What is Sexual Abuse of a Child?
Utah distinguishes between a “child” and a “minor” for purposes of many sexual crimes. For example, when it comes to the unlawful touching of an individual under 18 years old the law distinguishes between a 16 and 17 years old, a minor who is an individual 14 or 15 years old, and a “child” who is 13 years or younger. Thus, we have sexual abuse of a minor and sexual abuse of a child.
Sexual abuse of a child involves the same elements as sexual abuse of a minor except it involves the touching of a child 13 years of age or younger. Specifically, the an individual commits sexual abuse of a child when he touches the anus, buttocks, breasts of a female, pubic area, or the genital areas of any child, whether under the clothes or over the clothes, with the intent to arouse the sexual desires of any person or with the intent to cause substantial bodily pain to any individual. Additionally, the act of touching cannot constitute another crime of more severe gravity such as rape of a child, object rape of a child, or sodomy on a child. The crime is a second degree felony and carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
This crime is codified in Utah Code 76-5-404.1.
When does it become aggravated?
A defining difference between sexual abuse of a child and that of a minor is the fact that one can commit aggravated sexual abuse of a child. The crime becomes aggravated when any number of other factors applies. For example,
- Using a dangerous weapon or force;
- The victim was physically or severely psychologically injured during the act;
- The defendant was a complete stranger OR befriended the victim solely to commit the crime;
- The defendant showed the victim pornography during the act;
- The defendant photographed the victim during the act;
- This isn’t the first time he committed the crime;
- There was more than one victim;
- The defendant did it five times to the same victim either on separate occasions or during the same episode;
- The defendant was in a position of special trust to the victim;
- The child was prostituted by the defendant;
- The defendant penetrated, no matter how slight, the child’s vagina or anus with something other than his mouth or genitals.
The most common form of aggravated sexual abuse of a child is when the defendant is in a position of special trust with the victim. Such a position of trust is determined by whether the individual is a parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, coach, doctor, employer, babysitter, aunt, uncle, scout leader, religious leader, and other similar capacities.
When it is aggravated, it becomes a first degree felony and carries with it a minimum of 6 years in prison and up to life in prison without parole.
Our attorneys are some of the most experienced in Utah in defending individuals against such crimes and in getting not guilty verdicts at trial. Contact us if you’re facing such serious charges.