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In Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania, in general, sexual assault is one of the more serious crimes a person can commit. The crime is described as sexual intercourse or some other type of sexual contact with another person by force, without their consent. Deviate sexual intercourse also falls under the category of sexual assault and involves contact between sexual organs and an anus or mouth. There is also the crime of statutory sexual assault, which is perpetrated if the victim is 16 years old or younger and the perpetrator is more than four years older and the two were not married during the offense.
No matter what, if you have been arrested and face charges of sexual assault, it is absolutely imperative that you immediately get in touch with an experienced Philadelphia sexual assault criminal defense attorney. These charges are very serious and carry extensive penalties that can stay with you for the rest of your life. This is not the time to go it alone and represent yourself. You need expert legal assistance to have the charges against you either reduced or potentially even dropped, which is impossible without a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side.
Sexual Assault vs Rape in Philadelphia
Generally speaking, it’s important to understand that rape and sexual assault are acknowledged as two different criminal offenses per the law in Philadelphia and all of Pennsylvania. As a result, they carry different penalties as well. At the same time, sexual assault and rape are both charged as felonies and are among the most serious of criminal offenses. Sexual assault is a crime that is committed when one person has sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with someone else without first gaining that person’s consent.
Rape, on the other hand, occurs when a person has sexual intercourse with a complainant and the following is also in place:
• The individual uses physical force or threatens to use it
• The individual relies on substances to calm or subdue the victim, such as drugs or alcohol
• The victim is unconscious
• The victim cannot legally consent due to being mentally disabled
Penalties for Sexual Assault in Philadelphia
Sexual assault is a crime that can see a defendant charged with anything from a third, second or first-degree felony. The penalties for these charges are as follows:
• Third-degree felony: If you are charged with a third-degree felony, you can expect to be responsible for a fine of up to $15,000 and a prison term up to seven years.
• Second-degree felony: A second-degree felony for sexual assault carries a maximum fine of $25,000 and a prison term of up to 10 years.
• First-degree felony: A first-degree felony is given for a rape conviction. It carries a maximum fine of $100,000 and a 20-year prison term.
In addition to these penalties, a person convicted of sexual assault is required to go on the Pennsylvania Sex Offender Registry. This can have a huge impact on the individual’s everyday life and can affect their ability to move to certain neighborhoods, gain employment and more.
Possible Defenses for Sexual Assault Charges
A criminal defense attorney can use certain defenses in a sexual assault case. They include the following:
• The victim actually gave consent for the sexual intercourse
• There is a situation of mistaken identity and the defendant did not commit the crime
• The victim was of legal age (statutory rape defense only)
• The defendant was involuntarily intoxicated
• The defendant is insane
If you face sexual assault charges in Philadelphia, you need to immediately contact a criminal defense attorney who is knowledgable in this area. Don’t chance your future with such serious charges in place.