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Various Types of Sexual Assault & the Legal Consequences

We see it all too often in television shows and movies—sexual assault can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. So, too, can legal charges of various types of sex crimes. If you have been accused of sexual assault, finding a criminal defense attorney that specializes in this type of case is vital. The details of the accusation, together with the exact charge brought against you, make a significant difference in your defense. Our law office in Nashville is here to help you understand your situation.

What is Sexual Violence?

The term “sexual violence” is an all-encompassing, non-legal term that refers to crimes like sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse. As defined, sexual violence is any form of sexual contact performed without the victim’s consent—this can be done by force, coercion, or manipulation. Each form of sexual violence carries its own unique definition and consequences, as we’ll cover below. 

Rape vs. Sexual Assault

Rape and sexual assault are often used interchangeably when referring to sexual violence, but the two definitions actually differ in meaning. Each state defines rape in different terminology, but in Tennessee, rape is defined as forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. In contrast, sexual assault is referred to as unwanted sexual conduct that stops short of rape or attempted rape (sexual touching and fondling).

There are numerous ways in which rape is categorized, including:

  • Aggravated Rape: Similar to rape, aggravated rape is when the culprit injures the victim before, during, or after an unwanted sexual encounter with a weapon or object of opportunity. Aggravated rape is a Class A felony under TN law and carries a punishment of up to 60 years in jail and a $50,000 penalty.
  • Child Rape: Child rape is defined as the rape of a child aged 4-12 and carries a 25-year jail sentence. If the child is under four years old, this becomes an aggravated rape case and carries a life sentence without parole. 

Statutory Rape

Statutory rape relates to the rape of a teenage victim and is broken down into four categories;

  • Mitigated Statutory Rape: The victim is aged 15-17, and the culprit is at least four years older.
  • Statutory Rape: The victim is aged 13-14, and the culprit is 4-10 years older, or the victim is 15-17 and the culprit is 5-10 years older.
  • Aggravated Statutory Rape: The victim is aged 13-17, and the culprit is 10+ years older.
  • Statutory Rape by an Authority Figure: The victim is 13-17, and the culprit is 4+ years older and in a position of trust or power (parent, teacher, legal guardian, etc.)

This is a Class E sexual assault felony that can result in up to six years in jail with a fine of up to $3,000. Aggravated statutory rape may be a Class D (up to 12 years and $5,000 fine) or Class C (up to 15 years and $10,000 fine).

Sexual Battery

Sexual battery is another charge where a criminal defense attorney in Nashville will be needed to fight for the best possible outcome in your case. It is defined as the intentional touching of the victim’s intimate body parts for sexual arousal or gratification. Whether the victim is clothed or not, the inappropriate touching is classed as a sexual battery offense.

It is a Class E felony that covers force, coercion, or an incapacitated victim. The offense becomes aggravated sexual battery if it causes a physical injury to the victim or if the victim is aged 12 or under. In this case, it becomes a Class B felony (up to 30 years in jail and a $25,000 fine).

Meanwhile, sexual battery by an authority figure is when a victim is aged 13-17, and the culprit is in a position of trust or power. It is considered a Class C felony.

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