Monday, January 23, 2006

Equal Protection

State in re Z.C., 2005 UT App 562

The court of appeals affirms a thirteen year-old girl's adjudication for sexual abuse of a child based on "mutually welcome sexual intercourse" with her 12 year-old boyfriend. Under Utah's sex offense laws the juvenile's conduct is labeled a second degree felony, but similar conduct between consenting fourteen year-olds is labeled only a class B misdemeanor. The court found that this scheme did not violate equal protection guarantees:
The Legislature is well within its rights to come down solidly against sexual activity with children of such tender tears---anywhere, anytime, any place, and by anyone.
The court commented in a footnote, however, that the legislative scheme appeared to be an oversight, and said:
If this unusual outcome was indeed an oversight, we encourage theLegislature to effectuate its actual intent by amending the statute perhaps providing for less serious repercussions for juveniles under fourteen years of age when the engage in mutually welcome sexual activities with their peers.


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