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What is Criminal Sexual Abuse?

In general sexual abuse is determined to be any sexual act with intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse the sexual desire of any person. State laws regarding criminal sexual abuse vary depending on whether the victim is an adult or minor.

Sexual Abuse of a Minor

A person commits sexual abuse of a minor when the minor is between the ages of 12 and 16 years old and the accused is at least 4 years older than that minor.  The prosecution is not required to prove that the abuser knew the age of the victim or that the requisite age difference existed between the abuser and the victim.  If the sexual contact is with a child under the age of 12, then the maximum allowable punishment is doubled in most states.


A person has committed incest when they are involved in sexually inappropriate acts with a child by virtue of their authority or an ongoing emotional bond, such as a family member, extended family member, or other person known to them whom they trusted.

Statutory Rape

A person has committed statutory rape when they engage in sexual intercourse with a person under the statutory age of consent. The statutory age of consent varies by State, but is usually 16 or 18 years old. Some states also have age qualifications for the perpetrator.

Sexual Abuse

A person has committed sexual abuse when they:

Aggravated Sexual Abuse

Indecent Exposure


What Should You Do if You Have Been Accused of Sexual Abuse, or Are a Victim of Sexual Abuse?

Whether you are a victim or a perpetrator of sexual abuse, you should consult a criminal law attorney immediately to learn more about your rights, defenses and the complicated legal system.

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Last Modified: 01-31-2017 08:41 PM PST

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