To the victims of sexual assault, the various degrees can’t take away the emotional and physical pain. But these specific degrees have been put in place in order to clearly define and prosecuted the perpetrators of these heinous acts. Each state has their own sexual assault degrees laws and penalties. Although there might be some slight variations in the details of codes and statutes there are some very clear cut common denominators about the degrees of sexual assault.
First Degree Sexual Assault is considered a felony and the most serious of these types of offenses. This form of assault encompasses sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent that results in pregnancy or bodily harm, or where a weapon or threat of a weapon was used or where one or more persons where involved in the assault through the use of threat or violence. Most rapes will fall under this degree of sexual assault. It carries the harshest of penalties which could mean up to forty years behind bars for each count.
Second Degree Sexual Assault is also a felony and pertains to sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent as with First Degree Sexual Assault but other factors included in this degree concern the crime being committed against a person who is mentally impaired or physically disabled or who might be confined to a nursing home or even a prison. In some states, Second Degree Sexual Assault also applies to sexual contact without consent to a person who is under the age of twelve. Convictions of Second Degree Sexual Assault can land a person in jail for up to 25 years.
Third Degree Sexual Assault is consider a felony and concerns the same level of sexual intercourse or sexual contact without consent but deals with more specific assaults that might occur between members of the same household such as between husband and wife or between siblings. This can also include assaults that occur with minors between the ages of 12 and 18.
Not every state has a classification of Fourth Degree Sexual Assault but those that do consider this type of assault as a misdemeanor. Usually this involves sexual contact such as groping or exposing genitals but not necessarily intercourse. If sexual intercourse is involved with a Fourth Degree Sexual Assault it is usually a sexual assault occurring between two minors. Fourth Degree Sexual Assault can carry a five year jail term.
Sexual Assault is treated very seriously by the courts. Repeat offenders convicted of the same degree of sexual assault can fine their jail times doubled and tripled. Because the laws are so specific, it falls to the individual state’s prosecutors to determine which degree of sexual assault to levy against the accused. In some cases, the degree of sexual assault can be lowered in a plea bargain arrangement. If a person is convicted of any degree of sexual assault, they will have to register with a national sexual offender’s database.