The Appellate Group

State v. Rosen

State v. Rosen, 2021 UT App 32 (Orme, J.)

Defendant challenged his conviction for unlawful sexual conduct with a 16-year-old, arguing that his counsel was ineffective for not challenging the constitutionality of the statutory scheme, which prevented Defendant from raising a mistake-of-fact defense regarding the age of the complainant because he was more than ten years older than the complainant, even though he could have raised such a defense if he were between seven and ten-years-older than complainant. Defendant argued there was no rational basis to support the statutory scheme drawing distinctions between adult individuals as to which adult defendants could raise the mistake-of-fact defense and which adult defendants could not. Nevertheless, the court of appeals affirmed, holding:

  • Counsel had not acted unreasonably in failing to challenge the unconstitutionality of the statutory scheme because “[a] uniform operation of laws challenge is a relatively sophisticated undertaking.” .
  • In addition, the court of appeals believed that reasonable counsel may not have challenged the statute because counsel could have believed that there was a rational basis for the lines drawn by the legislature or because related statutory schemes in other jurisdictions have been upheld.

Read the full court opinion