Sexual Assault Laws

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What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is nonconsensual touching or contact of a sexual nature done by force, threat of force, or violence. Unlike sexual battery, sexual assault does not require penetration to constitute a crime.

What Is Sexual Touching or Contact?

Sexual touching or contact is the knowing, purposeful touching of an intimate or private part of another in order to arouse sexual desire. The touching may be accomplished either directly to the person’s body or through the clothing. For example, sexual touching or contact may include inappropriately grabbing the buttocks of a person, even if covered by clothes. 

Can Sexual Assault Be Punishable as Aggravated Assault?

Some states have laws that will classify sexual assault as aggravated assault if the force or violence causes bodily harm or injuries to the person who was assaulted. Aggravated assault has increased penalties.

Instances Where Touching or Contact Is Not Assault?

Some instances where touching or contact is not considered an assault include:

  1. Medical Personnel – Where a medical person, not acting under false representation, is performing a clinical evaluation, then the touching cannot be considered sexual contact.
  2. Parents – Where a parent performing necessary domestic functions, then the touching is not sexual contact. If, however, the touching is by a spouse and the it is not performed for a necessary domestic function, then the touching may be considered sexual assault.

How Much Force Is Needed to Qualify as Assault?

The force can be as simple as making the contact. Furthermore, the amount of force is relative to the person being touching. Obviously, the force necessary to subject touching to an unwitting child differs from that of an adult, and the touching will likely be found forceful, no matter how slight. There are two other important categories of touching that may result in criminal liability:

  1. Non-Violent Touching – as implied above, the touching does not have to be violent to be sexual assault. If the touching is unconsented and has the effect of offending a reasonably sensible person, then the touching may constitute sexual assault
  2. Physical Helplessness – sexual assault may also occur if the person is unable to communicate consent because they are physically helpless. Physical helplessness includes someone who is unconscious or has blacked out due to alcohol.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Sexual assault is a crime in most states. If you are the victim of sexual assault, contact the authorities to have the assailant arrested. If you would like to pursue a civil case against the individual, then hiring an attorney would be wise. If you are accused of sexual assault, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to help protect your rights.

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Last Modified: 04-15-2014 04:36 PM PDT

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