Sexual violence affects millions annually in the U.S. Many of these incidents are not reported to authorities, as victims may harbor feelings of shame, embarrassment, or may fear a reprisal. In Pennsylvania between 2016 and 2017, agencies assisted over 13,000 adult and 7,000 child victims of sexual violence. In 2017, the Philadelphia Police data indicate that approximately 1,100 individuals were victims of sexual assault.
Sexual Assault (§ 3124.1)
The crime of sexual assault is committed when someone engages 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.
It is necessary to understand the meaning of several terms in order to properly interpret the provisions. Sexual intercourse involves any form of sexual penetration “however slight.” Deviate sexual intercourse involves sexual penetration among humans or animals. Deviate intercourse may also include any form of sexual penetration using a foreign object.
Statutory Sexual Assault (§ 3122.1)
A statutory sexual assault is an act where someone participates in sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 16 that they are not married to. The offense is classified as a felony of the second degree when the alleged offender is between four and eleven years older than the victim. The crime is classified as a first-degree felony when the alleged offender is 11 years older or more.
- Felony of First Degree: Punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $25,000 fine
- Felony of Second Degree: Punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $25,000 fine
- Felony of Third Degree: Punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 7 years and a $15,000 fine
Differentiation from the Charge of Rape (§ 3121)
Rape is a felony offense of the first degree that is defined as participating in sexual intercourse without a person's consent. It is differentiated from a sexual assault in that the alleged offender may forcibly commit the crime or use the threat of force. Rape also may be committed when the victim is not conscious at the time, has been unknowingly impaired, or is unable to consent due to a mental disability.
Record of Criminal Offense
Those with criminal convictions may encounter ongoing difficulties such as in obtaining employment or leasing an apartment based on their criminal record. When a background check is conducted, evidence of the offense will be revealed. Convictions of a sexual nature tend to be stigmatized in our communities.
In 1995, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge first enacted Megan's Law. The Pennsylvania State Police manages a Pennsylvania Sexual Offender Registry and ensures that those convicted of sexually-based offenses are tracked. The database is accessible to agencies of law enforcement and the general public.
Pennsylvania allows for significant penalties to be imposed on those convicted of sexual assault and other such violent offenses. Having representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney is critical to protecting your rights. Issues that arise in these cases such as those relating to consent can be complex and require a lawyer that is familiar with this realm of legal practice.
Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Defense Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent years aggressively representing clients charged with serious felony offenses. He has the skills and expertise needed to develop a highly effective defense strategy. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for a case evaluation.