It is always stressful to be charged with a crime. The possibility of fines, jail time, and other consequences can loom above your ability to make decisions and continue with your life. Being charged with sexual assault is especially stressful because, in addition to consequences such as incarceration and fines, you face addition to the National Sex Offender Registry, which can severely impact your ability to get a job, find an apartment, or maintain a relationship.
To mount a successful defense, it is important that you act quickly to secure the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney. The Philadelphia sexual assault lawyers from Young Marr & Associates are prepared to defend residents of Bucks County from sexual assault charges. With decades of experience, they are able to ensure that their clients are treated fairly throughout the criminal justice process while crafting a defense and negotiating penalties. Contact them today if you are facing charges of sexual assault in Bucks County, PA. Call (866) 781-4058 to learn more.
Sexual Assault and Related Crimes
According to Pa. Cons. Stat. §3124.1, sexual assault occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse (or deviate sexual intercourse) with another person without their consent. It does not matter if the victim and the defendant are married. It’s important to note that the charge of sexual assault is distinct from the charge of rape, although they are similar in nature. According to Pa. Cons. Stat. §3121, rape occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse with a victim and uses or threatens to use force, uses a substance to make the victim more compliant, or takes advantage of a victim who is unconscious or unable to consent due to a mental disability.
There are two similar charges that defendants should be aware of: statutory sexual assault and institutional sexual assault. Statutory sexual assault happens when a person over the age of 16 engages in sexual intercourse with someone who is under the age of 16 (outside of marriage). Institutional sexual assault occurs when an employee or agent of an institution that serves youth — such as a correctional facility, youth development center, juvenile detention center, or other residential facility — engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a resident, patient, or detainee.
Penalties for Sexual Assault in Bucks County, PA
In Pennsylvania, both sexual assault and statutory sexual assault are second-degree felonies. The penalties for this level of crime may be, at most, 10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines. In severe cases, sexual assault may, however, be a first-degree felony; the penalties for a first-degree crime may be 20 years in prison or $100,000 in fines.
Institutional sexual assault is a third-degree felony, which carries penalties of 7 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. The penalty for each type of crime will depend on the type of assault that occurred, the presence of aggravating factors, and the victim’s level of emotional and physical damage.
The Pennsylvania Sex Offender Registry
Often, the greatest consequence faced by people that have been convicted of sexual assault is the addition of their personal information to the National Sex Offender Registry. There are three tiers to the Sex Offender Registry: Tier I lasts for 15 years and includes people that have been convicted of sexual assault, as well as other offenses such as corruption of minors or unlawful restraint. Tier II lasts for 25 years; institutional sexual assault and statutory sexual assault are both included in this tier, though it is possible for institutional sexual assault to be included in Tier I and statutory sexual assault to be included in Tier III – a lifetime registration.
The Sex Offender Registry can be searched at any time by members of the public. This means that current employers, potential employers, landlords, family members, romantic interests, members of your social network, and those in your community will have access to information about your charges. When someone searches the registry, they will not only have access to your name and crime but also your date of birth, address, license plate number, place of work or education, conviction date, and details about the offense. It will also include photographs and a physical description of you, including any markings such as tattoos and scars.
Possible Defenses for Sexual Assault in Bucks County
There are a few possible ways that sexual assault charges can be successfully defended against. One of them is consent; if the defendant can prove that the victim gave consent for the act that the defendant carried out, the case may be dismissed. It is also possible to use the defense of mistaken identity if it can be proven that the victim believed that the defendant was someone else; in cases of statutory rape, this may apply if the defendant believed that the victim was of legal age. In rare cases, involuntary intoxication (e.g., being surreptitiously drugged without the defendant’s knowledge) is a permissible defense, as is insanity.
Get in Touch with a Bucks County Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer Today
The lawyers that work with Young Marr & Associates believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and that you deserve dignity and respect while navigating our criminal justice system. They can put their experience and practical knowledge toward defending you against your sexual assault charges. Understand that these charges can have an impact on your access to opportunities for the rest of your life. Call (866) 781-4058 to learn more about scheduling a free and private consultation today.