Black's Law Dictionary 1162 (7th ed.1999) (defining a person as “[a] human being”); Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary 1338 (2d ed.1983) (defining a person as “an individual human being ․ an individual man, woman, or child”). I lay down the rule with these restrictions; though I know it is generally laid down more largely, that acts of parliament contrary to reason are void.
This crime modifies the offenses of Sexual Abuse (§ 13-1404), Sexual Conduct with a Minor (§ 13-1405), Sexual Assault (§ 13-1406), and Molestation of a Child under 15 (§ 13-1410) when those offenses involve a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, or knowing infliction of serious physical injury, and the perpetrator has a prior felony conviction for any sex offense.
This crime modifies the above offenses by: This crime is a Class D felony if: (i) offender over 20 engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity with victim under 16 and not offender’s spouse; or (ii) offender is employed with the Department of Correction, Department of Community Correction, Department of Human Services, or any city or county jail and victim is in the custody thereof and not offender’s spouse.
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The Court held that in order to avoid such an absurd result, it is “presumed that the legislature intended exceptions to its language.” Id. As such, “[g]eneral terms should be so limited in their application as not to lead to injustice, oppression, or an absurd consequence.” Id. The Court supported this proposition with two frequently cited historical illustrations of the principle: The common sense of man approves the judgment mentioned by Puffendorf, that the Bolognian law which enacted, “that whoever drew blood in the streets should be punished with the utmost severity,” did not extend to the surgeon who opened the vein of a person that fell down in the street in a fit. ¶ 15 More recent examples of what has been considered absurd can be found in the decisions of this court. Milbank Insurance Co., 2007 UT 37, ¶¶ 26-28, 163 P.3d 615, we were called upon to interpret a statute that requires the court to grant the plaintiff interest on special damages awarded by the jury “from the date of the occurrence of the act giving rise to the cause of action to the date of entering the judgment.” Utah Code Ann. In that case, the defendant had made a payment to the plaintiff well before the date of the trial, which the trial judge had deducted from the final jury award. Under the relevant statute, however, the plaintiff sought interest on this pretrial payment for the full statutory period, even for the time after the money had already been remitted to her. ¶ 28.¶ 16 And in Savage, 2004 UT 102, ¶¶ 14, 19, 104 P.3d 1242, we were called on to interpret Utah Code section 78-12-25.1(2), which provides that “[a] person shall file a civil action for intentional or negligent sexual abuse suffered as a child ․ within four years after the person attains the age of 18 years.” We noted that the plain language of the statute would bar a minor from pursuing a civil suit for sexual abuse until he attained 18 years of age. Thus, a plain language reading would have barred the three-year-old victim in that case from filing a civil suit for fifteen years from the time of abuse. Because we conclude that the legislature could not possibly have intended to punish both children under the child sex abuse statute for the same act of consensual heavy petting, we hold that applying the plain language of the statute in this case produces an absurd result.¶ 18 Sexual abuse of a child is one of the most heinous crimes recognized by our penal code. Cir.1994) (“I think it entirely appropriate to consult all public materials, including the background of Rule 609(a)(1) and the legislative history of its adoption, to verify that what seems to us an unthinkable disposition ․ was indeed unthought of, and thus to justify a departure from the ordinary meaning of the word “defendant” in the Rule. and the boy engaged in more than just sexual touching, but we must analyze the absurd result question in the context of the law actually applied and the act with which the State chose to charge Z. Under the State's proposed application of the law, therefore, if Z. committed more than five “separate acts” of sexual touching, she could be adjudicated delinquent for aggravated sexual abuse of a child. In the twelve-year-old boy's adjudication, he stood in the role of perpetrator and Z. In other words, the children were alternatively treated as both victims and perpetrators for the same act.
We found that “[b]ecause the clear purpose of section 78-27-44(2) is to compensate wronged parties for delays in recovering damages, it is absurd to require a defendant to pay interest on money that has already been remitted to the plaintiff.” Id. We simply noted that “[s]uch a result would be absurd.” Id. ¶ 17 With these precedents in mind, we examine whether Utah Code section 76-5-404.1 has been applied so as to produce an absurd result in this case. Taking each delinquency adjudication separately, of course, there is only one perpetrator and one victim. C.'s adjudication, the State simply reversed these roles.
2558 (Kennedy, J., concurring) (quoting FBI, 456 U. Both adultery and fornication are punishable as class B misdemeanors. ¶ 21 A review of the floor debates regarding the 1983 enactment of the Child Kidnaping and Sexual Abuse Act, L.1983, ch. PARRISH, Justice: ¶ 26 Chief Justice DURHAM, Justice DURRANT, and Justice NEHRING concur in Justice PARRISH's opinion.
¶ 20 We acknowledge that the legislature has demonstrated its intent to punish both participants in victimless, extramarital sexual activity under Utah's adultery and fornication statutes. Rather than punishing an actor who has perpetrated a crime against a victim, these laws demonstrate the legislature's disapproval of the acts of both participants for violating a moral standard. Because these crimes do not involve a victim, they involve a lesser degree of punishment. Thus, while the legislature clearly could have intended some degree of simultaneous culpability for both Z. and the twelve-year-old boy under the fornication statute in order to discourage their admittedly reckless and age-inappropriate behavior, it is absurd to conclude that the legislature intended to simultaneously punish both children for child sex abuse, a crime that clearly envisions a perpetrator and a victim. Rather, charges against the perpetrator must be based upon a material gap in the maturity of the two participants, evidence of coercion or force, or a wider age differential than exists in this case.
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