:
    • cause substantial emotional or bodily pain to any person; or
    • arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person; and
  3. The minor was under 14 years old at the time of the conduct.

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Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child in Utah

The crime of Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child under Utah Code § 76-5-404.1 and § 76-5-407, includes proof of certain aggravating circumstances including:

  1. intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly used a dangerous weapon, used force, duress, violence, intimidation, coercion, menace, or threat of harm, or committed the offense during a kidnapping;
  2. intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused bodily injury or severe psychological injury to the minor during or as a result of the offense;
  3. was a stranger to minor or made friends with the minor for the purpose of committing the offense;
  4. intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly used or showed pornography, caused the minor to be photographed in a lewd condition during the course of the offense;
  5. was convicted of a sexual offense prior to this trial;
  6. committed a similar sexual act upon two or more victims at the same time or during the same course of conduct;
  7. has committed six or more separate acts that would each constitute a sexual offense;
  8. was in a position of special trust in relation to the minor;
  9. intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly encouraged, aided, allowed, or benefitted from acts of prostitution or sexual acts by the minor with any other person, or sexual performance by the minor before any other person, human trafficking, or human smuggling; or
  10. intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused the penetration, however slight, of minor’s genital or anal opening with any part of the human body other than the genitals or mouth.

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Utah's Sexual Abuse of a Child Statute

Under Utah law, a person commits “sexual abuse of a child” if that person “touches the anus, buttocks, or genitalia of any child, the breast of a female child, or otherwise takes indecent liberties with a child,” and does so “with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.” Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-404.1(2).
 
The offense is considered “aggravated” if, among other things, the person committing it “occupied a position of special trust in relation to the victim.” Id. § 76-5-404.1(4)(h). Under the statutory scheme, “any touching, even if accomplished through clothing, is sufficient to constitute” “touching” for the purposes of a prosecution for sexual abuse of a child. Id. § 76-5-407(3)(b).
 
The phrase “indecent liberties” is not defined by statute. Our supreme court, however, has declared that the term is not unconstitutionally vague, as long as it is “considered as referring to conduct of the same magnitude of gravity as that specifically described in the statute.” In re J.L.S., 610 P.2d 1294, 1296 (Utah 1980).

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Forensic Interviewer from the Children's Justice Center

In many of these cases, the courts allow the prosecutor to call a forensic interviewer from the Children's Justice Center. The prosecutor will often attempt to qualify these witnesses as an expert in two areas:

  • the reasons children make multiple and incomplete disclosures about abuse; and
  • the common behaviors of children who have been abused.

At trial, the forensic interviewer with the Children's Justice Center will often describe child interview protocols. These experts will testify about the reasons children make incomplete or inconsistent disclosures about sexual abuse. The experts are often asked by the prosecutor to explain why children respond to sexual abuse by demonstrating a wide and largely unpredictable array of behaviors.

According to these experts, the behaviors exhibited by children who have been subjected to sexual abuse can include depression, anxiety, changes in sleep, and changes in school performance. The changes are not to be expected in every case and ultimately are not reliable indicators of whether abuse has, or has not, occurred.

Of course, these behaviors might also be an indication that the child has not been truthful about whether the abuse occurred or not. In some cases, such behaviors are an indicator that the children have been coached to make false allegations.


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Additional Resources

Sexual Abuse of a Child - Visit the website of the Utah State Legislature to read the statute for sexual abuse of a child or aggravated sexual abuse of a child effective 5/13/2014. Find definitions under the statute including the definition for a “position of special trust.” Also, find the punishments and penalties allowed under Utah law.

Utah Child Abuse Statutes and Child Abuse Reporting Law - Find child abuse statistics compiled by the Salt Lake County Children’s Justice Center for first degrees, second-degree, third-degree felonies, class A and class B misdemeanors. Find a chart for each offense, the degree of the offense, the Utah code number, a description of the offense and the minimum mandatory sentence. Find information on the statute of limitations for sex crimes in Utah. Learn more about why under Utah law, a child under the age of 14 cannot consent to any sexual activity and other circumstances leading to non-consent referred to in Utah Criminal Code Section 76-5-401 through 406.


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Finding a Lawyer for Sex Abuse Crimes in Utah

If you were charged under Section 76-5-404.1 with sexual abuse of a minor or aggravated sexual abuse of a child, or any other sex crime such as unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, rape, or forcible sexual abuse, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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

Our criminal defense lawyers fight false allegations of sexual abuse of children cases throughout Salt Lake County and the surrounding areas including Davis County, Tooele County, Summit County, Morgan County, Wasatch County, and Utah County.

Let us put our experience to work for you. Call today for a free consultation with a sex crimes lawyer in Salt Lake City.


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