What are the Penalties for Rape in Utah?

Rape is an extremely serious offense in every state. Utah’s laws are very traditional regarding sex crimes and other “taboo” subjects, and so there are very strict penalties for these crimes. If you have been charged with rape, or think you may be charged, it is vital to take your case to a Utah criminal defense lawyer. Salt Lake City sex crimes defense attorney Darwin Overson offers free consultations on criminal cases.

Rape Crimes in Utah

Utah has multiple sexual offenses, many of which are commonly considered “rape” crimes. Even though these names may vary, it is important to understand that these crimes are still incredibly serious offenses. Even if the name of the crime itself does not explicitly include the word “rape,” many of these offenses still cover the same illegal actions.

First is the crime of rape itself. Rape under Utah Code § 76-5-402 covers any vaginal sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent. This crime can even be committed against one’s spouse, and does not require any violence or force; the mere lack of consent is enough to convict someone for this crime.

Rape committed against a child under 14 is punished under a separate statute (§ 76-5-402.1). There is also a crime (under § 76-5-402.2) for “object rape,” where one uses an object rather than their body to penetrate the victim without their consent, which is again charged under another statute when the victim is a child.

Forcible sodomy is a rape crime committed by anal-to-genital or mouth-to-genital contact without the victim’s consent, rather than vaginal intercourse. This crime is punished under § 76-5-403 if the victim is an adult, and subsection 403.1 if the victim is a child. This crime, despite its name, does not actually require “force,” and the mere lack of consent is enough.

Any other touching of sexual body parts that does not qualify under these crimes is treated under § 76-5-404 – forcible sexual abuse. This has a separate statute for child victims, under subsection 404.1 – sexual abuse of a child.

Keep in mind that many of these crimes can also be charged as criminal attempt if the acts are interrupted or the victim defends themselves. Crimes like attempted rape or attempted sodomy are punished just as harshly as the completed offense. Some attempted crimes may also constitute fully completed, lesser crimes. For instance, an attempted rape may also double as a completed forcible sexual assault.

There is also a separate crime if any of these crimes are committed with additional violence or coercion. This crime of “aggravated sexual assault” under § 76-5-405 includes crimes committed by threats of weapon use, kidnapping, death, serious bodily injury, or crimes committed with help from another individual. It also includes crimes where the victim suffers injury.

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Sentencing Guidelines for Rape and Sexual Assault in Utah

These crimes carry varying penalties depending on the particular offense committed and the seriousness of the conduct involved. There may also be other factors to consider during sentencing, such as whether this is the defendant’s first crime, first sex crime, whether the defendant was on probation or parole when they committed the crime, and other factors. However, the baseline penalties for these crimes are included in the individual statutes:

  • Rape is a first degree felony punished by 5 years to life, but is upgraded to 15 to life if the actor caused serious bodily injury, or was under 18 and has prior sex crime convictions. The offense is upgraded to life without parole if the actor has a prior record of serious sex crime.
  • Rape of a child is a first degree felony punished by 25 years to life. If the actor caused serious bodily injury or had a prior conviction for a serious sex crime, it is upgraded to life without parole.
  • Object rape and object rape of a child are first degree felonies, and carry the same penalties as the non-object versions of the crimes.
  • Forcible sodomy is a first degree crime. Since the acts involved in forcible sodomy are identical to the acts in a rape crime, but merely involve a different combination of body parts, this crime has the same penalties as rape. The same is true for the version of this crime committed against a child.
  • Forcible sexual abuse is a lower crime than the rest. This is a second degree felony, punished by 1-15 years in prison. If the actor caused serious bodily injury during the offense, the crime becomes a first degree crime punished by 15 years to life imprisonment.
  • Sexual abuse of a minor is automatically a first degree crime, punished with the same penalties as rape.
  • The penalties for aggravated sexual assault work, generally, to increase the minimum prison sentence for each of the above crimes. If the aggravated sexual assault was committed by an actor with a prior conviction, the crime is punished with life without parole.

There may be alternative sentencing schemes under Utah law which could save you from years in prison. However, you should always consult an attorney for serious crimes, and advice on how your sentence may be reduced. For a free consultation on your case, contact Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson Law today at (801) 758-2287.