Utah Supreme Court says sex offender could see charges reduced
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A former Salt Lake City lawyer convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old boy will have a chance to have his charges reduced.

Howard Price Johnson, 58, pleaded guilty in March 2005 to having sex with the teen, whom he met over an Internet chat room.

At that time, prosecutors agreed they would not fight Johnson's motion to have the charges reduced after he completed a 36-month probation. But during that three-year period, the statute was changed to eliminate reductions for crimes that require sex offender registration.

In a unanimous decision handed down Friday, the Utah Supreme Court ruled the statute's changes could not be applied retroactively. The high court ordered the case back to the trial court, where the motion must be reconsidered based on the version of the statute in effect when Price was first sentenced.

Johnson pleaded guilty to counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, a third-degree felony, and enticing a minor, a class A misdemeanor. He has asked that the charges be reduced to a class A misdemeanor and a class B misdemeanor, respectively.

According to testimony, Johnson courted the teen online and invited him over to his home to have sex, apparently without telling the teen he was HIV positive. The boy did not contract the virus.

afalk@sltrib.com