You would be hard pressed to find any Utahn who doesn’t believe in protecting minors from sexual advances by adults. But while today’s youth are accessing the world through Facebook, Twitter, other social medias, and cell phones earlier and earlier, the technological advances can easily (and frequently) leave Utah’s laws out of date, unable to keep up with sexual predators and their attempts to seduce minors.
Currently, it is only illegal to seduce a minor over the internet if it is done via computer or telephone, while attempting to solicit a minor through new forms of communications is technically not illegal. In other words, it is only illegal to succeed in soliciting children, while attempting to do so, and failing, has no penalties. It is for this reason that Representative R. Curt Webb (Republican, Logan) is proposing HB 31 – Enticing a Minor Amendments.
The bill is a simple one. First, it expands the definition of what a “text message” is to include any type of electronic device (not just cell phones or computers). Of course, one would be hard pressed to come up with any other sort of broad technological device that would fit this mold, but, nonetheless, Webb is preparing for the future. The second, and more interesting part, is that Webb is making it a crime to even make the attempt to solicit a minor. While the courts would undoubtedly use a “reasonable” standard to deduce what attempted solicitation actually is, lawmakers must be careful when using such broad terminology, if only because it could inadvertent place an innocent person in some hot water. Is this probable? No. But is it possible? Yes. Again, we trust the courts to make a proper decision, but things can get squishy when the law is not concise. The third part of the bill gives teeth to these new standards. Various levels of felonies are attached to these attempted violations through new technological means, and these penalties appear to be stiff, but fair.
These simple changes to our state law would immediately benefit our youth as its expansion of powers would give law enforcement more power to convict those who wish to harm our children. Furthermore, the bill plans ahead for any sort of new technology that may be coming down the pipe that does not neatly fit into the mold of “computer” or “cell phone” (Google Google’s perhaps?). By enacting this legislation, we are ensuring that our youth will be better protected, and that those who wish to commit such terrible crimes will have an assured punishment.
To contact Rep. Ray, Click Here or call 435-753-0215
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Great Bill 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5 Poor Bill