Unlike regular assault, which only involves placing the victim in fear of physical contact or a failed attempt at physical contact, sexual assault does involve physical contact between the perpetrator and the victim. Sexual assault is nonconsensual sexual contact done by threat of force, force, or violence. In North Carolina, activities that are generally categorized as sexual assault are divided between sexual battery for lesser offenses and forcible sexual offense for more severe offenses.
What Is a Forcible Sexual Offense Under North Carolina Law?
North Carolina defines a forcible sexual offense as a person engaging in any sexual act other than vaginal penetration with another against the other person’s will. The sexual acts that fall under forcible sexual offense laws are:
- Anal penetration
- Penetration by an object into the genital or anal opening of another person other than for an accepted medical purpose
Are Rape and Forcible Sexual Offense the Same Crime in North Carolina?
No, although both can involve penetration of the victim’s body. North Carolina reserves rape for forcible sexual conduct with a victim that involves vaginal penetration with something other than an object.
What Is a First Degree Forcible Sexual Offense?
Under North Carolina law, a first degree forcible sexual offense is defined as engaging in a sexual act with the use of force or against the victim’s will where the perpetrator does one of the following:
- Engages in the activity while being aided or abetted by other people
- Displays or uses a deadly or dangerous weapon or an item that the victim reasonably believed to be a dangerous or deadly weapon
- Inflicts serious injury on the victim or another person
What Is the Punishment for First Degree Forcible Sexual Offense in North Carolina?
First degree forcible sexual offense is a Class B1 felony. A person with no prior felony convictions faces a punishment of 192 to 240 months in prison. If a person has prior felony convictions, then they could face up to 483 months in prison.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
A charge for a first degree forcible sexual offense if a serious criminal charge that can result in a lengthy prison sentence. If you are being accused of committing a forcible sexual offense, contact a North Carolina criminal defense lawyer immediately for help with your case.