A charge of institutional sexual assault is an incredibly serious charge that can very negatively affect your life. With this charge comes the potential for high fines and long sentences in prison. You may even also lose your civil rights as a result of a felony conviction. For certain employees of certain institutions, a sexual assault is penalized even more seriously.
With the help of an experienced Pennsylvania institutional sexual assault attorney, you can defend your case and protect your constitutional rights. You do not have to face this difficult time alone.
Philadelphia Institutional Sexual Assault Defense Attorney
With nearly a decade of experience working in different positions in the Pennsylvania justice system, Joseph Lento is a highly qualified Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney with a comprehensive knowledge of how a criminal case operates from start to finish, and beyond.
If you have been charged with institutional sexual assault in Philadelphia or the rest of Pennsylvania and need a comprehensive, customized defense, contact the attorneys at Lento Law Firm. Joseph Lento built his practice on the ideals of customer service and justice and he will fight for your rights and freedom. Call (215) 535-5353 today to schedule your free consultation and discover what Joseph Lento can do to clear your name.
Institutional Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law at 18 PA. CONS. STAT. § 3124.2, institutional sexual assault occurs when a person "engages in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, or indecent contact with an inmate, detainee, patient or resident." The offender must be an employee or agent of an institution and must be aware that the victim is an "inmate, detainee, patient, or resident."
Institutions included under the statute include:
- youth forestry camps
- mental health facilities
- treatment centers
- daycare facilities
- senior centers
- summer camps
Institutional Sexual Assault of a Minor
A person who "engages in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with an inmate, detainee, patient or resident who is under 18 years of age" commits the offense of institutional sexual assault of a minor.
This can occur in any of the institutions listed under the list above, so long as the alleged victim is under the age of 18.
Under the statute, institutional sexual assault of a minor in schools is specifically addressed. Any person who "is a volunteer or an employee of a school or any other person who has direct contact with a student at a school commits a felony of the third degree when he engages in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with a student of the school.
"Direct contact" means to have the care, supervision, guidance, or control over a minor. An "employee" includes:
- assistant principals
- director of vocational education
- dental hygienists
- visiting teachers
- home and school visitors
- child nutrition program specialists
- school librarians
- school secretaries
- school nurses
- substitute teachers
- cafeteria workers
- bus drivers
- teachers' aides
- any other employee with direct contact with students
Independent contractors who have a contract with the school, such as coaches, trainers, or other person hired by the school with direct contact could also face this same charge.
Other important definitions that are important to this charge include:
- "School" means a public or private school, intermediate unit or area vocational-technical school.
- "Agent" means a "person who is assigned to work in a State or county correctional or juvenile detention facility, a youth development center, youth forestry camp, other licensed residential facility serving children and youth or mental health or mental retardation facility or institution, who is employed by any State or county agency or any person employed by an entity providing contract services to the agency."
- "Center for children" means " a child day-care center, group and family day-care home, boarding home for children, a center providing early intervention and drug and alcohol services for children or other facility which provides child-care services which are subject to approval, licensure, registration or certification by the Department of Public Welfare or a county social services agency or which are provided pursuant to a contract with the department or a county social services agency. The term does not include a youth development center, youth forestry camp, State or county juvenile detention facility and other licensed residential facility serving children and youth.
Penalties for Institutional Sexual Assault
A person who commits institutional sexual assault commits a third-degree felony. A felony charge is incredibly serious and comes with significant criminal penalties. These include:
- a maximum prison sentence of up to 7 years
- a possible fine ranging from $2,500 to a maximum of $15,000
As a felony, you may also lose certain civil rights, such as the right to be on a jury, the right to own and carry a firearm, and the right to vote. Without a strong legal defense, you could see yourself behind bars for many years, and facing the worst possible penalties allowed under Pennsylvania law.
Defending Your Criminal Case
With the help of an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer, you can present a defense uniquely tailored to your individual case. With this strong defense at your disposal, you can protect your constitutional rights.
Common defenses include, but are not limited to:
- Failure of Identification: The identification was mistaken, or was not done according to strict constitutional rules.
- Filing a Suppression Motion: If evidence was unconstitutionally collected, that evidence can be kept out of trial.
- Not an Employee, Agent, or Independent Contractor: If you were not associated with an institution, this specific charge may not apply to you.
- Did Not Commit Underlying Crime: If you did not commit an underlying sexual assault, or meet the definitions necessary for the underlying crime, you are not guilty.
Consult a Pennsylvania Institutional Sexual Assault Attorney
If you or someone you care about faces a charge of institutional sexual assault in Pennsylvania, an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney can fight for your rights. Joseph D. Lento has the years of experience necessary to protect your rights.
Call (888) 535-3686 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation of your case.