Laws Pertaining to Sexting in the State of Utah

In 2009, Utah was one of the first States to pass a law Utahwhere sexting between minors would be classified as a misdemeanor crime rather than a felony and the minor offender would not be required to register as a sex offender.

Legislative Summary

Under Utah’s child pornography laws it is a felony to produce, distribute or possess an image of a minor engaged in a sexually explicit act. Until Utah passed their sexting legislation minors engaging in sexting could have been found guilty of a felony and subject to receiving jail time and registering as a sex offender. In general, Utah amended their child pornography laws so that minors engaging in sexting would not be subject to the felony sentences which were deemed by legislators to be too harsh. In addition, because sexting between minors is considered a misdemeanor any minor charged under the statute would not have to register as a sex offender.

Law and Punishment

In general, Utah’s child pornography laws state:

  • A person is guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor:
  • When the person...
    • Knowingly produces, possesses, or possesses with intent to distribute child pornography; or
    • Intentionally distributes or views child pornography.
  • Sexual exploitation of a minor is a felony of the second degree and punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
  • It is considered a separate offense:
    • For each minor depicted, and if more than one minor is depicted in the child pornography in violation of this section, the depiction of each individual minor in the child pornography is a separate offense; and
    • Each time the same minor is depicted in different child pornography.
  • A person is guilty of dealing in material harmful to minors when, knowing or believing that a person is a minor, or having negligently failed to determine the proper age of a minor, the person intentionally:
  • Each separate offense committed by a person 18 years of age or older is a third degree felony punishable by a minimum mandatory fine of not less than $ 1,000, plus $ 10 for each article exhibited up to the maximum allowed by law; and incarceration, without suspension of sentence, for a term of not less than 14 days.
  • Each separate offense under this section committed by a person 16 or 17 years of age is a class A misdemeanor.
  • Each separate offense under this section committed by a person younger than 16 years of age is a class B misdemeanor.
  • A person 18 years of age or older who knowingly solicits, requests, commands, encourages, or intentionally aids another person younger than 18 years of age to engage in sexually explicit conduct is guilty of a third degree felony and is subject to the penalties described above (for persons above the age of 18).

sobering reality

Misdemeanor offense if under the age of 18.

Disclosure of the crime on job applications and school admissions.

Teenagers 18 or older may face jail time if convicted.

Registration as a sex offender if 18 or older.

Latest News Concerning Sexting in Utah

19 year old arrested on sex offense charges

The Spectrum| July 14, 2011

Sexting is a shadow over teen

The Salt Lake Tribune | May 14, 2011

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