Federal sexual assault crimes: What is aggravated sexual assault?

Every year, thousands of American citizens receive sexual assault accusations against them. Often these allegations are merit-less and exaggerated to some extent but most of them are merit-based.

Sexual harassment and actual accusation come under sexual assault and the consequences leading after sexual assault can easily jeopardize the reputation of the accused. Before discussing further, how a sexual accusation can turn the life upside down of the accused let’s understand what is aggravated sexual assault?

If a person has been accused of aggravated sexual assault, then it is very important to understand that the situation is very grave and your whole future is in jeopardy if you do not come out clean. The first thing you need to do is to protect your life and your future. 

Let’s have a look at aggravated sexual assault in detail to have a better understanding in order to deal with it.

What is aggravated sexual assault?

Aggravated sexual assault means sexual intrusion or penetration from another person but in a non-consensual way. This can be in the form of rape) anal or vaginal), penetration by any kind of foreign object, or forced copulation.

There are numerous ways in which sexual assault is proven. Some of them are:

  • Engaging in a certain sexual activity with a person who is unconscious, incapacitated, or even high on drugs or intoxicated that he cannot give his consent regarding the sexual activity.
  • Forcing the person to be submissive to the sexual activity without his written or verbal consent.
  • Involving in sexual activity while knowing perfectly that the victim believes him to be his spouse or significant other and is blinded by this information.
  • Performing sexual acts inappropriately under the false presentation of medical examination or treatment.

If the crime is aggravated sexual assault, then there are a few aggravating factors that get involved in the case automatically. They are:

  • If the victim’s age is 14-year-old or less
  • If the victim is 15 or 16 years old but is at least 10 years younger than the accused perpetrator.
  • A person helped in carrying out the sexual assault
  • The victim underwent any kind of physical injury
  • The perpetrator is known for violent crimes in the past
  • Dangerous or deadly weapons were involved during the sexual assault.
  • The accused perpetrator was on parole, probation, or a bond or was serving time in jail for any felony at the time of the sexual assault.
  • At the time of the sexual assault, the victim was already pregnant.

If any of these factors are proven for aggravated sexual assault then the punishments are much harsher compared to sexual assault.

Sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault as a federal sex crime

Sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault are two different types of federal sex crimes. Sexual assault is tried and contested under federal law whereas the aggravated sexual assault cases need to take place within the boundaries and geographies where the federal government can get involved, such as:

  • Federal lands like military bases or military installations which are recognized lawfully under the American Indian territory, or territorial jurisdictions of the United States of America or any other special maritime that comes under U.S territory.
  • Going out of a single state. This means that the sexual assault has occurred within a state, then the state or the local body has the authority to prosecute the case and file for jurisdiction according to the local government and laws of the said state.
  • In a prison that lies within the jurisdiction of the federal government. Apart from prison, it can be any institution, facility, or any prison that holds different parties within custody according to a contract or an agreement. It is a must for the said location to be in lieu of the federal agency or department.

There are many other federal sex crimes listed apart from sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. There are cases that revolve around minors and children, for instance, sexual assault of a child, or rape of a young child, sexual exploitation of a kid, child pornography, possession of pornography, sharing child pornography content with others, transporting and trafficking children across domestic and international borders, sharing of information about children with others with an intention of using them further in providing sexual excitement and arousal, etc.

The federal sex crime which does not revolve around children and minors may include sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, human trafficking, sexual offenders, more than one kind of sexual offense, and many other sexual crimes which are not limited to a single state of the United States of America.

Aggravated sexual assault by threat or force

The federal law defines sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault to be conducted forcible and has to be non-consensual. 

The accused must have used force against the victim or the individual who did the sexual assault must have threatened the victim by imposing fear or giving her any kind of serious injury, kidnapping her, or threatening her to kill. 

The examples of aggravated sexual assault can also include more than one individual. There could be a group of people who tried to kidnap the victim or impose fear on him/her or physically threaten them by any kind of dangerous weapon, threatening them verbally to kill them if they do not comply or in simple words tried to use coercion or physical bodily force.

Is aggravated sexual assault considered a felony?

Sexual assault falls into three different degrees or categories. The first and second-degree sexual assault is actually incorporated with the crime of aggravated sexual assault. It means that the crimes involved might be of any offensive aggravating factors which are mentioned above.

If such a thing is observed then the case automatically falls into the first or second category.

The first-degree and the second-degree aggravated sexual assaults are considered as felonies.

Third-degree sexual assault is considered a misdemeanor.

The penal code for aggravated sexual assault

Aggravated sexual assault is considered a felony of class 2 generally. The penalty for aggravated sexual assault largely depends upon the circumstances revolving around a case to have a better understanding of whether it will be considered as an assault of first degree or second degree.

Usually, first-degree sexual assaults are those where there is an involvement of dangerous or a deadly weapon such as a knife or a gun.

Second-degree sexual assaults do not have the involvement of any dangerous or deadly weapon.

In the first-degree sexual assault case, it means that the defendant has used any kind of deadly or dangerous weapon to forcefully cond7ct a rape or sexual assault. It is also termed as a crime of violence.

The penalty for a first-degree sexual assault might include:

  • A fine between $5000 to $1000,000.
  • As much as 16 years or life imprisonment
  • The defendant will be registered as a sex offender.

For the second-degree sexual assault case, it means that the defendant did not use any deadly or dangerous weapon to sexually assault the victim without consent. 

The penalty for a second-degree sexual assault may include:

  • A fine of somewhere between $5000 to $1,000,000.
  • The defendant may get registered as a sex offender
  • Jail imprisonment between 8 to 24 years.

What will happen if a minor is charged with aggravated sexual assault?

There are some modifications if a minor is charged for aggravated sexual assault but the responsibilities for a person almost remain the same.

According to the law, a person who is above the age of 18 is responsible for his actions and conducts. When it comes to minors between the ages of 10 to 18, the responsibilities remain more or less the same except for some modified ones that come under the provisions of the children’s code.

The court will not convict any minor under the age of 19 to be guilty of any kind of criminal offence.

If a minor is charged with aggravated sexual assault, then the case will be directed to the juvenile court. However, cases with serious conditions are tried in adult criminal courts.

For instance, if a direct filing has been made into a district court, that means that the minor will be tried in an adult court and he will be sentenced as an adult only.

But if there has been a filing of a certain petition, then the case will be tried in a juvenile court accompanied by investigations, hearings, pleas, etc.

If the case is tried in a juvenile court, then it is mandatory to have an adjudicatory trial within the time frame of 60 days if for any reason the case is not resolved.

if the juvenile court finds the minor “not guilty” for the charges of aggravated sexual assault then that is an automatic end to the case and all the proceedings are halted. But if the minor is found guilty of the crime, then the case will be further referred for adjudication. It also means that the accused will receive a sentence or the sentence will be deferred to them.

After the adjudication, a presentence investigation will be conducted to determine the actual verdict of the case. It is mandatory to give out a final verdict within 45 days of the adjudication trial.

How a defendant can combat the accusation of aggravated sexual assault?

There are many ways to combat the charges and allegations against a defendant which are of sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault.

A person can devise the best defense strategy for himself according to the circumstances surrounding his case.

It is very important to analyze the validity of the charges against the person. Take help from a seasoned and experienced attorney to analyze the validity of the charges.

It is a common factor to falsely accuse people of sexual assault, abusing the power of the judiciary in the country. There can be various reasons to falsely accuse a person from mischaracterization to misidentification of the victim etc.

Unfortunately, some allegations are so perturbing that they reach a malicious intent by the victim who has lived the alleged crime.

A person needs to defend himself for such a heinous allegation if there is a lack of evidence against him. An experienced attorney will work out within his boundaries in creating a strong case for you to defend if you have not committed the heinous crime as there is no evidence against you. 

Lack of evidence potentially means that you are clear of all the accusations and allegations.

Another tactful strategy to defend the accusation is mental incapacity. If the lawyer you hired can prove in the court during the trial that you are mentally unstable or have limitations mentally that can prevent you from making any judgments or coherent choices then the verdict can come out in your favor or at least you would not be facing the maximum penalties according to the law for aggravated sexual assault.

Another way of defending the accusation in court is to prove that the sexual interaction was indeed consensual. 

Most sex crimes occur due to lack of consent and that is one of the key factors that go against the defendant. 

If the defendant can determine in the court that the plaintiff was in fact of full consent to have the sexual activity then the allegations against you are dismissed or in some cases reduced.

It is very difficult to prove in the court that the sexual activity was consensual but experienced and skillful attorneys do know how to spin around the case and make their client come out of the situation as a winner.

Final verdict

To know the punishment and penalties for sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault it is very important to understand the difference between the two terms. Apart from this, it is very important to have complete knowledge about what is aggravated sexual assault? This will help you make a stronger case to get the defendant to get the maximum penalty and if you are someone who is wrongly accused then this understanding will help you make your defense stronger in the case so that all the accusations and false allegations against you can be dismissed.

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