How Sexual Assaults are Defined in Pennsylvania

How Sexual Assaults are Defined in PennsylvaniaRape and sexual assault are among the most heinous crimes in the justice system. Penalties include serious prison time, hefty fines, and registration as a sex offender.

In Pennsylvania, sex crimes range from indecent sexual assault, sexual assault within religious institutions to sexual assault by a sports official and youth organization volunteers.

If you or a loved one is the victim of sexual abuse, understanding assault and rape laws in Pennsylvania can help you obtain justice and closure.

For more information, consult with a knowledgeable civil rights attorney.

How rape is defined in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania defines rape as the crime of forcibly (or under the threat of force) engaging in sexual intercourse with another person. The state also recognizes that rape can occur if a person uses drugs or alcohol to impair a victim without his or her knowledge, or if the victim has a mental disability. According to Pennsylvania Statutes Title 18 Pa.C.S.A., a person commits a felony of the first degree when the person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant:

  1. By forcible compulsion,
  2. By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution,
  3. Who is unconscious or where the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring,
  4. Where the person has substantially impaired the complainant’s power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants, or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance and,
  5. Who suffers from a mental disability which renders the complainant incapable of consent.

Rape is a first-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.  For rape of a child less than 13 years of age, the maximum imprisonment increases to 40 years and fines of up to $25,000. If the victim is less than 16 years old, the offender faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment. For more information on rape laws in Pennsylvania, visit our resources for victims of rape & sexual abuse.

Deviate sexual intercourse

Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse is defined by Pennsylvania law as intercourse:

  1. By forcible compulsion.
  2. By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution;
  3. With a person who is unconscious or where the person knows that the complainant is unaware that sexual intercourse is occurring;
  4. Where the person has substantially impaired the complainant’s power to appraise or control her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance
  5. Who suffers from a mental disability which renders the complainant incapable of consent;
  1. Is less than 16 years of age and the person is more than four years older than the complainant and the complainant and the person are not married to each other.

If the victim is a child, the charges increase to the following:

  1. Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child — In Pennsylvania, a person may be charged with this offense if they engage in deviate sexual intercourse with a child younger than 13 years of age.
  2. Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child with serious bodily injury — Should the above crime result in injury to the victim, the accused may be charged with this offense depending on the extent of harm/bodily injury.

According to Pennsylvania rape laws, the penalties for involuntary deviate sexual intercourse are as follows:

  1. First degree felony with a maximum 20-year imprisonment. The penalty increases to a maximum 40-year imprisonment if the crime is with a child younger than 13.
  2. Fines up to $25,000.
  3. If there is serious bodily injury to a child younger than 13 years of age, the maximum sentence increases to life imprisonment.
  4. For victim less than 16 years old, mandatory minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment.

Pennsylvania law explains that deviate sexual intercourse includes sexual intercourse with the mouth or anus, between people, and any type of intercourse with animals. Additionally, it refers to penetration, no matter how minor, of another person’s genitals or anus, with a foreign object for any reason besides hygienic, law enforcement, or good faith medical procedures.

Sexual assault

Civil Lawyers for victims of sexual assault in PennsylvaniaThe commonwealth of Pennsylvania defines sexual assault as, “sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse without the complainant’s consent.” The penalties for sexual assault include:

  1. Second degree felony
  2. Maximum 10 years imprisonment
  3. Fines up to $25,000.

It is important to recognize that according to Pennsylvania rape laws, “sexual intercourse” means intercourse with the mouth or anus, with even the slightest penetration. Further, the law specifies that emission is not required.

Statutory Sexual Assault

A person may be charged with statutory sexual assault in Pennsylvania if they engage in the following behavior:

  1. Sexual intercourse with an accuser to whom the person is not married who is under the age of 16 years, and that person is either four years older but less than eight years older than the accuser; or (2) eight years older but less than 11 years older than the accuser.
    1. A conviction for these charges will result in a second degree felony, maximum 10 years imprisonment. Fine of not more than $25,000.
  2. Sexual intercourse with an accuser under the age of 16 years and that person is 11 or more years older than the accuser and the accuser and the person are not married to each other.

A conviction of these charges will result in a first degree felony, maximum 20 years imprisonment, and fines up to $25,000.

For rape of a child younger than 13 years of age, the maximum increases to 40 years imprisonment, and for rape of a child with serious bodily injury, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. If the victim is less than 16 years old, the mandatory minimum sentence increases to ten years imprisonment.

Statutory rape is a serious offense. If you or someone you love is the victim of statutory rape in Pennsylvania, seek legal guidance immediately.

Aggravated Indecent Assault

If you experience penetration, however slight, of your genitals or anus by another person, for a purpose other than law enforcement, good faith medical, or hygienic or procedures you may be the victim of aggravated indecent assault.

Pennsylvania further defines this type of sexual abuse as follows:

  1. The person does so without the complainant’s consent,
  2. The person does so by forcible compulsion,
  3. The person does so by threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution,
  4. The complainant is unconscious, or the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the indecent contact is occurring,
  5. The person has substantially impaired the complainant’s power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants, or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance,
  6. The complainant suffers from a mental disability which renders the complainant incapable of consent,
  7. the complainant is less than 13 years of age; or
  8. the complainant is less than 16 years of age and the person is four or more years older than the complainant and the person and the complainant are not married to each other.

Individuals convicted of aggravated indecent assault face the following penalties:

  1. Second degree felony.
  2. Maximum 10 years imprisonment.
  3. If the victim is a child younger than 13, the charge is upgraded to a first-degree felony with a maximum 20 years imprisonment.
  4. Fines up to $25,000.

It is important to note that if the victim is a child younger than 13, the defendant faces a minimum of five years imprisonment (in some cases this enhancement applies when the victim is less than 16 years of age).

Indecent Assault

A person may be charged with indecent assault in Pennsylvania if they have indecent contact with another person or intentionally cause another person to come in contact with urine, seminal fluid, or feces in order to cause sexual arousal for themselves or the person.

“Indecent contact” is defined as any caressing or touching of the genitals or other intimate parts of another person for the goal of sexual arousal or gratification of any person.

Below is full legal definition of indecent assault in Pennsylvania:

  • The person does so without the complainant’s consent (second degree misdemeanor);
  • The person does so by forcible compulsion (first degree misdemeanor);
  • The person does so by threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution (first degree misdemeanor);
  • The complainant is unconscious, or the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the indecent contact is occurring (first degree misdemeanor);
  • The person has substantially impaired the complainant’s power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance (first degree misdemeanor);
  • The complainant suffers from a mental disability which renders the complainant incapable of consent (first degree misdemeanor);
  • The complainant is less than 13 years of age (see below of sentencing); or
  • The complainant is less than 16 years of age and the person is four or more years older than the complainant and the person and the complainant are not married to each other.  (second degree misdemeanor).

Anyone convicted of indecent assault faces the following penalties:

  1. First degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of not more than $10,000.
  2. Second degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and a fine of not more than $5,000.

While indecent contact with a minor under 13 is typically a first-degree misdemeanor, it becomes a third degree felony if it is the second or subsequent offense, if the defendant has a history of such conduct, or the indecent assault involved touching the victim’s sexual or intimate parts with genitals or intimate parts of the defendant.

Institutional sexual assault

Institutional sexual assault occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with an inmate, detainee, patient or resident, and that person is an agent or employee of the Department of Corrections or a county correctional authority, youth development center, youth forestry camp, State or county juvenile detention facility, other licensed residential facility serving children and youth, or mental health or mental retardation facility or institution.

An Institutional sexual assault conviction will result in the following penalties:

  • Third degree felony
  • Maximum penalty 7 years imprisonment.
  • Fine of not more than $15,000.

Individuals who sexually abuse children or disabled persons that they are supposed to supervise, coach, educate, or assist, must be held accountable. Should you or loved one suffer institutional sexual abuse, consult with a skilled legal counselor as soon as possible.

Sexual assault by sports officials, volunteers or other employees overlooking children

When a person who serves as a sports official in a sports program of a nonprofit association or a for-profit association engages in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with a child under 18 years of age who is participating in a sports program of the nonprofit association or for-profit association, that person is committing sexual assault by a sports official, a third-degree felony in Pennsylvania.

If a person is a volunteer or an employee of a nonprofit association, and they have “direct contact” with an enrolled child under 18 and engage in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with that child, they may be charged with sexual assault by a sports official or volunteer.

This penalties for this offense include:

  • Third degree felony
  • Maximum penalty 7 years imprisonment.
  • Fines up to $15,000.

According to Pennsylvania law, in this context, “direct contact” means care, supervision, guidance or control.

A Civil law firm advocating for sexual abuse victims in Pennsylvania

Andreozzi & Foote, PC fights passionately for victims of sexual abuse within universities, schools, foster care agencies, day care facilities, churches, and many other institutions whose behavior has facilitated sexual assault & abuse from rape & physical violence.

To schedule a free & confidential consultation with an experienced civil attorney at one of our office locations in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia, contact us today.