In Utah, most sex crimes charges require you to register as a sex offender upon conviction. But what if you accept a plea bargain?
Although the differences between conviction and accepting a plea deal are subtle, they are nonetheless significant. The challenging part, if you are facing sex crimes charges, is knowing when to take your chances at trial and when to accept a plea bargain.
Understanding Utah Sex Crimes Statutes
In Utah, sex-related crimes are classified under a variety of offense categories for statutory purposes.
Charges may be brought for sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, solicitation, indecent exposure and related offenses. Today, most of these crimes carry serious penalties, including monetary fines, prison time or both. Probation and registry as a sex offender are also required if you are convicted.
But how does plea bargaining affect these requirements?
The answer to that question varies based on the factors of each case, and may be open to negotiation in many cases. The most important consideration, however, is that accepting a deal means you waive your constitutional right to a trial by jury.
Accepting a Plea Bargain Waives Your Right to a Jury Trial
Prosecutors — in Utah and elsewhere — are under pressure from law enforcement, politicians and society to maintain a high conviction rate for sex crimes charges.
Consequently, it is common for the prosecution to offer some incentive in exchange for a guilty plea. Not only does this assure them of a conviction, but it saves the time and money required for a trial.
You may be presented with the opportunity to plead to a lesser offense, or the prosecutor may agree to drop one or more charges in exchange for your plea. You might also expect to be offered a lighter sentence through a plea bargain; however, Utah statutes do not always offer that option.
Accepting a Sex Crime Plea Bargain May Affect Future Charges
Even if you accept a plea deal that does not require you to serve time or register as a sex offender, it may affect how future offenses are handled.
If you are convicted or plead guilty to another sex crime in the future, having accepted a previous plea bargain can result in automatic minimum prison time and registry as a sex offender. And even if you are not required to serve time behind bars, you can expect to face the scrutiny of your community, friends and family.
Facing a public trial for rape, sexual abuse or similar charges presents a frightening prospect. However, fear of a trial is not necessarily a valid reason for agreeing to a plea bargain, despite what the prosecution team may tell you.
Only you can ultimately decide whether to take your case to trial; however, having an aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney on the case will allow you to make the most informed choice. In the Salt Lake City area, trust the experienced lawyers at theLaw Offices of White & Matern, PLLC.
Dedicated to Utah criminal defense for more than 25 years, we will work tirelessly to build a case that provides you with the best possible options when you’re facing sex crimes charges.