Acts of sexual violence have an impact on millions of Americans. Looking solely at the data reported to law enforcement provides us with estimates; however, it is important to remember that some incidents go unreported. This is largely attributed to feelings that some victims may have including shame, embarrassment, or fear of reprisal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 33% of women and 25% of men experience some form of sexual violence in their lives. This may include victims of one isolated incident or those victimized over a period of time.
Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania
The state defines an act of sexual assault as being a crime where someone participates in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with someone who has not consented to do so. It is a second-degree felony offense that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
Statutory Sexual Assault
A statutory sexual assault is an act where someone participates in sexual intercourse with someone who they are not married to that is under the age of 16. It is a second-degree felony offense when the alleged offender is between four and eleven years older than the victim. The offense becomes a first-degree felony when the person is 11 years older or more. A first-degree felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Defining Intercourse and Consent
The state defines sexual intercourse as involving some “penetration however slight.” Deviate sexual intercourse is any penetration between humans or animals. It may also involve penetration using an object that is not for “medical, hygienic, or law enforcement” purposes.
Potential Criminal Record
Offenders may experience significant problems when subjected to a background check—particularly for offenses of this nature. The state maintains a sex offender registry for those crimes that have occurred since 2012 when the Adam Walsh Act was implemented. The Pennsylvania legislature is actively engaged in potentially revising how sex offenders are classified and registered. In 2017, the existing classification of “sexually violent predators” was deemed unconstitutional. A recent House Bill 1952 may allow for offenders to be removed from the registry after a period of 25 years.
The Pennsylvania Code states that those under the age of 13 are unable to consent to sexual actions. Those between the age of 13 and 15 may not consent in encounters with those who are more than four years older. At 16-years-old an individual may consent; however, this does not apply when the other party is in a position of institutional authority. The law recognizes that those with certain mental afflictions may not be capable of consenting. It is common in these cases that drugs or alcohol are involved and impairment may complicate things. This may result in differing opinions on whether consent was given or not.
Importance of Having Legal Representation
If you are convicted of sexual assault you may face a long sentence in prison and be labeled as a sex offender. Those facing such harsh consequences should retain an attorney that regularly defends felony cases. Based on the circumstances, these cases often have intricacies that are best managed by only experienced legal counsel.
Criminal Defense Attorney for Allegations of Sexual Assault in Bucks County
Joseph D. Lento is an attorney that understands the devastating impact of a conviction for sexual assault. He thoroughly reviews the facts and evidence involved and creates an effective defense strategy. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation.