Bucks County, PA Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer
Sexual assault is a serious crime. It entails intentional sexual touching of another person without that person’s consent. Sexual assault is a crime with significant criminal penalties, and there has been a significant increase in the awareness of sexual assault in the past decade, so sexual assault cases are being prosecuted more zealously than they were in the past.
If you or a loved one are facing sexual assault charges, the situation needs to be taken very seriously. Luckily, our experienced attorneys can help, and we can work with the prosecution and fight for you in court to try and get you the best possible outcome for your case.
For a free, confidential case review, call our sexual assault defense lawyers from The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.
Sexual Assault in Bucks County, PA
In general, sexual assault means nonconsensual sexual touching of another person. While that definition is what most likely comes to mind when someone discusses “sexual assault,” the term can also refer to much more serious conduct, like rape. Rape and similar offenses are criminalized under their own statutes and have far more serious penalties than most sexual assault crimes.
Pennsylvania has specific statutory definitions for sexual assault that cover different kinds of prohibited conduct.
Sexual assault, generally, is defined under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3124.1. This provision defines sexual assault as “deviate sexual intercourse” without the consent of one of the parties. In Pennsylvania, “deviate sexual intercourse” means either anal sex or any non-medical penetration of the genitals with a foreign object per 18 Pa.C.S. § 3101. While this may seem like a rather narrow definition that does not encompass all the conduct that would constitute sexual assault, this is because Pennsylvania has different crimes for specific types of sexual assault. Sexual assault of this nature is a, at minimum, felony of the second degree.
There are other crimes in Pennsylvania that might be colloquially called “sexual assault” crimes, such as rape and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. Rape in Pennsylvania is criminalized by 18 Pa.C.S. § 3121, while involuntary deviate sexual intercourse is criminalized under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3123. Indecent assault will be discussed in greater detail below.
Statutory Sexual Assault
Statutory sexual assault is defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3122.1 as sexual intercourse. Statutory sexual assault is a second-degree felony when it entails sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other, and the victim is either at least four years younger but less than eight years younger than the defendant or eight years younger but less than 11 years younger than the defendant. Statutory sexual assault is a felony of the first degree when the victim is under 16 years old, and the defendant is more than 11 years older than them.
Institutional Sexual Assault
Per 18 Pa.C.S. § 3124.2, institutional sexual assault is sexual intercourse or indecent contact with an inmate, person on parole, or person under probation by anyone who is an employee or agent of the Department of Corrections, youth development center, or forestry camp, as well as any employee or agent of a juvenile detention facility or mental health facility. A separate crime of institutional sexual assault of a minor exists for conduct that happens to victims who are under the age of 18. Both crimes are third-degree felonies. This provision is designed to criminalize the sexual abuse of people by individuals in positions of power over the victim.
Indecent assault is another crime under the umbrella of sexual assault in Pennsylvania. It is defined under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3126 as “indecent contact” with the victim by force, threat of force, or without the victim’s consent. It is also indecent assault to do these things if the victim is unconscious, sufficiently impaired by drugs or alcohol, or has a mental disability such that they cannot give consent. Finally, consent cannot be given if the victim is less than 13 years old or, if the victim is less than 16 years old, and if the perpetrator is four or more years older than the victim and not married to each other.
“Indecent contact” is defined under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3101 as any touching of another for the purpose of sexual desire or arousal. The definition of this crime is probably the most like what would be considered sexual assault in common parlance.
Depending on the severity of the conduct, indecent assault can be a misdemeanor or a third-degree felony. For example, sexual touching without consent is considered a second-degree misdemeanor, while a second offense or the deliberate touching of the perpetrator’s intimate parts to the victim’s intimate parts is considered a third-degree felony.
Penalties for Sexual Assault in Bucks County, PA
Each kind of sexual assault crime in Pennsylvania has different penalties attached. These penalties increase with the severity of the conduct in question. For example, an indecent assault that involves sexually charged contact with the victim will likely be a misdemeanor, while groping the victim’s genitals will likely be a felony.
In Pennsylvania, third-degree felonies are punishable by up to seven years in prison per 18 Pa. C.S. § 106. Third-degree felonies are generally reserved for the most serious kinds of sexual assault. Second and first-degree felonies, with significantly harsher penalties, are reserved for criminal conduct rising beyond mere sexual assault, such as rape or sexual intercourse with a child.
A significant number of sexual assault crimes are misdemeanors. Third-degree misdemeanors in Pennsylvania are punishable by up to one year in prison, while second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to two years in prison, and first-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to five years behind bars.
Defenses Against Sexual Assault Charges in Bucks County, PA
There are two main defenses against sexual assault charges in Pennsylvania. When you go over your case with our sexual assault defense lawyers, we can figure out whether either of these defenses or another, will work for your situation.
Sexual assault generally requires that there is no consent between the parties. Therefore, if you can prove that the other person gave consent, you cannot be charged with sexual assault. However, it is important to remember that certain people, like minors or intoxicated people, cannot give consent, so this defense will not work in those circumstances.
No Contact Occurred
Another way to disprove a sexual assault claim is to demonstrate that the contact did not occur. If you can prove through evidence or testimony that no sexual contact between you and the victim occurred, then a sexual assault charge cannot stand.
Call Our Bucks County, PA Sexual Assault Defense Lawyers Right Away
For help with your case, call our sexual assault defense lawyers with The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.