What is First Degree Sexual Assault?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 06 February 2020
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There are various types of sexual assault of which a person may be convicted, and first degree sexual assault is the most serious of these crimes. A person commits sexual assault by having sexual intercourse with someone else without the victim’s consent or while threatening the victim with a weapon. Assisting or encouraging an assault may also lead to these charges. In some places, all types of sexual assault against a minor are considered first degree; in others, this designation is reserved for cases in which a child requires surgery for injuries sustained in the assault. Both men and women can be charged with this crime.

In many jurisdictions, first degree sexual assault is a crime in which a party has sexual intercourse or contact with a victim without his or her consent and causes the assault victim serious physical harm as a result. A person may also be guilty of sexual assault if he has intercourse with his victim and impregnates her. In some places, a person can also be found guilty of this crime if he threatens his victim with a weapon or another item the victim believes can inflict serious harm. Additionally, some jurisdictions consider all types of sexual assault against a minor under this designation.

The definition of serious physical harm caused by sexual assault may differ from place to place. Often, however, it means permanent disfigurement or impairment of any part of the body. Additionally, harm is considered serious if it puts the victim's life at risk. Likewise, if the harm affects a child and requires surgical repair, it fits the definition of serious harm required for this charge.

Sometimes, a person can even be guilty of first degree sexual assault without physically touching the victim. In some jurisdictions, helping a person to commit this crime may also lead to this charge, as can simply encouraging the crime.

The penalty for first degree sexual assault varies from place to place, but in most cases, it is punishable with many years in prison. A person may receive a stiffer sentence if he or she is a repeat offender or committed other crimes in conjunction with the sexual assault. For example, if a person kidnaps the individual he or she assaults, this may lead to a longer sentence.

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Post 2

My cousin was a victim of first degree sexual assault, but originally the police weren't sure what the attacker's charges should be. He didn't actually have sexual intercourse with her, but he did threaten her with a weapon and assault her physically. The fact that she was seventeen years old at the time, however, did make it an automatic first degree sexual assault in our state.

Post 1

I've heard that one of the hardest elements to prove in a first degree sexual assault case is a lack of consent. The victim may say he or she told the assailant "NO", but the attacker may tell a different version of the story. The victim may have resisted the attacker's sexual advances at first, but then changed his or her mind and consented to the sexual act. It's the consent that matters, not the circumstances.

I think many domestic violence cases involving sexual assault should be considered first degree. Just because there's a relationship between the victim and the attacker doesn't mean it can't be considered rape.

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