Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that nearly 20% of women and about 3% of men have experienced an attempted or completed incident of sexual assault. Among female victims, about 30% have experienced such assaults before the age of 18. The cost to society that results from sexual violence is high, as victims incur medical costs, losses of productivity, legal expenses and more.
Comparing Sexual Offenses
A sexual assault is when an individual has sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a party who does not consent. This is a second-degree felony offense. Statutory sexual assault is when an individual has sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 16 that they are not married to. This is a second-degree felony offense when the alleged offender is between four and eleven years older than the victim. If the alleged offender is over eleven years older than the victim the charge is enhanced to a first-degree felony offense.
The charge of rape (§ 3121) is a first-degree felony offense that occurs when an individual has sexual intercourse with someone by using force or threats of force. This also applies when the victim is not conscious, has been unknowingly drugged, or has a mental impairment that makes them not capable of giving consent.
If an individual has sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, or inappropriate contact with some under their authority they may be charged with institutional sexual assault. This is a third-degree felony offense that may apply to relationships such as:
- Those involving a teacher or school employee and a student
- Someone working for a licensed institution involved with a resident or patient
- Between an employee of a correctional facility and an inmate (and others)
Level of Offense
Period of Imprisonment
First Degree Felony
Up to 20 years
Up to $25,000
Second Degree Felony
Up to 10 years
Up to $25,000
Third Degree Felony
Up to 7 years
Up to 15,000
Sexual intercourse is an act 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. Indecent contact is touching someone's intimate parts for sexual arousal or gratification.
Those convicted of a sexually-oriented offense such as sexual assault may encounter the adverse impact of having a criminal record. In addition to a record of a criminal conviction, the Pennsylvania State Police maintains a public portal containing information about the state's sexual offenders. This is a provision referred to as Megan's Law that was established for the benefit of public safety.
Choosing an Attorney
Those charged with sexually-based offenses face increasingly stringent penalties for convictions. In addition, offenders face a lifetime of being stigmatized in the community. Even accusations that are false can have a devastating effect on an individual. With the magnitude of the potential consequences, it is critical to consult with an attorney that is very familiar with this realm of legal practice.
Chester County Criminal Defense Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento clearly understands the severity of charges such as sexual assault. He aggressively defends clients in these and other criminal actions in the Chester County court system. The first step is to promptly contact the office for a case consultation at (888) 535-3686.