What’s the Legal Definition of Sexual Assault? What You Need to Know
In most cases, it’s quite hard to define sexual assault in legal terms. However, the Department of Justice has made reasonable efforts to outline these crimes.
In premise, sexual assault is all types of sexual behavior or contact that occurs without direct consent by the recipient. However, in cases, we often find that this is not the case.
In this article, we will cover the definition of sexual assault from a more defensible perspective.
What Is the Definition of Sexual Assault?
As mentioned earlier, in accordance with the Department of Justice, sexual assault is all types of sexual behavior or contact that happens without direct/explicit consent from the recipient. Now, this might seem like quite an intricate statement, but it’s quite an umbrella term, as it would include fondling, rape, and attempted rape.
Also, the legal definition varies by the state in which the case is handled, and can even vary based on where the victim was when the assault occurred.
For instance, sexual assault on a college campus in California implies that the sexual act has happened without active/voluntary participation/consent, however, California laws identify rape as nonconsensual sexual intercourse. And all other laws govern the various other forms of sexual assault, especially those beyond intercourse.
It’s not an easy thing to define. These definitions often vary based on how the laws were made in the first place. For example, on the state level, because the state has power over the laws and legislature, jurors have designed different definitions based on a specific behavior.
Some states directly define sexual assault and others don’t but do cover that behavior under different terms. It runs the spectrum so to say. These laws are often developed based on locally-occurring cases that create a precedent over how sexual assault is to be determined and phrased.
The Three Implied Categories of Sexual Assault
Next, sexual assault is generally implied to belong to three categories of definition, supplementary evidence to the case. And these are:
- Contact with breast, genitalia, buttocks, or other intimate parts of the body.
- Exposure of breast, genitalia, buttocks, or other intimates parts of the body.
- Crimes of penetration.
Sexual harassment can often include assault, such as grabbing or rape, but it’s broader. Sexual harassment includes the use of pervasive comments/jokes, body language, looks, and the development of a hostile environment. Nonetheless, the definition also varies by state.
As for occurrences of locker room talk, it’s not considered a crime but can develop into the behavior of sexual harassment. From the perspective of prosecuting, they always consider how sexual violence and sexuality are visualized in film, media, music, games. Thus, how it impacts the way criminal justice specialists value evidence and then render fair decisions without the use of bias or misinformation.
The more pervasive the talk is, the more likely people are to be biased into thinking a sexual harassment crime is of the norm. Any phrase of language that promotes sexual violence is vividly dangerous, as it cleanses itself of criminal behavior allegations.
Sexual assault is morbidly underreported, and locker room talk diminishes victims. However, in some cases, locker room talk can be seen as a form of sexual harassment.
Pervasive jokes and erotic material at the workforce can be considered as a conduit for a hostile work environment, which could in fact fall under the term of sexual harassment. And that’s that for the definition of sexual assault.
What to Do If You’ve Been Assaulted
If you believe to have been sexually assaulted, there are some steps you need to take before you do anything else
First, get away from your attacker, and find a safe place as fast as possible. Call the police or 911.
Also, call a family member or friend or anybody that you trust. If none applies, call a hotline or crisis center to speak with a counselor. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 800-656-4673 (HOPE). Feelings of shock, fear, shame, and guilt are normal. It’s important to get professional help for them.
Make sure not to clean, comb, or wash parts of your body. Do not change clothes, and don’t’ touch or change the scene of the assault in any way. The medical staff has to collect evidence that will help tremendously in your defense.
Find the closest hospital ER, and get examined. You need to be treated for potential injuries, screened for STDs and/or pregnancy. The doctor will also use a rape kit to collect saliva, hairs, fibers, clothing, or semen that the attacker might have left.
Ask the staff about potential support groups that you can visit ASAP. However, it’s recommended that you prolong “reporting” the case officially. Before you do a report, it’s best to speak with an experienced attorney who will be able to ensure the best possible defense for your case.
Remember that if you’re a survivor of violence at the hands of someone you know or by someone who is strange, you are not alone. Seek immediate help and support.
Your Defense Done Right
Now that you have discovered the definition of sexual assault, you are well on your way to ensure that you know exactly how it can be defined in court. As long as you believe that you have been assaulted that’s all that matters, but when it comes to legal proceedings, the law is still applied.
Therefore, it’s best that you find a skilled and knowledgeable attorney who will be able to take your belief and make use of the existing evidence to prove the sexual assault performed against you.
If you’re interested in working with a lawyer, get in touch with us now and we will happily accommodate your needs.