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What Are the Penalties for a Sexual Assault Charge in Pennsylvania?

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The state of Pennsylvania takes sexual crimes seriously. If someone is convicted of such a crime, they can face severe consequences. As with many aspects of the law, a considerable vocabulary can be confusing. But if you suspect your child has been abused, understanding the terms and their legal definitions is essential in building a case against the abuser. Read on for what you need to know, and consider working with an attorney experienced in this area.

What Is Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania recognizes multiple categories of sexual assault depending on the crime’s severity and the victim’s age.

The assault of a minor tends to carry more severe punishments.

  • Sexual assault. This occurs when someone has sexual intercourse with someone else and does so without that person’s consent.
  • Deviate sexual assault. This is a form of sexual assault that also involves forcing the victim to make contact with the attacker’s genitals with the victim’s mouth or anus (against the victim’s will) or if the attacker uses a foreign object to penetrate the victim in circumstances other than a legal medical or law enforcement procedure, again against the victim’s will. 
  • Involuntary deviate sexual assault. This is deviate sexual assault in which the victim was unconscious or otherwise unaware intercourse was happening, including people with mental disabilities or impaired in some way, such as with alcohol. 
  • Indecent assault. This can be complicated to describe, but essentially, it’s a form of assault that doesn’t necessarily include full intercourse but usually includes forcing the victim to have contact with sexual fluid or bodily waste (urine or feces). Sometimes, the victim is unconscious (potentially drugged), or the act is done with force or coercion. If the victim was given alcohol to the point that they could no longer make informed consent, that could be considered indecent assault. 
  • Aggravated indecent assault. This is a more serious form of indecent assault that involves penetration, no matter how slight, of the victim’s genitals or anus. 
  • Rape. This is usually indecent assault with the addition of violent force used to perpetrate the attack, with the level of force used being severe enough to cause significant bodily harm to the victim. It’s also considered rape if a child is the victim. 
  • Institutional Sexual Assault. Under Pennsylvania Law, certain institutional employees, including “employee[s] or agent[s 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,” schools, childcare facilities, and peace officers, are not covered under the age of consent law. These employees cannot legally engage in consensual sex while in their official capacity, regardless of age.

What Are the Penalties for Being Convicted of Sexual Assault in Pennsylvania?

The penalties for sexual assault convictions vary based on several factors, including the victim’s age and whether or not the attacker had a previous record. Some crimes are tried as misdemeanors, while others are tried as felonies, influencing outcomes.

What follows are just guidelines for what might happen to a first-time offender, but again, specifics can vary as each case is unique.

  • Sexual assault. This is a second-degree felony, which can result in up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
  • Deviate sexual assault. This is a second-degree felony, which can result in up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
  • Involuntary deviate sexual assault. This is a first-degree felony that can result in up to 20 years in prison. If the intercourse occurred after the attacker gave the victim a date-rape drug, that prison sentence could increase by ten years. If the victim was a child, it could result in life in prison.
  • Indecent assault. This is usually charged as a misdemeanor unless the victim is under 13. As a misdemeanor, a conviction could lead to seven years in jail and up to a $15,000 fine. A felony conviction can lead to 10 years in jail and up to a $20,000 fine.
  • Aggravated indecent assault. This is a second-degree felony when inflicted on someone over the age of consent and a first-degree felony when done to someone under 13. A second-degree felony can result in up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. A first-degree felony can result in up to 25 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
  • Rape. This is a first-degree felony and can result in up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. If the victim is 12 years old or younger, it could be charged as child rape and face even more severe consequences under child molestation laws.
  • Institutional Sexual Assault. Institutional Sexual Assault is a Felony of the Third Degree, which carries a possible maximum term in prison of not more than seven years and up to a $15,000.00 fine.

What Is the Age of Consent in Pennsylvania?

This is a question with a somewhat complicated answer. Technically, the age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16. However, a 16-year-old’s sexual partner can’t legally consent to have sex with someone who’s four or more years older. So, if a 16-year-old gave consent to have sex, but it was with a 21-year-old, the 21-year-old could be charged with statutory sexual assault. This can be either a second-degree or first-degree felony in Pennsylvania, which results in either up to 10 years or 25 years in prison, respectively, and up to a $25,000 fine in either case. Also, those in certain employment roles listed above can be charged with Institutional Sexual Assault if they have sexual contact with a victim of any age while in their official capacity.

What Should I Do if My Child May Have Been the Victim of Sexual Assault?

Call Andreozzi + Foote at 866-311-8640 for a free, confidential consultation. We understand how harrowing this is for a parent. Our primary goal is to hold accountable any organizations that didn’t do their utmost to protect your child from a predator. While many groups and organizations take child safety seriously, unfortunately, others are more lax. We can help identify what went wrong and hold those organizations accountable in a civil case as you work with a prosecutor or district attorney to handle the criminal case.

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