Sexual assault is a serious crime in Utah, as well as every other state in the United States. The crime involves unwanted sexual contact and can often refer to conduct ranging from unwanted touching and feeling to rape. While every person is innocent until proven guilty under the law, people accused of sexual assault are frequently found guilty in the “court of public opinion” well before any actual trial takes place. For that reason, false allegations of sexual assault should be taken incredibly seriously, as they are very damaging to people’s reputations.
In Utah, there are several ways that you can defend against a false allegation of sexual assault. Some of the most common defenses include evidence that there was consent and evidence that the alleged sexual encounter did not take place. While you wait for the legal process to take its course, it is best to let our lawyers handle the case and not try to rectify things yourself.
If you need help with your case, call our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers from Overson Law by dialing (801) 758-2287 and get a free, totally confidential case review.
Sexual Assault Crimes in Utah
Sexual assault can refer to many different crimes ranging from harassment to rape. However, the common definition of sexual assault generally includes any sexual touching that is not consented to by both parties. In Utah, there are two crimes that fit that bill the best: sexual battery and aggravated sexual assault.
The crime of sexual battery is detailed in Utah Code § 76-9-702.1. Sexual battery is when an individual, without the other person’s consent, touches their anus, buttocks, genitals, or breasts, or any other sexual area without the other person’s consent. The statute does not differentiate between whether or not this touching is through clothing or not. This conduct must not rise to the level of a number of different crimes, including rape, forcible sodomy, or aggravated sexual assault since those are all more serious crimes than sexual battery.
While sexual battery does not cover all of the conduct that can be considered “sexual assault,” it is a broad crime that covers a lot of conduct you could be charged for. However, our Utah sexual assault defense attorneys can help with charges for any of these offenses.
Aggravated Sexual Assault
Aggravated sexual assault is criminalized by Utah Code § 76-5-405. Utah law defines aggravated sexual assault as encompassing a number of different kinds of conduct. The most straightforward form of aggravated sexual assault is when the perpetrator, during the commission of rape, forcible sodomy, or forcible sexual abuse, threatens the victim with a dangerous weapon or, alternatively, uses a dangerous weapon to compel the victim to do any of those sexual acts. It is also aggravated sexual assault if the perpetrator causes serious bodily injury during any of the aforementioned acts.
Aggravated sexual assault, while still under the umbrella of “sexual assault,” is a significantly more serious crime. Sexual battery is a misdemeanor under most circumstances, but aggravated sexual assault is a first-degree felony, carrying with it the possibility of a life sentence without parole.
Sexual Assault Defenses in Utah
There are several defenses that you can raise if you are charged with sexual assault in Utah. The two main defenses most commonly raised in sexual assault cases are consent and evidence that the encounter did not happen.
Consent is an affirmative defense to sexual assault allegations. An affirmative defense is essentially an admission that the conduct took place, but you have a defense that makes it not a crime. In this instance, sexual assault requires a lack of consent, so strong evidence that there was consent means that a sexual assault conviction cannot happen.
Did Not Occur
Another way to defeat a sexual assault allegation is to prove that the alleged encounter never happened. For example, if someone alleges you sexually assaulted them in Utah on a week when you were on vacation in Europe, evidence supporting that fact can be used to bolster your case.
Important Steps When Falsely Accused of Sexual Assault in Utah
There are some critical things you should do, and perhaps more importantly not do, when falsely accused of sexual assault in Utah. Our lawyers have compiled some of the most helpful steps you can take in this difficult situation while you wait for justice to be appropriately carried out.
Avoid Discussing the Situation
Perhaps the most important thing to do when awaiting a sexual assault trial is to not discuss the case, except with our lawyers and possibly other parties related to the matter. This can be a very difficult thing to do. You may wish to try and clarify things with family and friends. You may want to call people or post on social media to assure people you know that you are innocent and that these allegations are false. However, discussing a case in progress and posting about it on social media can have a shockingly detrimental effect on the success of your case. First, even statements with the best intentions can be taken the wrong way, so your personal situation may get worse when you are trying to make it better. Second, the prosecution can use those posts and other discussions about the case as evidence against you, and it is entirely possible that something from those posts and discussions could significantly strengthen the case of the prosecution.
On the other hand, anything that already exists regarding the alleged sexual assault should be handed over to our lawyers so that it can be examined and potentially help your case. This includes text messages, recorded conversations, and anything else that can help to support your defense that the accusations are false.
Contact Our Lawyers
It is incredibly important that you get legal counsel right away when falsely accused of sexual assault. The sooner our lawyers can start working on your case, the better.
Call Our Utah Sexual Assault Defense Lawyers Today
Overson Law’s Sandy, UT criminal defense lawyers can provide free, confidential case reviews when you call us at (801) 758-2287.