Utah’s sexual predators can expect less recreation, tougher penalties with the passing of these bills

File photo depicting suspicious online behavior | Photo by Lincoln Beddoe/Getty Images, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Those who prey on children using the internet in Utah will now face tougher penalties when prosecuted.

Developed in part by the Utah Department of Corrections, which manages the Sex and Kidnap Offender Registry in Utah, the sex offender registry amendments bill, designated HB 122 in the 2023 Utah Legislature, has passed both houses of Utah’s legislature.

Sponsored by Rep. Marsha Judkins, R-Provo, the intent is to “clean up” previous legislation regarding sexual offenders, registry regulations and some changes to rules governing juvenile offenses, Judkins previously told St. George News.

The legislation will require those convicted of crimes for the attempt, solicitation or conspiracy to commit certain human trafficking violations, such as using social media to meet with a minor under the pretense of sex, to register as sex offenders.

Before the revisions proposed in HB 122, if a sex act or molestation did not occur, those convicted of meeting a minor were not required to register as a sex offender with prison officials as part of their sentence.

Another part of the legislation requires juveniles who are convicted of sex-related crimes to register on a non-public database, Judkins said in a recent interview. She noted the language had been modified from the bill she first introduced to include adults who are convicted for past crimes, even those committed as a juvenile.

Utah Rep. Marsha Judkins said there were gaps in sex offender legislation that will be fixed if HB 122 passes in 2023 | Marsha Judkins, for St. George News

“The only change that was made was to clarify late reporting language,” Judkins said. “With HB 122, if there is a late report — a victim reports a crime years after it was committed, and the offender was a juvenile at the time of the offense — the offender will be charged and sentenced as if they were a juvenile, unless they have committed a registerable offense as an adult. In that case, they will be treated as an adult.”

Dozens of state prosecutors, defense attorneys, Utah Department of Corrections and Board of Pardons employees, the Attorney General’s office, mental health providers, victim’s advocates, law enforcement and judges worked on the bill to fill gaps in existing legislation, Judkins said.

According to the Utah State Legislature website, a final bill was sent to the Legislative Research and General Counsel on Feb. 14.

“The Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel then prepares the bill in final form and sends it to the Governor for his action,” Utah’s website for Governor Cox states. “He can either sign the bill, veto it, or allow it (to) become law without his signature.”

File photo showing State Rep. Cory Maloy, R-Lehi, left, congratulates Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, on Jan. 22, 2021 | Photo by Laura Seitz/The Deseret News/Associated Press, St. George News

On Feb. 16, HB 146 was also approved by both branches of the Legislature. Sponsored by Rep. Cory Maloy, R-Lehi, the bill restricts access for registered sex offenders in Utah homeowners associations to areas that those convicted of sex crimes are already banned from in public places, such as swimming pools and recreational facilities.

In a House committee meeting two days earlier, Maloy said the original bill was intended for private entities and residents who live in HOAs. After discussion with other members of the Senate, the bill was changed to include all Utah communities with shared recreational facilities.

“That includes apartments and condominiums and those types of communities, in addition to HOAs, so that’s basically the change,” Maloy said in the meeting.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2023 Utah Legislature here.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.

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