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Sexual Abuse of a Child

Utah Code Section: 76-5-404.1



76-5-404.1.  Sexual abuse of a child -- Aggravated sexual abuse of a child. 

(1)As used in this section:

(a)"Adult" means an individual 18 years of age or older.

(b)"Child" means an individual under the age of 14.

(2)An individual commits sexual abuse of a child if, under circumstances not amounting to rape of a child, object rape of a child, sodomy on a child, or an attempt to commit any of these offenses, the actor touches the anus, buttocks, pubic area, or genitalia of any child, the breast of a female child, or otherwise takes indecent liberties with a child, with intent to cause substantial emotional or bodily pain to any individual or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any individual regardless of the sex of any participant.

(3)Sexual abuse of a child is a second degree felony.


(4)An individual commits aggravated sexual abuse of a child when in conjunction with the offense described in Subsection (2) any of the following circumstances have been charged and admitted or found true in the action for the offense:

(a)the offense was committed by the use of a dangerous weapon as defined in Section 76-1-601, or by force, duress, violence, intimidation, coercion, menace, or threat of harm, or was committed during the course of a kidnapping;

(b)the accused caused bodily injury or severe psychological injury to the victim during or as a result of the offense;

(c)the accused was a stranger to the victim or made friends with the victim for the purpose of committing the offense;

(d)the accused used, showed, or displayed pornography or caused the victim to be photographed in a lewd condition during the course of the offense;

(e)the accused, prior to sentencing for this offense, was previously convicted of any sexual offense;

(f)the accused committed the same or similar sexual act upon two or more victims at the same time or during the same course of conduct;

(g)the accused committed, in Utah or elsewhere, more than five separate acts, which if committed in Utah would constitute an offense described in this chapter, and were committed at the same time, or during the same course of conduct, or before or after the instant offense;

(h)the offense was committed by an individual who occupied a position of special trust in relation to the victim;

(i)the accused encouraged, aided, allowed, or benefitted from acts of prostitution or sexual acts by the victim with any other individual, or sexual performance by the victim before any other individual, human trafficking, or human smuggling; or

(j)the accused caused the penetration, however slight, of the genital or anal opening of the child by any part or parts of the human body other than the genitals or mouth.



Defenses to Sexual Abuse of a Child Charges

As with most sexual abuse of a child cases, the jury will be required to make a credibility judgment between the child and the defendant.  Whether the child has been coached, pressured by an estranged spouse or family member with a motive against the defendant, whether the child has the mental capacity to understand right from wrong, accurately remember events, and distinguish reality from fiction all play a role at the time of trial.  ​

Children are typically interviewed at Children Justice Centers by persons who have received training in forensic interviews with children.  However, this is not to say that the interviews are always done correctly.  An incorrect interview, a suggestion of an answer, or use of words that might improperly influence a child all occur at the forensic interview.  

Mistake of Age No Defense

76-2-304.5.  Mistake as to victim's age not a defense

(1)It is not a defense to the crime of sexual abuse of a child, a violation of Section 76-5-402.1; or an attempt to commit sexual abuse of a child, that the actor mistakenly believed the victim to be 14 years of age or older at the time of the alleged offense or was unaware of the victim's true age.

Sex Offender Registration


Persons convicted of sexual abuse of a child are required to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives. There is no possibility of removal from the register, and if the person moves states, the person is required to register in their new state.


UCA 77-41-106.

Jail/Prison time, fines & restitution

Sexual abuse of a child is punishable by an indeterminate prison term of 1-15 years in the Utah State Prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Aggravated sexual abuse of a child is a first degree felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of:

(a)except as provided in Subsection (5)(b)(5)(c), or (6), not less than 15 years and which may be for life;

(b)except as provided in Subsection (5)(c) or (6), life without parole, if the trier of fact finds that during the course of the commission of the aggravated sexual abuse of a child the defendant caused serious bodily injury to another; or

(c)life without parole, if the trier of fact finds that at the time of the commission of the aggravated sexual abuse of a child, the defendant was previously convicted of a grievous sexual offense.

(6)If, when imposing a sentence under Subsection (5)(a) or (b), a court finds that a lesser term than the term described in Subsection (5)(a) or (b) is in the interests of justice and states the reasons for this finding on the record, the court may impose a term of imprisonment of not less than:

(a)for purposes of Subsection (5)(b), 15 years and which may be for life; or

(b)for purposes of Subsection (5)(a) or (b):

(i)10 years and which may be for life; or

(ii)six years and which may be for life.



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