Are you asking yourself what to do if you are accused of rape? Rape is an incredibly serious charge that requires the focused professional guidance of a skilled Utah rape defense attorney.
In Utah, rape is a specific form of sexual assault that involves forcing sexual intercourse upon someone else without their consent. Rape charges are extremely serious. If you are charged with rape or sexual assault, you should consider visiting with the Utah rape defense attorneys at Conyers & Nix, who bring their experience to every case they defend.
The consequences of a rape conviction are far too daunting to delay the start of creating your best defense. While your case will be different from anyone else’s case, there are some basic first steps that apply nearly universally when you are questioning what to do if you are accused of rape. Knowing what they are will help you proceed with greater confidence.
Consider Hiring a Rape Defense Lawyer
The most important first step you can take if you are facing a rape charge is to hire a dedicated Utah rape defense lawyer. Understanding all of your legal options will be easier with an experienced rape defense attorney in your corner. Rape cases are incredibly difficult, and building a successful defense requires a deep and nuanced understanding of the pertinent laws and complicated options within the legal system. Ultimately, they will be the ones to guide you through what to do if you are accused of rape.
Participate in Building Your Solid Defense
After hiring an experienced rape defense attorney, your next stop is helping them build your strongest case. Ultimately, the primary factor in any rape case is the availability of evidence.
Evidence in rape cases can come from many sources, and one common source is communications between both parties. It is in your best interest to save all texts, emails, voice messages, instant messages, messages through social media platforms, and any other communications between you and your accuser. Do not delete anything! Deleting any communication could make your case worse.
Even if you believe the messages reflect poorly on you, it is important to recognize that your attorney will be more successful if they know all of the facts—both good and bad. Because your rape defense attorney is on your side, they need to have all available information to craft your best defense. See our page about attorney-client privilege for further information.
Common Defense Strategies
Although every rape case has different facts and circumstances, some common defense strategies include:
- Challenging the forensic evidence;
- Challenging the legality of the evidence-gathering process and suppressing any evidence that was not gathered in accordance with your rights;
- Challenging the credibility of your accuser;
- Providing a credible alibi; or,
- Asserting that the crime did not occur because all necessary elements of the crime were not present (i.e., there was consent).
An experienced rape defense lawyer will truly be able to guide you in the right direction when determining what to do if you are accused of rape.
What Not to Do
Facing a rape charge can be overwhelming and devastating. However, it is important to note that there are a few things that you should never do, including:
- Do not contact your accuser, which includes not responding to any communication initiated by them.
- Do not post about your case on social media (it is far more likely to hurt than to help).
- Do not talk to friends or family about your case because they can be subpoenaed to testify about what you said. All your conversations with your attorney are protected with the attorney-client privilege.
- Do not do anything the court has instructed you not to do (such as contact your accuser).
Frequently Asked Questions
Your rape case is unique to you and the circumstances involved, but the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions can be helpful.
What is the Difference Between Sexual Assault and Rape?
Rape is a form of sexual assault that involves sexual intercourse without the other person’s consent. Utah codifies many different classifications of sex crimes ranging from object rape to aggravated sexual assault to indecent liberties. Each section has very specific definitions of what qualifies as a sex crime under Utah law. For example, Utah defines “aggravated sexual assault,” which makes illegal to cause serious bodily injury, threaten to cause injury, or aid a person in these acts for the purpose of committing or attempting to commit rape, object rape, forcible sodomy, or forcible sexual abuse.
What is the Age of Consent in Utah?
Utah is one of only 13 states in which the age of consent is 18, which means that anyone under the age of 18 is too young to legally consent to sexual activity with an adult. If the youth is 13 or younger, the charge is considered a crime against a child, but if the youth is 14 or 15 the charge is considered a crime against a minor. If the youth is 16 or 17 (and the act is consensual), the charge is unlawful sexual conduct. There are also crimes which specify whether sexual intercourse between two minors is illegal. Some of these crimes result in felony convictions.
What Are the Consequences of a Rape Conviction in Utah?
The sentencing requirements for various rape convictions include:
- A rape conviction is a first-degree felony that is punishable by five years to life in prison. This can be increased to 15 years to life if the accused caused serious bodily harm, the victim was under the age of 18, or the accused has a prior sex crime conviction. If the prior conviction was a serious sex crime, the penalty can be increased to life without parole.
- A conviction for rape of a child is a first-degree felony that carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. If, during the commission of the crime, someone suffered serious bodily harm or if the accused had a prior sex crime conviction, the sentence can be increased to life without the possibility of parole.
- Object rape, object rape of a child, and forcible sodomy are all first-degree felonies that carry the same sentences that rape charges do.
- Forcible sexual abuse is a second-degree felony that carries a sentence of 1 to 15 years behind bars or from 15 years to life in prison if the accused caused serious bodily harm during the commission of the crime.
- Sexual abuse of a minor is a first-degree felony that carries the same sentence as rape of a minor does.
When the crime involves a weapon, the charge will be defined as “aggravated” which means that your sentencing and punishment will be more severe if found guilty.
Look to an Experienced Utah Rape Defense Lawyer for the Skilled Guidance You Need
The Utah rape defense attorneys at Conyers & Nix understand the urgency of your situation and are committed to help build your most resilient defense. Our rape defense lawyers are former public defenders, which means they have impressive reserves of criminal defense experience and are committed to aggressively advocating for a beneficial case resolution that upholds your rights. We are here to help you determine what to do if you are accused of rape. For more information about how we can help you, please do not hesitate to contact or call today.