Sexual abuse can be a serious charge. The media has made the term somewhat normal so it may not elicit the shock that it once did, but at the same time, it has raised awareness of some of the more serious offenses associated with it. Make no mistake though. Sexual abuse can be very serious. In some situations, it can get you life in prison.

There are different types of sexual abuse, some carry harsher penalties than others. They range from misdemeanors to felonies and some charges can have lasting effects on your life. The more serious the charge, the more likely it is to leave you marked.

This is serious.

A sexual abuse charge can follow you for the rest of your life. It is not something that you can hide or ignore. It will be in your face forever. Your employer will know. Your landlord will know. People who look you up on the internet will know. 

As unfair as it is, people will base their impressions of your character on what they know about your past. If you have a sexual abuse conviction lurking in your past, it can affect how they see you and how they interact with you.

That is why it is so important to have good legal representation. A good attorney can potentially lessen the charge or get the charges dropped altogether. They can negotiate plea deals and work for you to ensure that you have your best chance at justice.

So, are you or a loved one facing a sexual abuse charge? Here’s what you need to know.

When You are Facing a Sexual Abuse Charge You Need a Lawyer who will Fight for You

A sexual abuse charge can be very damaging to your reputation and can negatively impact your life in many ways. You need good legal representation to make sure your rights are protected. New York sexual abuse laws are very complex, and any misstep can land you in a lot of legal trouble – possibly more than you deserve. Your best chance is to get an attorney who is educated, experienced, and committed to fighting for you.

Call the Litvak Law Firm. 

Overview of Sexual Abuse Offenses

Sexual abuse is essentially actions committed by a person to coerce or force another person to engage in a sexual act. There are sexual abuse offenses at the federal level as well as at the state level. In some cases, a person can have sexual abuse charges under New York law and federal law.

There are different types of sexual abuse. Aggravated sexual abuse is more serious but when it is committed against children under 12 years of age it can raise the stakes even more. Any crimes against children are taken very seriously and prosecuted very harshly.

Under New York law, sexual abuse is defined as sexual contact without consent. There are three degrees, depending on the severity of the offense which is based on the victim’s ability to refuse or consent by either being a minor or by being physically helpless.

Aggravated sexual abuse under New York law is sexual abuse that includes penetration with a finger or foreign object. There are four degrees to this offense that are dependent upon the victim’s age or ability to consent due to helplessness.

Federal Sexual Abuse Offenses

There are three federal laws that relate to sexual abuse. They apply to persons who are in the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, special maritime jurisdiction, a federal facility, or on federal property. 

Under 18 U.S. Code § 2242 – Sexual abuse it is illegal for anyone in a federal facility such as a federal prison or any institution, prison, or facility that maintains custody of someone under the direction, agreement, or contract of a Federal agency or department to knowingly threaten someone in an effort to force them to engage in a sexual act or to cause them to fear serious bodily injury, death, or kidnapping if they don’t comply. 

It also makes it illegal for that person to engage in a sexual act with someone if that person is not able to understand the act or appraise the nature of the action, or if they are physically unable to refuse to participate. If the victim is not able to communicate that they do not want to engage in the sexual act or any attempts made yet the offender tries anyway, they are in violation of this federal law.

Under 18 U.S. Code § 2243 – Sexual abuse of a minor or ward is illegal, which under the statute means any sexual activity with someone who is 12 years old but younger than 16 years old or if the victim is at least four years younger than the offender. It also applies to a person who is in official detention and is under disciplinary, supervisory, or custodial authority.

18 U.S. Code § 2241 – Aggravated sexual abuse makes it illegal for a person to use force against a person or place them in a position where they fear they will be subjected to injury or death. If the offender renders the victim unconscious and engages in a sexual act or gives the victim, without their knowledge, a drug or other substance that impairs their ability to assess the situation, impairs their judgment, or controls their actions and while the victim is in the impaired state the offender engages in the sexual activity anyway.

This law also covers crossing state lines with children with the intention of engaging in a sexual act with them if that person is younger than 12 years old. There is a separate subsection for offenders who attempt to force a person who is 12 years old or older but younger than 16 to engage in sexual activity by threatening them, using physical force, or drugging them and the offender is at least four years older than the victim.

New York Sexual Abuse Offenses

The state of New York has several laws that relate to sexual abuse:

  • New York Penal Law § 130.55: Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree
    • When a person has sexual contact with another person without that person’s consent, except that in prosecution under this section, it is an affirmative defense that:
      • Such other person’s lack of consent was due solely to incapacity to consent by reason of being less than seventeen years old, and
      • The victim was older than 14 and the offender was less than five years older than the victim.
  • New York Penal Law § 130.60: Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree
    • When a person has sexual contact with another person and that person is:
      • Not legally capable of providing consent for a reason other than they are younger than 17 years old, or
      • They are younger than 14 years old
  • New York Penal Law § 130.65: Sexual Abuse in the First Degree
    • When a person has sexual contact with another person:
      • By forcible compulsion, or
      • The victim is not capable of providing consent because he or she is physically helpless, or
      • The victim is younger than 11 years old, or
      • When the victim is younger than 13 years old and the offender is 21 years old or older
  • New York Penal Law § 130.65a: Aggravated Sexual Abuse in the Fourth Degree
    • The offender inserts a foreign object in the victim’s anus, rectum, penis, urethra, or vagina, and the victim is not capable of providing consent for a reason other than they are younger than 17 years old, or
    • The offender inserts a finger in the victim’s anus, rectum, penis, urethra, or vagina which causes injury to the victim and the victim is not capable of providing consent for a reason other than they are younger than 17 years old
    • NOTE: It is not a violation of this law if the action is performed for a valid medical reason.
  • New York Penal Law § 130.66: Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree
    • The offender inserts a foreign object in the victim’s anus, rectum, penis, urethra, or vagina:
      • By forcible compulsion, or
      • When the victim is physically helpless which makes them unable to provide consent, or
      • When the victim is younger than 11 years old
    • The offender inserts a foreign object in the victim’s anus, rectum, penis, urethra, or vagina causing physical injury to the victim and they are not capable of providing consent because they are mentally incapacitated or mentally disabled.
    • NOTE: It is not a violation of this law if the action is performed for a valid medical reason.
  • New York Penal Law § 130.67: Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree
    • The offender inserts a finger in the victim’s anus, rectum, penis, urethra, or vagina which causes injury to the victim causing physical injury to the victim:
      • By forcible compulsion, or
      • When the victim is physically helpless which makes them unable to provide consent, or
      • When the victim is younger than 11 years old
    • NOTE: It is not a violation of this law if the action is performed for a valid medical reason.
  • New York Penal Law § 130.70: Sexual Abuse in the First Degree
    • The offender inserts a foreign object in the victim’s anus, rectum, penis, urethra, or vagina which causes injury to the victim causing physical injury to the victim:
      • By forcible compulsion, or
      • When the victim is physically helpless which makes them unable to provide consent, or
      • When the victim is younger than 11 years old
    • NOTE: It is not a violation of this law if the action is performed for a valid medical reason.

Penalties for Sexual Abuse Offenders

Federal penalties for sexual abuse charges are somewhat fluid. The sentence should not be greater than what is necessary to serve sentencing purposes. However, prior comparable convictions can increase the sentence.

  • 18 U.S. Code § 2241 – Aggravated Sexual abuse
    • Maximum life in prison
  • 18 U.S. Code § 2242 – Sexual abuse
    • Maximum life in prison
    • Fine 
  • 18 U.S. Code § 2243 – Sexual abuse of a minor or ward
    • Maximum 15 years in prison
    • Fine

New York looks at sex crimes are some of the worst offenses. In fact, many are considered felonies due to their severity.

  • New York Penal Law § 130.55: Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree – Class B Misdemeanor – Maximum 3 months in jail
  • New York Penal Law § 130.60: Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree – Class A Misdemeanor – Maximum 1 year in jail
  • New York Penal Law § 130.65: Sexual Abuse in the First Degree – Class D Felony –  Minimum 3 years in prison to a maximum 7 years in prison
  • New York Penal Law § 130.65a: Aggravated Sexual Abuse in the Fourth Degree – Class E Felony – Minimum 2 years in prison to a maximum 4 years in prison
  • New York Penal Law § 130.66: Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree – Class D Felony – Minimum 3 years in prison to a maximum 7 years in prison
  • New York Penal Law § 130.67: Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree – Class C Felony – Minimum 3.5 years in prison to a maximum of 15 years in prison
  • New York Penal Law § 130.70: Sexual Abuse in the First Degree – Class B Felony – Minimum 5 years in prison to a maximum of 25 years in prison

If other charges are added or if you have previous convictions for sexual abuse, you could be looking at a much harsher sentence with more prison time, fines, and a requirement to register as a sex offender.

Sexual Abuse Defenses

18 U.S. Code § 2243 – Sexual abuse of a minor or ward does provide several defenses to the charge:

  • The offender had a reasonable belief that the victim was at least 16 years old at the time the crime was committed. This must be established by the defendant with substantial evidence 
  • The parties were married to each other at the time the offense took place. This must be established by the defendant with substantial evidence 

The defense may also claim:

  • The victim did indeed consent to the sexual activity
  • The defendant was falsely accused 
  • Mistaken identity
  • The defendant had a mental defect or illness and did not know what he or she was doing at the time or was not capable of understanding right from wrong

The goal of a defense attorney who has a client with a sexual abuse charge is to try to get the charges dropped. If that can’t happen, he or she will usually try to get the charges reduced to a lesser charge and argue for a lower sentence.

If you have been charged with sexual abuse you may be unsure of your next steps. There are a lot of ways a charge like this can go in the court of law – and most of them are pretty bad. You need someone in your corner who understands the complex sexual abuse laws of New York and who has the knowledge, education, and skills to ensure that your rights are protected. You need the Litvak Law Firm on your side. Call today (718) 989-2908 for your free consultation. Don’t wait another minute, call today and get the legal representation that gets you the best outcome possible.