Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child

A sexual abuse of a child charge can be raised to a first-degree felony aggravated sexual abuse of a child charge if certain factors are present in the case.

Being in a “position of trust” with the alleged victim or the presence of other aggravating circumstances can lead to mandatory prison sentences and the requirement of registering as a sex offender in Utah for life.

If you are facing these charges, it is imperative to seek out a skilled and dedicated lawyer who can provide you with focused representation while protecting your freedom.


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Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child Attorney in Salt Lake City, Utah

Susanne Gustin is a trial lawyer with more than 24 years of criminal defense experience. If you’re in need of a sex crimes attorney in Salt Lake City, then contact her to see your legal options. She can asssess your case and determine the best possible defense plan to ensure you have reduced or dismissed charges.

If you have questions regarding charges of sexual abuse of a child, call Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law at (801) 243-2814. Susanne Gustin is an experienced sexual abuse attorney who will work with you to build a solid defense to the prosecution’s claims. Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law accepts clients in Salt Lake City and the greater Salt Lake County and Davis County area including West Valley City, Sandy, West Jordan, South Jordan, Midvale, Riverton, Taylorsville and Herriman. 


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Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child Information Center


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What is Classified as Sexual Abuse of a Child in Utah?

In Utah, sexual abuse of a child is a serious crime that can result in lifelong penalties. The offense can be found under the Utah Code § 76-5-404.1 and § 76-5-407 and involves sexual contact with a minor. To convict a person of sexual abuse of a child, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements to the jury.

  • The defendant intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly:
    • Touched a minor’s breast, even if it’s through clothing;
    • Touched the buttocks, genital, or anus of a minor, even through clothing;
    • Took indecent liberties with a minor; or
    • Cause a minor to take indecent liberties with a person; and
  • The defendant committed one of the actions above with the intent to:
    • Arouse or gratify the sexual desire of a person; or
    • Inflict substantial bodily or emotional pain to any person

Under the Utah code, a person is considered a minor if they are under the age of 14 years old at the time of the crime. If certain factors are proven to be true in court, then the defendant may have their charge enhanced to aggravated sexual abuse of a child.

Sexual abuse of a child is a second-degree felony, which is punishable by:

  • A prison term of at least one year, but no more than 15 years; and
  • A possible fine of up to $10,000

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Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child Under the Utah Criminal Code

The crime of sexual abuse of a child may be enhanced if the prosecution presents proof certain aggravating factors were included in the crime. The elements for aggravated sexual abuse of a child can be found under the Utah Code Section 76-5-404.1 and 76-5-407.

  • Charges for sexual abuse of a child may be enhanced to aggravated sexual abuse of a child if one of the following elements are proven true:
    • Knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally using a dangerous weapon or using force, violence, intimidation, menace, coercion, or threat of harm;
    • Committed sexual abuse of a child during the commission of a kidnapping;
    • Knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally cause bodily injury or severe psychological injury to a minor during or as a result of the crime;
    • Was a stranger to the minor beforehand or made contact with the minor for the purpose of committing the offense;
    • Knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally used or showed pornography or caused the minor to be photographed in lewd conditions during the course of the crime;
    • The defendant was convicted of a sexual offense prior to the crime;
    • The defendant committed a similar sexual act upon two or more victims simultaneously or during the same course of conduct;
    • The defendant has already committed six or more separate acts that would each be classified as a sexually motivated offense;
    • The defendant was in a position of trust in relation to the minor;
    • Knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally aided, encouraged, allowed, or benefitted from acts of prostitution or sexual acts by a minor with any person;
    • Knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally forcing the alleged victim to be the cneter of a sexual performance before any other person, human trafficking or smuggling scheme; or
    • Knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly penetrated the minor’s genital or anal opening with any part of the human body other than the genitals or mouth

The Utah Code defines a person in a “position of trust” as one of the following persons in relation to the child: 

  • Adoptive parents;
  • Aunts;
  • Coaches;
  • Counselors;
  • Employers;
  • Grandparents;
  • Legal guardians;
  • A recreational leader who is over 18 years old;
  • Adult siblings or stepsiblings
  • Stepparents;
  • Instructor, professor, or teaching assistants;
  • Adult youth leaders;
  • Athletic managers;
  • Babysitters;
  • Adult cohabitant of the alleged victim’s parents;
  • Doctors or physicians;  
  • Foster parents;
  • Natural parents;
  • Religious leaders;
  • Adult scout leaders
  • Teachers or any person employed or volunteering at a public or private elementary or secondary school who is at least 18 years old;
  • Uncles; or
  • Any person in a position of authority other than those listed above

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Penalty for Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child in Utah

The penalties for aggravated sexual abuse of a child are incredibly severe since the crime involves minors who have suffered both emotionally and physically. In Utah, aggravated sexual abuse of a child is a first-degree felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of:

  • A minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison; and
  • A possible fine of up to $10,000 

However, the court will enhance the prison sentence for aggravated sexual abuse of a child to life without parole if one of the following are proven true by a trier of fact.

  • The defendant caused seriously bodily injury to another during the commission of the aggravated sexual abuse of a child; or
  • The defendant was previously convicted of a grievous sexual offense 

Additionally, the offender will be required to register as a sex offender as a condition to their sentencing. The offender must fulfill two mandatory registrations a year and notify law enforcement whenever they change their address, employer, or leave the county. They will be required to register as a sex offender in the state of Utah for 10 years after they’ve served their sentence for the crime.


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What Are the Signs of a Child Being Sexually Abused?

It can be difficult to spot the signs of child sexual abuse as minors may not have the tools to express what they’ve experienced. Some signs can be easier to spot than other and some age groups are better at communicating than others. However, all children display some signs of distress if they’re experiencing sexual abuse. 

Some common warning signs for sexual abuse in child could be:

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Trauma in the genital area such as bruising, bleeding, or blood on clothing
  • Excessive knowledge or talk on sexual topics
  • Change in mood or personality, especially increased aggression/frustration
  • Secretive behavior and not being as open as before
  • Excessive worry or fearfulness
  • Fear of being left alone or being away from their primary caregivers, especially if they’ve never shown fear of strangers before
  • Excessive worry or fearfulness
  • Resuming or regressive behaviors the child grew out of a while ago such as wetting the bed or sucking their thumb
  • Self-harming
  • Being incredibly compliant or submissive
  • Exhibiting sexual behavior that is inappropriate for their age
  • Loss or decreased interest in school, activities, and friends
  • Intentionally avoiding removing clothing to change or bathe
  • Change in appetite

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Resources for More Information

National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse– This is a source providing sources for counseling and support groups for adult victims of sexual abuse counseling.
Dove Center– This organization provides counseling, shelter, and advocacy for victims of rape and sexual assault.


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Salt Lake Defense Attorney for Child Sexual Abuse in UT

Are you facing charges of aggravated sexual abuse of a child? If so, you need a criminal defense attorney who knows how to negotiate and has a lot of trial experience.

If you are under investigation or have been arrested, the prosecution is already working on your case — you should too. Call Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law at (801) 243-2814 for a skilled Salt Lake City sex crime defense atotreny so you can stayng out of jail and off of the sex offender registry.

Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law accepts inquiries from Salt Lake County, Davis County, and surrounding cities.


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