Sexual assault is a very serious offense, but there are multiple ways in which a defendant can be charged with the crime. Forcible sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault are often conflated but are two different offenses.
Forcible sexual assault is a sexual offense in which the defendant allegedly touches the private parts of another without consent with the intent to cause pain or for sexual gratification. Aggravated sexual assault occurs when a sexual offense turns violent or even deadly. These crimes are somewhat different, but the penalties for each are both very serious. Defending yourself against these charges will also require unique approaches because the evidence involved is often completely different.
Charges for forcible sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault may lead to significant consequences, and our Ogden assault defense lawyers can help you clear your name. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case review.
The Difference Between Forcible Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault in Utah
The crime of forcible sexual assault, also called forcible sexual abuse, can be found under Utah Code § 76-5-404(1). A person may be guilty of this offense if they touch the anus, buttocks, privates, or genitals of another without consent and with the intent to cause harm or gain sexual gratification. The alleged victim must be at least 14 years old for the defendant to be charged. Any touching that may be considered rape, object rape, or forcible sodomy is not included under forcible sexual assault.
Aggravated sexual assault is defined under Utah Code § 76-5-405(1). Under this law, aggravated sexual assault includes using or threatening to use a weapon against a victim during a rape, object rape, forcible sodomy, or forcible sexual abuse. It may also involve compelling the victim to submit to the offense by threatening death or serious harm. A person may also be charged if they are aided in their offense but other people.
If you are charged with one or both of these offenses, our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers can help you understand the nature of the charges and potential penalties. While both offenses involve assault, they are very different in terms of how they are charged and how defendants might be punished.
Penalties for Forcible Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault in Utah
The penalties for these two offenses are somewhat similar as both may be charged as very serious felonies. However, mandatory minimum sentencing regulations for each may differ. For forcible sexual assault, a defendant can be charged with a second-degree felony punishable by at least 1 year and no more than 15 years in state prison. The charges can be upgraded to first-degree felonies, punishable by at least 15 years in prison and up to life if the defendant caused the victim serious bodily harm. The law also states that these prison terms are mandatory and cannot be reduced. Not only that, but a convicted defendant may have to register as a sex offender.
For aggravated sexual assault, a defendant may be charged with a first-degree felony punishable by at least 15 years in prison and up to life. The sentence might be life without parole in certain cases, such as when the defendant has previous convictions for sex offenses.
Suppose the aggravated sexual assault is related to an attempt rather than a completed act. In that case, the penalties may include at least 10 years to life in prison or life without parole if the defendant has a history of sexual offenses. If the underlying offense is forcible sexual abuse, the defendant may be sentenced to at least 6 years to life in prison or life without parole if the defendant has prior sex offense convictions.
Remember that these potential sentences are only possibilities. The exact sentence possible in your specific case might be somewhat different and fall somewhere in between the minimum and maximum penalties. Our Sandy criminal defense attorneys can help you determine what will happen in your case.
Fighting Charges for Aggravated and Forcible Sexual Assault in Utah
There is no single way to defend yourself against criminal charges. Our St. George criminal defense attorneys can go over your case with you to develop a defense strategy tailored to your case and unique needs. Forcible sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault are very different charges requiring different defense approaches.
For aggravated sexual assault, there may be numerous aspects of the alleged offense you can challenge. For example, prosecutors might insist that a dangerous weapon was used when really there was no dangerous weapon present. We can also argue whether the harm allegedly inflicted was “serious bodily harm” warranting the charges. Lastly, many defendants argue that they believed they had consent and that the victim is being dishonest or remembers the events incorrectly. If this sounds like your case, you should speak to an attorney immediately.
For forcible sexual assault, we can similarly argue that there was no serious bodily injury to the alleged victim, thus keeping the charges from being upgraded. We might also argue that you did not have the requisite intent for the charges. To be charged, you must intend to do harm or obtain sexual gratification without consent. If you believed you had consent or did not intend to do harm, the charges should be dropped.
Evidence in Aggravated and Forcible Sexual Assault Cases in Utah
The evidence in these cases may differ depending on how the offenses allegedly occurred. Our Riverton criminal defense lawyers can review the evidence in your case and determine the best way to mount our defense tactics. Physical evidence, witnesses statements, videos, photos, and more should all be heavily scrutinized.
In forcible sexual assault cases, the evidence will likely revolve around the sexual aspect of the crime. Prosecutors might focus on your relationship with the alleged victim to support their allegations of a sexual offense. The evidence must also strongly support a lack of consent. We can undermine this evidence by showing that you had consent or that your actions did not meet the statutory requirements for the charges.
For cases of aggravated sexual assault, the evidence tends to center on how the assault happened and how bad the victim’s injuries were. For example, evidence of a weapon can be suppressed if the police do not obtain the evidence legally. Without evidence of a weapon, the charges may be downgraded to a lesser sex offense.
Call Our Utah Assault Defense Attorneys
If you are facing any kind of assault charges, our Park City criminal defense attorneys can help you fight the charges and get your life back. For a free case review, call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287.