How is Sexual Assault Defined by the Law?

Sexual assault laws vary between states, but it generally refers to crimes where the offender forces a victim to endure unwanted touching of a sexual nature. The crimes range from groping to attempted rape and everything in between. All states uniformly prohibit sexual assault, although the definitions of these crimes are different. The laws are similar in their goal, but their wording, structure, and what the laws cover are extremely variable.

Burden of Proof of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is typically considered involuntary sexual conduct that is forced or coerced, or is initiated when the victim is incapacitated. Incapacitation is determined by the law as the victim’s mental or physical inability to understand the acts being done or indicate that they were unwilling to participate in the acts. Commonly, a victim is considered incapacitated if they have ingested alcohol or date rape drugs because both can incapacitate the victim to the point of making it impossible to legally consent to sexual acts. The law covers nonconsensual sexual contact occurring between people of all sex/genders and ages.

Sexual assault is generally used to refer to all crimes of a sexual nature, though some states will make distinctions about crimes involving penetration, coercion, involuntary contact and other acts. Such acts will bring about custom charges; a crime involving penetration will likely bring a charge of aggravated assault and involuntary touching may be assigned a charge of lower-level assault.

How Does Federal Law Regard Spousal Sexual Assault?

Most states now include acts of spousal sexual assault. They do this in a few ways: removing the exemption of spousal assault, removing marriage as a credible defense for sexual assault, and creating a law prohibiting spousal sexual assault by name.

There is a federal statute that outlaws sexual assault and prohibits any acts resulting from someone threatening or purposely putting the victim into a frightening situation as well as prohibiting acts that happen while the victim is incapacitated.

How Do State Laws Treat Sexual Assault?

Classification of sexual crimes are pretty standard, but sentencing can vary between states. Some states separate acts into crime classifications which dictate sentencing, and some states combine all of them under the umbrella of sexual assault.

Seeking Legal Assistance for a Charge

If you are a victim, you should also find a lawyer to support you through such a painful process. You should be able to seek civil or criminal charges as the crime dictates. These are horrible crimes and should be dealt with accordingly. Seek legal assistance to help you get through a challenging legal process and assure you that everything will be done to prosecute your attacker.

Severe penalties accompany a conviction of sexual assault and almost certainly include prison time. If you are facing charges, then you should consult a sexual assault defense attorney right away. Do not wait to get legal advice, this could act in your detriment. Contact an experienced lawyer for a consultation about the particular circumstances of your case such as the Criminal Defense attorney Phoenix AZ locals trust.

Thanks to authors at Lorona Mead Attorneys at Law for their insight into Criminal Defense.