Is Sexual Assault a Crime? Here’s What You Need to Know

Sexual assault is a serious issue, but how serious is it? Is sexual assault a crime? Consider what sexual assault is and its legal standing.

Keyword(s): is sexual assault a crime

Despite cases of sexual assault and rape decreasing from 1993, these offenses continue to happen all over the US. And unfortunately, every 73 seconds, a woman is sexually assaulted. With attacks occurring so frequently, one may wonder, is sexual assault a crime?

The answer is yes, sexual assault is a crime. Sexual assault is a form of sexual violence, and the other two forms are sexual harassment and rape. But there are specific things that constitute sexual assault, and even in some states, the law against sexual assault varies.

Today, we will go over the implications of sexual assault and what sort of punishment this crime can have on an offender.

What Is Sexual Assault?

Despite the differences in how sexual assault is treated in individual states, the Department of Justice has made a clear outline of sexual assault. This outline is crucial to know when filing a sexual assault case. Let’s look at how sexual assault is a crime based on the National Institute of Justice.

  • Voyeurism
  • Exposure to exhibitionism
  • Undesired exposure to pornography
  • Public display of images captured in a private context or when the victim was unaware
  • Deliberate touching of the victim’s genitals, anus, or breasts

If the offender does this without the victim’s consent because of age, disability, drugs, or a physical threat, it is considered sexual assault. A court may even consider an attempt at the victim as sexual assault. With a reputable attorney, a sexual assault victim can make their case.

Let’s briefly touch on the other two forms of sexual violence so that you can have clear in mind the difference between sexual assault.

Sexual Violence as Sexual Harassment 

Sexual harassment can even be an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. Onlookers commonly ignore this form of sexual violence as many view it as normal.

Sexual Violence as Rape

This form of sexual violence varies by state, but generally, rape is non-consensual oral, anal, or vaginal intrusion of the victim by body parts. Often, rape happens after a sexual assault. Rape is a felony in all states.

How Is Sexual Assault a Crime?

As previously mentioned, each state upholds a different law against sexual assault. For example, in Texas, a court can charge someone that has committed a sexual assault as either a first, second, or third-degree felony. What are the possible maximum punishments?

First Degree Felony

A district court can sentence an offender from five to ninety-nine years in prison or a life sentence. Additionally, an offender will require to pay a $10,000 fine. A first-degree felony depends on the facts of the sexual assault crime.

Possible situations that may lead to this decision are:

  • The victim is physically weak, and the offender knows
  • The offender causes submission of the victim by threat of death, serious bodily injury, or extreme physical pain
  • The offender knows that the victim suffers a mental illness, mental deficiency, or developmental disability

That is why you should hire an attorney with lots of experience to handle your sexual assault case.

Second Degree Felony 

A district court can sentence an offender from two to twenty years in prison. Additionally, an offender will need to pay a $10,000 fine. Victims that consent wrongly thinking that the other person is his/her spouse is often considered a second-degree felony in some states.

Possible situations that may lead to this decision are:

  • The offender causes submission of the victim by any means that would prevent resistance by a victim
  • The offender administers or knows that someone else administered to the victim any substance which impairs the victim
  • The offender is in a position of authority over the victim and causes the victim to submit

The sexual assault victim needs to make sure they have all the facts to ensure the attorney can bring justice to the offender.

Third Degree Felony 

A district court can sentence an offender from two to ten years in prison. Additionally, an offender will need to pay a $10,000 fine. A third-degree felony is the least punishing offense related to sexual assault. 

The possible situation that may lead to this decision are:

  • The offender subjects a victim to sexual contact without inflicting sexual intrusion on the victim and doesn’t cause severe bodily injury

Sexual harassment can constitute a third-degree felony. Another reason you should have a skilled lawyer guiding you through the sexual assault case.

What Does Consent Mean?

As you may have seen, what is crucial in a sexual assault case is if there was any consent. Consent or permission is an agreement among partners to engage in sexual activity. Consent cannot be given by somebody underage, hindered by drugs or alcohol, or asleep or unconscious.

There is also an age of consent, and as with many laws, these change from state to state. For Texas, the age of consent is currently 17, though 14 is the minimum age of consent. So legally, a 14-year-old may consent to have sex with someone if the person is less than three years older.

You can withdraw permission at any point if you feel nervous. You can do this by communicating with your partner that you are no longer pleased with this activity and want to stop. Even if you consent to one sexual activity, it doesn’t mean you agree to other sexual activities or the same activity at different moments.

We Are Here to Help Those Who Need It

We have seen why is sexual assault a crime. So don’t hesitate to file a sexual assault case, as many states provide great help to sexual assault victims. Remember that those who commit sexual crimes need to take responsibility for their shameful actions. 

If you need a reputable attorney to represent you, contact us today. We have been defending the good people of Houston since 1997. We will make sure to handle your sexual assault case with great care and professionalism.

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