Crime Overview Sexual Assault

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Every two and a half minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted. One in every four women experienced either an attempted or a completed rape during her college years. Additionally, there were roughly 89,110 rapes reported in America in 2006 alone. Nearly 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, even though reporting has increased by one-third since 1993. Also, around 73% of rape victims know who their assaulter is, but only around 6% of rapists will spend even a day in jail because of their crime.

Sexual assault is any form of sexual contact in which a person is tricked, lured, bribed, or forced into without his/her consent. The assault can come in different forms, such as visual, verbal, or physical. Anyone can perpetrate sexual assault, including a neighbor, family member, superior, acquaintance, clergy member or stranger. Sexual assault is most often a felony crime and it is punishable by prison time.

There are different degrees of sexual assault, which are based on the amount of force the aggressor uses and the amount of harm that is inflicted on the victim. It's important to understand that the degrees of sexual assault are not based on how much the victim resists. First, second, and third degree sexual assaults are all felonies and encapsulate the offenses of sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent, through the threat or use of force or violence. These include assaults that have been aided and abetted by more than one person, that are accompanied by or incur injury, that cause the transmission of a disease or the impairment of a reproductive organ, that cause mental anguish, and that involve the mentally ill or deficient. Fourth degree sexual assault is the name given to sexual contact or intercourse that is consensual with an individual who is 16 to 18 years old. These can vary state to state, as can the different ages covered under statutory rape laws. Fourth degree sexual assault is a strict liability crime, so there is no defense acceptable for a court if one has sex with a minor.

Forms of sexual assault without force include groping in crowds, and peeping or photographing in secret, which may not induce fear or force due to their nature. In order to determine if it was sexual assault, the lack of compliance on the part of the victim, and the intent to instigate sexual satisfaction on the part of the perpetrator, are called into question.

There are different factors that have to be considered in a sexual assault case in order to reach a guilty or non-guilty verdict. One of these factors is whether the sexual contact or intercourse was consensual. Consent is defined as the words or clear actions by a person suggesting a voluntarily given agreement. It can be challenged as part of the criminal defense due to the gray areas surrounding what is consensual.

The victim's past sexual conduct, such as their lifestyle choices, contraception practices, and living arrangements are also brought to light during a trial. There is also spousal sexual assault, and just because a person is married doesn't mean they can't be a victim of sexual assault from their spouse.

If you have been accused of sexual assault, whether you are guilty or not, you should hire a criminal lawyer or attorney to help you with your case. This type of attorney can represent you if you have been charged with a crime, and can argue your case in a court of law. A criminal lawyer or attorney will typically have a private practice concentrating on criminal law.

There are some important things to look for when hiring a criminal lawyer or attorney. A good criminal attorney will be familiar with all the sexual assault laws of the state in which the crime took place, will also be familiar with local court customs and procedures that you may not be aware of, and will spend significant amounts of time on your case. In the process of working on your case, they will hire and manage investigators, as well as research and gather vital information from prosecution witnesses.

If you are suing a person or persons who have been convicted of sexual assault for damages resulting from the crime, you will need to hire a civil lawyer or attorney. Even if the person was not convicted and you feel they should have been and therefore want to sue them for damages -- you should hire a civil lawyer or attorney.

If you are ready to contact a criminal lawyer or attorney, visit the American Bar Association. The ABA offers free access to their lawyer locater, a search function that can help you search for a suitable criminal lawyer or attorney in your area.