Flagged Bill: HB 74 – Consent Definition for Sexual Offense – Rep. Angela Romero

Representative Angela Romero (Democrat - Salt Lake City)

Representative Angela Romero (Democrat – Salt Lake City)

Though it should go without saying, rape is one of the most serious crimes a person can possibly commit.The complete dominance and taking of power by one person towards another is an affront to personal liberty and equality. In recent years, views towards rape have evolved, as our culture has come to realize that sexual assault and rape are not done out of a sexual desire, but out of one of power and dominance.

But, just because society has started to evolve on the topic, it does not mean that our laws have advanced with it.

It is for this reason that Representative Angela Romero (Democrat – Salt Lake City) is pushing HB 74 – Consent Definition for Sexual Offense.

Romero’s bill would make two very important updates to Utah’s current sexual offense laws that are long over due.

First, it may come as a surprise to some that the law currently states that “[sexual offenses occur when] the victim has not consented and the [perpetrator] knows the victim is unconscious, unaware the act is occurring, or physically unable to resist.” Under Romero’s legislation, the state would eliminate the requirement that the victim has to in some way demonstrate that they did not consent to the sexual act prior to it taking place.

Utah law also states that a sexual offense occurs when the perpetrator “knows that as a result of mental disease or deficit, the victim is at the time of the act incapable either of appraising the nature of the act or of resisting it.” Romero, under her legislation, would eliminate the mental disease or deficit section of the code to more broadly define the term to simply state that an offense occurs when one is unable to resist for whatever reason.

These two changes would mark a strong shift in Utah policy towards punishing sexual offenders. Currently, Utah could be described as a “no means no” state, a policy that was advanced for its time; however, as our culture has evolved, there is a greater understanding that silence can also mean no and that “yes” doesn’t always mean “yes.”

The problem with basic policies such as “no means no” or “yes can mean no” is that it ultimately still places blame on the victim for the act. With HB 74, Romero is stating that the perpetrator, and not the victim, is the one who makes the decision to commit a crime.

This marked change will no doubt cause problems for Romero as she attempts to advance this legislation. Lawmakers will no doubt joke (or perhaps honestly ask) if paperwork will be required prior to a sexual act. Questions about false accusations will also arise as lawmakers forget about or disregard the fact that forensic evidence is also required for a conviction.

It is true that some may abuse the changes in the law, however this fact is the case with all laws – even with the most heinous of crimes. Our criminal justice system has ways of handling such accusations in both criminal and civil court, and to use the false accusation argument shows a lack of trust in the criminal justice system.

Romero, ultimately, would be taking a great step forward in protecting victims, placing blame where it belongs, and emphasizing the fact that the true policy towards sexual assault shouldn’t be “no means no” or “yes means yes,” the true policy should be “don’t rape – period.”

To contact Representative Romero, Click Here or call 801-722-4972

You can track this, and all of our other flagged bills, by clicking here. Need an explanation of scores? Click Here.

Impact on Average Utahn 0-1-2-3-4-5
Need for Legislation 0-1-2-3-4-5
Lemon Score 0-1-2-3-4-5
Overall Grade A

5 comments for “Flagged Bill: HB 74 – Consent Definition for Sexual Offense – Rep. Angela Romero

  1. William Ganness
    January 8, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Does this go to moderation

  2. January 8, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Thank you, terrific material guys. I know Raj Napal who was an excellent legal professional I understand, received won countless instances performing really hard.
    As a result is definitely the top rated legal professional around
    North america.

  3. Jim Roberts
    January 8, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    The description of the bill gives the impression that it would criminalize nearly all sexual encounters in the state. If “yes can mean no”, then affirmative consent is worthless. Whether sex was consensual or not defaults to the negative, and all sexually active adults in Utah put themselves at risk of criminal prosecution. How reliance on forensic evidence would ameliorate this problem is not explained.

    Also notably missing is any quantitative justification for changing the code. Rep. Romero makes an emotional argument that rape is horrific and therefore draconian laws are needed to stamp it out. But is it a pressing concern for Utahns who aren’t looking to score points with a particular constituency? According to the BJS, complaints of sexual assault have fallen to an all-time low.

    If Haring’s review is accurate, this is a lemon law.

  4. Guest
    January 9, 2015 at 12:23 am

    “as our culture has come to realize that sexual assault and rape are not done out of a sexual desire, but out of one of power and dominance.”

    Bigoted, bogus and fascist-feminist ‘rape culture’ nonsense talking.

  5. JamesNunya
    January 9, 2015 at 6:40 am

    “Our criminal justice system has ways of handling such accusations in both criminal and civil court, and to use the false accusation argument shows a lack of trust in the criminal justice system.”

    LOL!!!!!!! That truly cracked me up. One word. Ferguson. Two words. Child custody. Three words. Civil Rights Movement. Do any of those ring a bell? They are all issues because our justice system (criminal or otherwise) is a joke. Police officers are thugs, Lawyers are as bad as any politician, and Judges are corrupt fuckwits who over see the whole debaucle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *