Criminal sexual abuse is any sexual act intended to humiliate, harass, degrade, or abuse another person. The laws regarding criminal sexual abuse differ from state to state, depending on whether the victim is a minor or an adult. When the victim is a child, it is typically called child molestation, while adult sexual abuse is often referred to as rape or aggravated sexual assault.
A person can be charged with sexual abuse if they engage in any sexual act with another person who is incapable of comprehending the nature of that conduct or if they use threats or fear to make someone engage in a sexual act.
Sexual assault, on the other hand, is any sexual activity that occurs without the clear and uncoerced consent of all parties involved. This is a crime in every state, and it prohibits sexual activity with anyone who is unable to give consent, such as minors, individuals who are mentally incapacitated, or those who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Examples of sexual assault may include rape, molestation, forced sodomy, and incest.
In some states, such as Texas, the term “sexual abuse” is generally used to describe criminal acts of sexual conduct against children. In contrast, “sexual assault” describes criminal acts of sexual conduct against adults.
What Is the Difference Between Sexual Abuse of a Minor and Statutory Rape?
Sexual abuse and assault offenses are categorized based on the victim’s age. Sexual crimes against children are categorized differently from sexual crimes against adults.
Sexual abuse of a minor occurs when a minor is between the ages of twelve and sixteen years old and the accused is at least four years older than the minor. The prosecution is not generally required to prove that the abuser was aware of the minor’s age or the required age difference between the abuser and the victim. If sexual contact occurs with a child under the age of twelve, the maximum allowable punishment is doubled in most states.
Child molestation occurs when a person commits any “lewd or lascivious” act upon or with the body of a child with the intent to arouse, appeal, or gratify lust, passion, or sexual desires. Those convicted of child sexual abuse may face imprisonment, being placed on a sexual offender registration, loss of the right to vote, and mandatory AIDS testing.
Statutory rape, on the other hand, occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse with someone under the statutory age of consent. The statutory age of consent varies by state but generally is sixteen or eighteen years old. Some states may also have age qualifications for the perpetrator.
Statutory rape is a strict liability crime, meaning that the consent of the younger person or any mistake regarding their age is not a defense to the crime of statutory rape.
In general, statutory rape is considered a felony offense and can result in years of imprisonment, fines, probation, and registration as a sex offender. The length of imprisonment and the amount of the fine will depend on the crime’s severity, the victim’s age, and the defendant’s prior criminal record.
Registration as a sex offender can have serious long-term consequences, including restrictions on where the offender can live and work and limitations on their ability to participate in certain activities.
The age of consent varies by state, ranging from 16 to 18 years old. In some states, the perpetrator may have additional age qualifications, such as a maximum age difference between the minor and the perpetrator.
What Are Some Other Classifications of Sexual Abuse?
Most states define incest as sexual relations with a close family member. A person has committed incest when they engage in sexually inappropriate acts with a family member or extended family member. The perpetrator abuses their authority or an ongoing emotional bond with their relative to accomplish this.
An example of incest would be a father engaging in sexual activity with his daughter or a brother engaging in sexual activity with his sister. Another example would be a grandfather engaging in sexual activity with his grandchild.
What constitutes a close family member may vary by state but generally includes parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and nieces and nephews.
Aggravated Sexual Abuse
Aggravated sexual abuse occurs when a person uses force against or threatens the victim, causing them to fear death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping. This type of abuse may also occur when a person knowingly renders the victim unconscious and proceeds to engage in sexual acts.
- An example of aggravated sexual abuse includes:
- Administering a drug or intoxicant to a person without their consent.
- Impairing the victim’s ability to control their conduct.
- Engaging in sexual acts with the victim.
Another example of aggravated sexual abuse is when a person uses physical force to compel a victim to engage in sexual activity against their will. This can include restraining the victim, threatening them with a weapon, or physically overpowering them.
Indecent Exposure and Voyeurism
Indecent exposure is often called lewd and lascivious behavior, as previously mentioned. It is a crime to display genitalia to one or more people in a public place to shock the viewer and attain sexual arousal.
Voyeurism involves observing unsuspecting individuals while naked, disrobing, or engaging in sexual activity to seek sexual excitement.
An example of voyeurism is when a person uses a hidden camera to record someone undressing or engaging in sexual activity without their knowledge or consent. Another example is secretly peeping into someone’s window to watch them undress or have sex.
Do I Need an Attorney for Help with a Sexual Abuse Case?
Sexual abuse and assault are very serious crimes. If you have been accused of rape, child molestation, or some other type of sexual abuse, you should immediately consult with a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. An attorney can discuss your legal options and your legal rights, as well as represent you in court.
If you are a victim of sexual abuse, you should begin by calling the police. Once there is sufficient evidence, the police will forward your case to the district attorney to prosecute the person who committed the sexual abuse against you.
LegalMatch is a service that can then connect you with experienced criminal defense attorneys or victim advocates who handle sexual abuse cases. By filling out a brief online form, LegalMatch can match you with attorneys in your area who have experience handling cases similar to yours.
With LegalMatch, you can be confident that you will be connected with a qualified attorney who can provide you with the legal guidance and representation you need. Additionally, LegalMatch provides helpful resources and information to help you understand the legal process and what to expect during your case.
Don’t delay. Use LegalMatch to find the right criminal defense lawyer for your sexual abuse case today.