Romeo and Juliet law Utah: In Utah, statutory rape is one of the most common sex crimes, and potentially one of the most devastating ones.
Allegations of improper sexual contact with a minor are frequent, especially when compared to other classes of sex crimes. In some cases, false accusations are purposely made. In many more cases, ignorance of the law leads to statutory rape charges, and conviction frequently follows.
How Utah Statutory Rape Is Defined
Utah’s statutory rape statutes define two categories of this offense: those involving a minor (age 14 or younger) and those involving 15-17-year-olds.
If an adult (anyone 18 or over) has sexual contact with a minor, even if the act was consensual, this qualifies as statutory rape. Minors are presumed under the law to be incapable of making the judgment necessary to give consent.
If an adult has consensual sex with a minor who is 15 or older but not yet 18, it may fall under Utah’s Romeo and Juliet law utah. This part of the law provides an exemption if the adult’s age is within three years of the minor’s age, as long as the act was consensual.
Statutory Rape and Age: The Presumption of Knowledge
Teenagers have lied about their age for generations, whether in an attempt to sneak into an R-rated movie, buy alcohol or get into a bar. Society has instituted safeguards to prevent the negative outcomes that could result from these behaviors, most of which are effective.
When a minor lies about his or her age in pursuit of sexual contact, the onus is on the adult involved to verify age of consent.
In statutory rape cases, the evidence frequently involves a minor’s word against an adult’s word. Even if the accuser has lied about his or her age, this rarely constitutes grounds for avoiding charges. Even if the defendant can establish that a reasonable person would believe the accuser’s represented age, it does not constitute a valid defense in most cases.
How Utah Prosecutes Statutory Rape
Depending on the circumstances of the case, this type of crime is prosecuted as unlawful sexual activity with a minor, minor sexual abuse or unlawful sexual contact. These charges all assume that the activity was consensual.
If coercion, threat, assault or force was involved, it may result in forcible rape charges. If the victim is under 14, the accused will likely face aggravated sexual assault or rape charges.
These charges range in severity from a Class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. Each charge carries significant monetary fines, prison sentences and the obligation to register as a sex offender.
Utah’s court systems have an established reputation of prosecuting this type of crime aggressively. Because the applicable statutes are highly complex, an experienced criminal defense attorney is uniquely qualified to assist you, should you face one or more of these charges.Explore more about Romeo and Juliet law utah.
With offices in St. George, Murray and Salt Lake City, the Law Offices of David Paul White & Associates has an established reputation for rigorous defense. Our attorneys will stand up for you and ensure that your rights are protected. Contact us today if you have been accused — or if you believe you may be charged — with statutory rape in Utah.