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What is sexual assault in Pennsylvania?

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Answered by: Lee Anthony Ciccarelli

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Learn more about how serious an allegation of sexual assault is in Pennsylvania and how important it is contact an experienced attorney immediately after you are alerted that you are the subject of an investigation or accusation of sexual assault.  Allegations of sexual assault carry severe personal and legal consequences. If the accusations lead to charges, it could affect your family, your job and your professional future. It is best to understand these charges and find out how to build an effective defense as soon as possible.

To build your best defense, it is important to understand what sexual assault is and what consequences you will face if you are charged.

What the charges mean:

  • Indecent assault. This is indecent contact without the consent of the victim. It includes use of seminal fluid, urine or feces with the intent of arousing sexual desire.
  • Involuntary deviant sexual intercourse. This can be oral or anal sex; sexual intercourse with an animal; or penetration of someone’s genitals with a foreign object.
  • Sexual assault. This can be either sexual intercourse or deviant sexual intercourse performed without someone’s consent.
  • Statutory sexual assault. Intercourse with someone under 16 years and who is more than four years younger.

Possible Sentences And Penalties

  • Twenty years in prison, $20,000 fine or both.
  • Sexual assault. Second-degree felony. Ten years in prison and a possible, discretionary fine. The amount of the fine depends on the severity of the crime.
  • Insanity pleas. Can require counseling or psychiatric treatment.
  • Indecent assault. Depending on the details of the accusations, and if it is the first of these offenses, it can be charged as either a first- or second-degree misdemeanor, and it carries a possible five-year sentence. When it is a repeat offense, it can be charged as a third-degree felony. In that case, there can be a seven-year prison sentence.
  • Sex offender registration. When someone is convicted of rape, sexual assault or several other sex crimes, they will also have to register as a sex offender for life.

Defending Yourself Against Sexual Assault Charges

With the severity of these allegations, you need the strongest possible defense. This means putting your case in the hands of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

If you are ever contacted by the police, you might be tempted to provide a statement. It is important to remain silent.  You want to tell them you are innocent and rebut allegations that are made against you. Unfortunately, by doing so you may unintentionally incriminate yourself. Police often claim to have evidence that they do not have, and any statement you make can be used to build evidence against you.  The best defense is to immediately consult with an experienced attorney.  

When you make a statement, you might:

  • Provide police with evidence they did not have before contacting you.
  • Make statements that make certain defenses unavailable.
  • Make statements that give police probable cause to arrest you.
  • Admit to things that you did not realize were crimes.
  • Make incriminating statements.

Megan’s Law

This law is named for Megan Kanka. Megan was a seven-year-old New Jersey girl who was sexually assaulted and murdered by a neighbor in 1994. The neighbor was a convicted sex offender, but the family did not know about his criminal history.

It makes it necessary for anyone convicted of a criminal sexual offense to register with local police and to notify law enforcement when they move. In Pennsylvania, enforcement officials make that information available to the public.

Offenses that require registration include:

  • Aggravated criminal sexual contact
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Criminal intent
  • Endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct that would impair a child’s morals
  • Kidnapping a minor (if the offender is not the parent)
  • Sexual assault
  • Luring/enticing
  • False imprisonment

With a conviction, this will affect where you live. It might also impact your employment options and your family.

Serious Allegations Require A Determined Defense

Sexual assault accusations should never be taken lightly. If they turn into charges, it will be life-altering. The severity of the charges and the consequences will depend on the details of your case. When a case reaches that level, you need to hire an attorney immediately who has defended these cases.

The attorney cannot make any promises, but depending on the details of your case, they might not be able to get the charges dismissed. If the charges stand, they might be able to work with the court to get the charges reduced or get you in diversion programs. The sooner you hire a law firm to work with you, the sooner they will be able to collect evidence. That evidence could determine your best course of action and it could affect the outcome.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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