Being charged with any crime is a disruptive, embarrassing, and stressful experience. But when the offense involves a minor, your reputation can be destroyed forever. If you have been charged with enticing a minor in Utah, not only do you face permanent damage to your image and career – you could also be imprisoned, be ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines and restitution, and be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.
The time to get serious about combating the charges is now. If you or a family member is under arrest or investigation for enticement of a minor, protect yourself by retaining a proven, experienced defense attorney in West Jordan. Darwin Overson has more than 16 years of experience representing defendants charged with felony sex crimes involving minors and children, and knows what it takes to handle these complex cases. For a free, confidential legal consultation, call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287, or contact us online. A West Jordan enticing a minor lawyer is available to assist you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What is Enticing a Minor in Utah?
The current state law on enticing a minor, Utah Code § 76-4-401, describes important information about this offense, including how a person commits the crime of enticing a minor, and how the offense is classified, which determines the punishment for enticing a minor.
First, however, it’s important to define the terms “minor” and “text messaging” in the context of this charge. “Minor” refers to anyone under the age of 18, while “text messaging” refers broadly to any form of electronic communication involving text or images, regardless of whether the communication occurred via phone or computer. This might include correspondence via email, chatroom, instant messenger, text message, phone app, social media website, or other methods. The communication might be text-only, or might include images, videos, or other media elements or attachments. Numerous forms of phone- and computer-based communications are covered under the law.
Under the law, a person entices a minor when he or she “knowingly uses the Internet or text messaging to solicit, seduce, [or] lure” a minor into any sort of prohibited sexual contact or activity, such as a situation that would constitute sexual abuse of a minor (Utah Code § 76-5-401.1) or unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old (Utah Code § 76-5-401.2). This applies not only to actual minors, but also to any adult whom the offender thinks is a minor, which brings up an important point: as explicitly stated under Utah Code § 76-4-401(3), it is not a valid legal defense to argue that the “minor” turned out to be an undercover agent or police officer. The victim’s perceived status as a minor is what matters within the definition of the offense.
Charges of enticing a minor may intersect with other criminal charges involving minors, such as child pornography or sexual exploitation of a minor (Utah Code § 76-5b-201).
Is Enticement of a Minor a Felony Charge?
In Utah, crimes are either misdemeanors or felonies. However, classification gets more specific than that. There are three types of misdemeanors (Class A, Class B, and Class C), along with three types of felonies (first degree, second degree, and third degree). Class A is the most serious type of misdemeanor, while first degree is the most serious type of felony. These categories are important, because they determine what sorts of penalties the defendant may face if he or she is convicted.
Enticing a minor is a felony in some cases and a misdemeanor in others, depending on factors like what sort of acts the minor was allegedly being enticed into performing. For example, under Utah Code § 76-4-401(4)(d), enticing a minor “to engage in sexual activity which would be a class A misdemeanor for the actor [i.e. for the defendant] is a class B misdemeanor.” Similar rules apply as follows, determining how each case is treated:
- If the sexual activity would have constituted a Class B misdemeanor, then the offense is a Class C misdemeanor.
- If the sexual activity would have constituted a third degree felony, then the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
- If the sexual activity would have constituted a second degree felony, then the offense is a third degree felony.
- If the sexual activity would have constituted a first degree felony, then the offense is a second degree felony, unless the defendant has certain prior convictions, in which case it is a first degree felony.
Utah Penalties for Enticing a Minor
The penalties for enticement of a minor are severe. Some of the potential penalties which can result from a conviction are discussed below.
Jail Time and Criminal Fines
The sentence for enticing a minor depends on how the offense is graded and other details specific to each individual case. Judges have some flexibility in regard to sentencing, subject to certain limitations. Utah criminal penalties include the following fines and sentences:
- Class C Misdemeanor Penalties
- Maximum Sentence – 90 days in jail
- Maximum Fine – $750 or equivalent service work
- Class B Misdemeanor Penalties
- Maximum Sentence – Six months in jail
- Maximum Fine – $1,000 or equivalent service work
- Class A Misdemeanor Penalties
- Maximum Sentence – Nearly one year in jail (364 days)
- Maximum Fine – $2,500
- Third Degree Felony Penalties
- Maximum Sentence – Five years in prison
- Maximum Fine – $5,000
- Second Degree Felony Penalties
- Maximum Sentence – 15 years in prison
- Maximum Fine – $10,000
- First Degree Felony Penalties
- Maximum Sentence – Life in prison
- Maximum Fine – $10,000
In addition to facing prison time and costly fines, convicted offenders are also required to register as sex offenders.
Our West Jordan Attorneys Can Help if You’ve Been Charged with Enticing a Minor
It is imperative to review your case as soon as possible. The longer you wait to seek legal help, the greater danger you will be exposed to. It is in your own best interests to consult with an experienced defense lawyer right away. For a free legal consultation, contact Overson Law online, or call (801) 758-2287 to speak with an attorney for enticing a minor in West Jordan.