Sex crimes warrant incredibly harsh penalties in virtually every state. The state of Pennsylvania is no exception, as it aggressively and vehemently enforces laws prohibiting these offenses. Not only are the penalties imposed by the criminal justice system harsh, but the social stigma attached to crimes of this nature cause one to experience societal condemnation before a trial even ensues. Mere accusations of crimes like statutory sexual assault, will single handedly destroy a person's reputation and standing in the community, even if they are false.
This is why people who have been accused of committing statutory sexual assault should immediately consult with an attorney who can help them salvage their reputation and work towards clearing their name. In this article we will address (1) what actions will lead to a statutory sexual assault charge in Pennsylvania, (2) and the penalties that may be imposed if a person is convicted of this crime.
What constitutes statutory sexual assault in Pennsylvania?
Many people are under the impression that as long as sexual interactions between parties are consensual, then there won't be any problems. However, depending on the ages of the parties involved, sex, even if consensual, can lead to a statutory sexual assault charge.
In Pennsylvania, the legal age of consent is 16-years-old. This means that anyone under the age of 16 is essentially mentally incapable of making decisions regarding sex. Therefore, a person may be charged with statutory sexual assault if they engage in sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 16. This charge remains intact if the person who is over the age of 16 is at least four years older than a minor. The only exception to this law is if it is proven that the parties are married.
Under Pennsylvania law, a conviction for standard statutory sexual assault is classified as a second degree felony. This charge carries penalties of 10 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.
This charge is elevated to a first degree felony in circumstances when the accused is 11 years, or older, than a minor. The conviction of a first degree felony is punishable by imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine of $25,000.
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
As you can see, a statutory sexual assault offense carries pretty severe penalties that could lead to substantial time spent in prison. If you have been accused of committing this crime, it will benefit you to consult with an attorney who can weigh your options and establish a strong criminal defense for you. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience successfully representing clients who have been in your shoes. Contact him today for help.