Unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old is a sex crime which can potentially result in a felony record. If you are convicted, you will also be forced to register as a sex offender for no less than 10 years. The bottom line is that a conviction of this offense can destroy the rest of your future. You need to protect yourself with an aggressive, experienced Utah sex crimes defense lawyer.
Contact Our Salt Lake Unlawful Sexual Conduct Lawyers for a Free Consultation
It is never easy to be charged with a crime, but a sex crime allegation carries extra challenges for the accused. Suspects are sometimes mistrusted and abandoned by the people closest to them, shunned and ostracized at a time when they need support more than ever before.
Our stance is that you are innocent until proven guilty. You can depend on Salt Lake criminal attorney Darwin Overson to treat you with dignity and respect while assessing your case and evaluating the strategies that could be raised in your defense. Darwin has been handling complex felony sex crime charges in Utah for more than 16 years, and has repeatedly obtained favorable outcomes for defendants who were facing extremely serious consequences. You’re going through a very difficult time right now, but you can count on Darwin to stand firmly by your side in the fight to preserve your freedoms.
Call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 today to set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation with Darwin. If your loved one in is in custody, ask about scheduling an attorney visit to the county jail or holding center where he or she is being detained. Darwin represents defendants in Salt Lake County, Wasatch County, Summit County, Weber County, Davis County, Morgan County, Tooele County, and throughout the state of Utah.
What Must the Prosecutor Prove for the Jury to Convict the Defendant?
In order for a defendant to be convicted of committing unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old, the prosecutor must prove the following elements of the offense, outlined at Utah Code § 76-5-401.2:
- The victim was 16 or 17 years old at the time of the offense.
- The defendant was either:
- The victim’s teacher, parent, babysitter, coach, or other person in a position of trust and authority.
- At least seven years older than the victim at the time of the offense.
- The defendant knew or should have known the victim’s age.
- The defendant engaged in sexual conduct with the victim, meaning:
- Sexual intercourse.
- Any sex act “involving the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person.”
- Any penetration of the victim’s genitals or anus, or touching the victim’s breasts, anus, genitals, or buttocks “with the intent to cause… pain to any person or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.”
The prosecutor must be able to prove all of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, which is defined by Utah’s juror instructions as “proof that leaves [a juror] firmly convinced of the defendant’s guilt.” The instructions add that if a juror “think[s] there is a real possibility that [the defendant] is not guilty, [the juror] must give [the defendant] the benefit of the doubt and find [the defendant] not guilty.”
Furthermore, the jury must come to a unanimous conclusion, meaning every single juror agrees that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If even one juror disagrees with his or her peers, the result is a “hung jury” and mistrial, and the defendant may receive a new trial. Additionally, the court must find probable cause to believe the defendant could have committed the crime being alleged. If no probable cause is found, the case must be dismissed.
Utah Criminal Penalties for Misdemeanor and Felony Sex Offenses
Like most states, Utah classifies criminal offenses as either misdemeanors or felonies. Though felonies have harsher penalties, misdemeanors are also capable of resulting in steep fines, months in jail, and a criminal record.
Misdemeanors and felonies both have three sub-groups: Class A, Class B, and Class C for misdemeanors, and third degree, second degree, and first degree for felonies. Class A misdemeanors and first degree felonies are the most serious charges in their respective groups of offenses.
Unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old can be charged as a third degree felony or a Class A misdemeanor, depending on the specific details of the alleged incident. It may be possible to have felony charges reduced to a misdemeanor. If the defendant is convicted, he or she will face the following penalties:
- Class A Misdemeanor
- Maximum Fine – $2,500
- Maximum Sentence – 1 year in jail
- Third Degree Felony
- Maximum Fine – $5,000
- Maximum Sentence – 5 years in prison
In addition to being incarcerated and heavily fined, the defendant will also be required to register as a sex offender for a period of 10 years. For the entire 10-year period:
- You will be required to regularly re-register. Failure to re-register or keep your information current can lead to additional criminal charges.
- Your name, photo, address, workplace, license plate, and conviction will be publicly posted on the internet.
- You may have problems finding work, or even places to live. Unfortunately, employers and landlords often find excuses to exclude people who are otherwise protected by anti-discrimination laws.
If you were arrested for unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year old in Utah, you need highly experienced legal representation on your side as soon as possible. Call Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson at (801) 758-2287 to arrange a free, completely confidential legal consultation. Darwin is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to make county jail visits.