What Are the Penalties for Sexual Assault in Utah?

Sexual assault crimes are taken very seriously in Utah. The legislature has enacted strict laws to ensure that the punishments meted out to offenders reflect the severity of these crimes.

However, being accused of a sexual assault crime can have devastating consequences, impacting an individual’s reputation, relationships, employment opportunities, and overall life trajectory. Fortunately, our team can provide invaluable defense when you need it most. We can help you understand the charges against you, the potential penalties if convicted, and your rights moving forward. We can analyze the evidence presented by the prosecution, identifying any flaws or inconsistencies that could be used to build a robust defense strategy.

Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case evaluation with our Salt Lake City sex crimes defense lawyers.

What Are the Penalties in Utah for Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault in Utah is a broad term that encompasses a range of offenses. The severity of the penalty will depend on how the sexual assault is characterized in a particular case. These definitions can turn on the smallest facts, so it is important to work with our Utah sexual assault defense attorneys as soon as possible to start building a strong defense. The following are definitions for the varying degrees of sexual assault and their penalties in Utah:

Unlawful Sexual Activity

In Utah, engaging in any form of sexual activity with a minor who is 16 or 17 years old is categorically viewed as unlawful, according to Utah Code § 76-5-401. The term “sexual activity” encompasses a broad range of conduct, from physical contact of a sexual nature to explicit sexual acts.

Even if the minor appears to give consent, under Utah law, individuals in this age bracket are not legally capable of providing informed consent to sexual activities. Therefore, any such engagement, regardless of perceived mutual agreement, is strictly forbidden and can result in serious legal repercussions.

The gravity of this act is reflected in its classification as a third-degree felony. For those found guilty of this crime, the potential penalties are significant. They might face imprisonment for a duration of up to five years. Additionally, substantial fines might be levied, further emphasizing the societal disapproval of such conduct and serving as a deterrent against similar behavior in the future.

Forcible Sexual Abuse

Forcible sexual abuse, as defined under Utah Code § 76-5-404, involves the deliberate act of making unwanted contact with the intimate body areas of another individual without their explicit consent. This offense extends beyond mere touching and includes any form of sexual contact that can cause significant physical or emotional distress to the victim. Such acts might encompass a broad range of behaviors, from inappropriate groping to more severe forms of sexual contact.

The gravity of this crime is reflected in its classification as a second-degree felony. The penalties for forcible sexual abuse are severe, serving both as a punishment for the offender and a deterrent for others. Convicted individuals face up to 15 years in prison. The actual sentence can vary based on several factors, including the offender’s criminal history and the case’s specific circumstances.


Rape involves engaging in sexual intercourse with another person without obtaining their clear and explicit consent, according to Utah Code § 76-5-402. This lack of consent might stem from a variety of circumstances, including the victim’s inability to give consent because of factors such as age, mental incapacity, intoxication, or physical helplessness. The crime also encompasses situations where consent is obtained through deceptive, coercive, or threatening means.

Rape is classified as a first-degree felony in Utah, the most severe charge. A first-degree felony is reserved for offenses deemed particularly heinous and destructive to individuals and society.

Those convicted of rape in Utah face severe repercussions. The penalty can extend to life imprisonment. However, the actual sentence imposed can vary based on factors such as the offender’s prior criminal history, the specific circumstances of the offense, and the presence of any aggravating or mitigating factors.

Object Rape

Object rape, as per Utah Code § 76-5-402.2, involves the non-consensual penetration of another person’s genital or anal opening. The act of penetration is carried out using an object or any part of the accused’s body, with the exception of the mouth or genitals. In this context, the term “object” is broad and can encompass anything from a finger to a foreign object.

Like rape, object rape is classified as a first-degree felony in Utah. This places it on par with the most serious crimes recognized by the state’s criminal justice system. This classification underscores the state’s commitment to protecting individuals’ rights to personal safety and bodily autonomy and reflects the severe violation of these rights that object rape represents.

For object rape, the potential sentence can extend to life imprisonment. The sentence given to an offender can differ depending on various factors, including their past criminal record, the particular details of the crime committed, and any aggravating or mitigating factors.

Aggravated Sexual Assault

Aggravated sexual assault, as recognized under Utah Code § 76-5-405, represents the most extreme form of sexual violence in the state’s criminal justice system. This crime not only involves the commission of a sexual assault but escalates the severity through the use of dangerous weapons, infliction of serious bodily harm, or the exertion of force to such an extent that the victim is gripped by fear of imminent death or injury.

The term “dangerous weapon” encompasses any item capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. This could range from firearms and knives to blunt objects or even vehicles, depending on how they are used in the commission of the crime.

“Serious bodily injury” refers to injuries that create a substantial risk of death or which cause serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

The element of force, meanwhile, refers to physical coercion employed by the offender to such a degree that it instills a genuine fear of death or injury in the victim.

As such, aggravated sexual assault is classified as a first-degree felony in Utah. However, this offense carries an even more severe penalty than other first-degree felonies because of its particularly heinous nature. Convicted individuals face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, with the possibility of life imprisonment. This means that, unlike other crimes where the judge has discretion in sentencing, a set minimum term must be served.

Our Utah Sexual Assault Defense Attorneys Can Provide You with the Defense You Deserve

For a free case review, contact our West Jordan sex crimes attorneys at Overson Law, PLLC by calling us at (801) 758-2287.