Sexual assault allegations are very serious and may potentially harm your reputation. If you are facing any sexual assault crime charge, consider consulting with an experienced Utah sexual assault lawyer, such as Jesse Nix and Kate Conyers, at Conyers & Nix to learn more about your legal rights.
What is Sexual Assault in Utah?
Sexual assault is defined as any form of unwanted or coerced – or otherwise forced – sexual contact with another person who does not consent (or who is incapable of providing consent, like a minor). Sexual assault charges in Utah are severe and carry substantial sentences.
What Are Utah Sexual Assault Charges?
Sexual assault charges are wide-ranging, and they focus on all of the following sexually-based acts:
- Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor (e.g., molestation)
- Unwanted Sexual Conduct
- Object Rape
- Forcible Sodomy
Sexual assault, in other words, can take many forms.
Though many of these acts fall under what is considered to be sexual assault, they are divided into many more specific crimes in Utah. For example, you can be charged with Aggravated Sexual Assault which is an increased charge of the more specific sex crimes listed in the Utah code. Aggravated Sexual Assault is typically a secondary charge in the State of Utah, which means the charge is generally tied to another criminal charge (such as the charge of rape). Being convicted of Aggravated Sexual Assault may increase the sentencing consequences. Factors that can elevate the charge to aggravated sexual assault (as a secondary charge) include:
- Seriously injuring or threatening to seriously injure the victim or any other person during the commission of the crime;
- Using a dangerous weapon or threatening to do so in the commission of the alleged crime;
- Threatening to kidnap or kill the person who alleges the crime; and/or
- Being aided or abetted by at least one other person in the commission of the alleged crime.
The age of the accuser and whether the act was a single event or part of an ongoing pattern also plays an important role in the severity of the charges levied and in the seriousness of the sentencing requirements.
How Does Age Affect Sexual Assault Charges in Utah?
Utah joins only 12 other states in drawing the line for consent at 18. As such, sexual assault charges break down in the following ways:
- If the accuser is 13 or younger, the charge involves a “child”.
- If the accuser is 14 or 15, the charge involves a “minor”.
- If the accuser is 16 or 17, the charge of unlawfulness is levied depending a lot on the situation of the accused.
The younger the victim, the more serious the charge and penalties.
Fighting Your Charges: What Are Common Sexual Assault Defenses?
The experienced sexual assault attorneys at Conyers & Nix will explore many defense strategies and options with you by first looking at the facts of your case. Although your case is unique to the circumstances involved, there are several categories of defense strategies that are commonly used including consent, motivation on part of the victim, creating doubt, working with a defense attorney will help.
If the sexual interaction between the two persons was consensual, it is your right to argue this point, and it is the prosecutor’s burden to prove otherwise. Producing non-testimonial evidence that supports a prosecutor’s claim of lack of consent can be very difficult, which can weaken the prosecution’s case. It is important to note that, if the victim in question is a child, consent will play no role in your defense strategy because it is presumed that no consent was given. For additional information, see our FAQ page about consent laws in Utah.
Motivation on the Part of the Victim
An experienced sexual assault attorney will also investigate whether your accuser has any motivation for denying consent and for accusing you of the sexual assault in the first place. For example, if they are attempting to avoid public embarrassment, attempting to exact revenge against you, or coerced by a third party to make the accusation in question, it can serve as a powerful defense.
If you are facing a sexual assault charge, it is important to remember that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. This means that you have the presumption of innocence; it is the prosecutor’s burden to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a significant burden, and a well-prepared and experienced sexual assault attorney knows how to legally create doubt in response to the prosecution’s case.
Working Closely with Your Sexual Assault Attorney
There are many ways to craft a robust defense against a sexual assault charge, and the circumstances of your case will help determine the best path forward. For example, if you have compelling evidence in support of your innocence, the best defense strategy may be asserting your innocence in the matter and backing up the claim with an ironclad alibi and/or other relevant evidence.
If the circumstances of your case are otherwise, however, your sexual assault lawyer will put forth your strongest defense strategy in addition to skillfully negotiating with the prosecution in an effort to drop or reduce the charges you face or to decrease your sentencing consequences.
Look to an Experienced Salt Lake City Sexual Assault Lawyer for Professional Legal Counsel
Sexual assault charges can take many forms; each requires careful legal guidance. If you are facing charges of sexual assault, you should consider consulting with a Utah sexual assault attorney to ensure your legal rights remain protected.
The experienced sexual assault lawyers at Conyers & Nix in Salt Lake City take great pride in skillfully defending the rights of clients like you by crafting well-defined defense strategies that focus on your rights and the individual circumstances of your case. Our founding attorneys hail from public defender backgrounds that inform our unwavering commitment to skillfully advocating for the accused. Contact or call us today for more information about how we can help you.