3 Things to Know About Utah’s “Jessica’s Law” 25 Years to Life

If you have been accused of a sex crime against a minor, then it is vital for you to understand the penalties that you may be facing if you are convicted. In 2008, Utah passed a new law that imposes particularly harsh sentencing guidelines for defendants who are convicted of the most serious sex crimes against children. People convicted of these offenses are subject to a mandatory 25 years to life sentence, which makes working with a Utah sex crime defense lawyer imperative. Here are three things that you need to know about Jessica’s Law.

Jessica’s Law Means Serious Sentencing For Defendants Convicted of Certain Sex Crimes

From 1983 to 1996, Utah had mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for people convicted of sexual offenses against minors. That system was scrapped in favor of “indeterminate” sentencing, which gave judges considerable leeway when it came to sentencing. In fact, a five-member parole board had the ultimate discretion when it came to determining how long of a sentence sexual offenders served. This allowed the parole board to decide on an individual basis whether or not an inmate had received sufficient treatment and was appropriately rehabilitated.

A version of Florida’s Jessica’s Law was adopted in 2008. Under its guidelines, there is far less leeway when it comes to deciding how long a convicted sex offender spends in prison. People convicted under the law are all but guaranteed to spend at least 25 years in prison.

Jessica’s Law Applies To the Most Serious Sexual Offenses Against Children

The first Jessica’s Law was enacted in Florida after a nine-year-old girl was kidnapped, raped and murdered. It set the standard for the sentencing of 25 years to life for similar crimes. More than 30 other states, including Utah, have adopted similar legislation. Accordingly, anyone who is convicted of rape, sodomy or object rape of a person under the age of 15 is facing a particularly harsh penalty.

It May Be Possible To Plea To Lesser Charges

Utah is rare in that its version of Jessica’s Law allows defendants to plead guilty to a lesser attempted charge in exchange for a sentence of about 15 years. State legislators made this provision in the hope that it would avoid problems that other states have encountered when a plea agreement is appropriate, yet is not allowed under the stricter law. Only a qualified Utah sex crime defense lawyer can determine whether a plea bargain may apply in your case.

At Wasatch Defense Lawyers, we help people every day who have been charged with sexual offenses against minors. We are skillful negotiators who do our utmost to get the charges against our clients reduced or dropped. Experience matters when you’re facing a minimum of 25 years in prison. Don’t put your future and your freedom in the hands of a less experienced Utah sex crime defense lawyer. Call Wasatch Defense Lawyers today to have your case reviewed.

About the Author:

Craig Chlarson is an aggressive, experienced criminal defense attorney in Utah. Craig has represented thousands of clients, with countless difficulties and challenges, for more than thirty years. Less than 1% of his clients have ever been incarcerated. Craig is trained to work on your behalf — and to secure your freedom.

Wasatch Defense Lawyers
299 S Main ST
Floor 13
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
801–980–9965

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