Is sexual assault a felony?

The Appalachian State University’s Sexual Assault Prevention Center classifies sexual assault as, “the sexual exploitation, forcible penetration, or an act of sexual contact on the body of another person, male or female, without his or her consent,” including rape, molestation, masturbation and coercions. However, sexual assaults have several levels—called “degrees”—of severity that affect conviction and punishment.

Degrees and Punishments of Sexual Assault

These degrees, much like degrees of murder, vary depending on violence, intent, and outcomes, and can be either classified within a felony class or as a misdemeanor.

1st Degree

These are Class B felonies. Conviction means a sentences not to exceed 60 years in prison:

  • Sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person that has been committed without consent, or has been forced on another person by use of a dangerous weapon or threat of harm.
  • Assault is aided or abetted by one or more other persons by use of force, threats, or violence, without consent
  • Sexual contact or sexual intercourse with or without consent with a person under the age of 13.

2nd Degree

Each of these is a Class C felony. The punishment is a fine not to exceed $100,000, and imprisonment that may not exceed 40 years:

  • Sexual contact without consent, by use of threats, force or violence, which causes injury, including illness, disease or impairment of a sexual or reproductive organ, or mental anguish requiring psychiatric care for the victim.
  • Sexual contact with a person who cannot legally give consent at the time of the incident, such as someone who suffers from a mental illness, was intoxicated, or was unconscious during the incident
  • Sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person who is a patient, employee, subordinate or resident of the facility or program in which the defendant works.

3rd Degree

This is a Class G felony, punishable by a fine not to exceed $25,000 and by imprisonment for a period that may not exceed 10 years (the maximum term of confinement may not exceed five years and extended supervision may not exceed five years):

  • Sexual contact (not intercourse) involving ejaculation without the consent of that person

4th Degree

These are Class A misdemeanors, punished with a fine not to exceed $10,000 or imprisonment not to exceed nine months in the county jail, or both:

  • Sexual harassment, stalking, or lewd behavior toward another person without the consent of that person
  • Sexual intercourse with a person 16 or 17 years old

No matter the degree of accusation, a sexual assault conviction can have dire consequences on your future. Do not allow a false accusation to ruin the rest of your life. Contact us today to discuss your case and allow us to convince you how our experience, diligence, and dedication can help you get the justice you need to prevent a life altering conviction. Although the circumstance may seem bleak, the next step is clear: call now for the help you need and the support you deserve.

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