Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

In Utah, crimes for the sexual exploitation of a minor child are prosecuted under § 76-5b-201. The statute was previously found in Utah Code section 76-5a-3, which has been amended and renumbered as section 76-5b-201 under the Utah Criminal Code.

The Statute prohibits the sexual exploitation of a minor by knowingly producing, possessing, or possessing with intent to distribute child pornography or by intentionally distributing or viewing child pornography.

Additionally, a parent or legal guardian can be prosecuted if he or she knowingly consented to or permitted the minor to be sexually exploited.

Attorneys for Sexual Exploitation in Salt Lake City, UT

The criminal defense attorneys at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat, LLP represent clients for the following types of crimes prohibited by Utah's Sexual Exploitation Act:

    • Dealing in Material Harmful to a Minor by sending pornography to a minor and sexting;
    • Enticing a Minor over the Internet with the intent of committing sexual acts to the child; and
    • Sexual Exploitation of a Minor through the possession, distribution or manufacturing of child pornography.

Call (801) 532-5297 to discuss your case today.


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Child Exploitation Information Center


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Penalties for Child Pornography Crimes in Utah

The crime of sexual exploitation of a minor is charged as a second-degree felony. 

Separate charges can be filed for each minor depicted in the child pornography and for each time the same minor is depicted in different child pornography.


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Affirmative Defenses to Viewing Child Pornography

It is an affirmative defense to a charge of violating this section that no person under 18 years of age was actually depicted in the visual depiction or used in producing or advertising the visual depiction. Although, in proving a violation of the statute in relation to an identifiable minor, proof of the actual identity of the identifiable minor is not required.

The Utah Legislature amended the Sexual Exploitation Statute in Utah Code § 76–5b–201(6) to expressly exclude liability for law enforcement officers and employees of exempt organizations.

The statute also includes an exemption for others involved in the judicial process who may be required to view child pornography during the course and within the scope of their employment such as judges, court staff, jurors, lawyers (both prosecuting attorneys and criminal defense attorneys).


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How Child Pornography Cases are Investigated in Utah

Many child pornography cases begin with a tip submitted to the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). For cases in Salt Lake City, Utah, a detective with the Salt Lake City Police Department (SLPD) assigned to the Utah ICAC, will be designated as the lead investigator on the case.

The Utah ICAC is a "multi-jurisdictional task force that investigates and prosecutes individuals who use the Internet to exploit children." The ICAC task force has thirty-two local, state, and federal police agency affiliates, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

After the tip, the detective will often secure a warrant to search the suspect’s computers at home or in an office. When examining the computer, the officers will often report finding hundreds of still images of child pornography or child pornography videos.

During the search, the officer will also attempt to interrogate any suspect at the location where the search warrant is being executed.


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Preventing the Online Distribution of Child Pornography Images

Utah's Internet Crimes Against Children task force (ICAC) also attempts to prevent the online distribution of child pornography by searching peer-to-peer- filesharing sharing networks for child pornography being shared among P2P users.

Some of these P2P networks allow users to share digital files directly over the Internet using a secure hash algorithm (SHA–1) encryption method to assign a unique digital signature to each file shared over its network.

Because each digital file has a different SHA–1 value, each of the values can be used to identify a file. Through prior investigations, law enforcement officers have compiled a database of thousands of SHA–1 values that correspond to files containing child pornography. The database and the software that searches for the identified SHA–1 values is known as the Wyoming Toolkit.

The ICAC uses the Wyoming Toolkit to monitor for IP addresses sharing files with suspect SHA–1 values. When the Toolkit flags an IP address sharing a file with an SHA–1 value that matches known child pornography files, law enforcement officers in Salt Lake City, UT, confirm that the suspect file is indeed child pornography.

The confirmation can be made by either downloading and viewing the file directly or by comparing the identified file's SHA–1 value with SHA–1 values of known child pornography contained in databases like the National Child Victim Identification Program.

After confirming that the identified file is child pornography, the law enforcement officers send an administrative subpoena to the applicable internet service provider to obtain the subscription information associated with the identified IP address. Based on this information, law enforcement officers obtain a search warrant for the suspect's home, business, computers, and other electronic devices.


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Additional Resources

Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force - Visit the website of the Office of the Attorney General to learn more about ICAC, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force which was created in 2000. With 32 affiliates including local, state and federal police agencies involved in the task force, Utah's ICAC has more than 80 police officers in Utah on the task force.


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