Sexual exploitation of a minor, which relates to child pornography, is a serious criminal offense which can lead to prison time, debilitating criminal fines, and other penalties. A conviction will also result in the creation of a criminal record, which can damage your career and hinder your goals for many years to come. However, the most devastating penalty of all may be the requirement to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.
If you have been accused of sexually exploiting a minor in Utah, or if one of your loved ones was recently arrested for this offense, there is no time to waste building your case. Prosecutors are extremely aggressive when it comes to suspected sex offenders, so you need to make sure that your rights will be protected by a skilled, compassionate, and knowledgeable defense attorney. Call the law offices of Overson Law immediately at (801) 758-2287 for a free legal consultation. Your information will be kept confidential.
How is Sexual Exploitation of a Minor Defined Under Utah Code 76-5b-201?
Sexual exploitation of a minor is a criminal act under Utah Code § 76-5b-201, which is part of Utah’s Sexual Exploitation Act. This statute supplies the legal definition of the offense. A person commits sexual exploitation of a minor when he or she does either of the following:
- Intentionally makes or possesses child pornography, or possesses child pornography with intent to distribute the materials to others.
- Intentionally looks at or distributes child pornography.
It is also sexual exploitation of a minor for a child’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) to allow or consent to the child being involved in the production, possession, or distribution of child pornography.
It is an element of the offense that the defendant acted knowingly and intentionally. The prosecutor must prove this to be true, beyond a reasonable doubt, in order for you to be convicted under Utah Code § 76-5b-201. It may be a defense to the charges that you accidentally clicked a link to a child pornography website, or accidentally opened a file containing child pornography, because you thought it contained different content. For example, you may have been looking for a song or television show when you clicked on a link with a misleading name.
Furthermore, it is an affirmative defense under Utah Code § 76-5b-201(4) that no one under the age of 18 was depicted in the material, or was used to advertise or promote the material. It is also not a crime for a person to view child pornography if the person was performing a legitimate job duty, such as a police officer or criminal investigator.
Utah Child Pornography Penalties: Fines, Prison, and Sex Offender Registration
Every crime in Utah is either a misdemeanor or a felony. Though both can lead to incarceration, fines, and other consequences, felonies are more serious and have greater repercussions. For example, if you are convicted of a felony in Utah, you will become a “Category II restricted person” and will be banned from buying, owning, or using a gun under penalty of fines and potential incarceration.
Sexual exploitation of a minor is always prosecuted as a felony offense, never a misdemeanor. There are several different types of felonies in Utah: third degree felonies, second degree felonies, and first degree felonies. Sexual exploitation of a minor is a second degree felony, which is the second most serious type of non-capital crime a person can be convicted of. The penalties for a felony of the second degree in Utah may include:
- A fine of up to $10,000
- A prison sentence of up to 15 years in prison
In addition to being fined and incarcerated, you will also be required to register as a sex offender. You must remain on the register for the rest of your life, which means you will be required to regularly update your information with the Utah Department of Corrections. Your picture will be published in the registry alongside detailed personal information about where you live, where you work, and what kind of car you drive. If you do not register, or if you fail to update your information as required, you can be criminally prosecuted.
Contact an Experienced Salt Lake City Sex Crimes Defense Attorney
If you or one of your family members was accused of sexual exploitation of a minor, skilled and effective legal representation is absolutely essential to preserve your reputation, protect your rights as a defendant, and aggressively fight the charges against you. Sex crimes lawyer Darwin Overson has more than 16 years of experience handling these complex, high-stakes, emotionally-charged cases.
Darwin Overson represents defendants charged with child pornography possession and distribution throughout the state of Utah, including but not limited to Salt Lake County, Wasatch County, Summit County, Tooele County, Davis County, Weber County, Morgan County, Box Elder County, and Duchesne County. To set up a free, completely confidential legal consultation, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 758-2287.