There are a number of different levels of sexual abuse under DC Law. The different levels include sexual abuse in the first degree, the second degree, the third degree, the fourth degree, and misdemeanor sexual abuse.
The difference between all these offenses is that sexual abuse in the first, second, third, and fourth degrees are all felony offenses and misdemeanor sexual abuse is a misdemeanor offense. Among other legal matters, an experienced DC sexual abuse lawyer is available to guide you through what constitutes sexual abuse and under which degree. Contact a skilled defense attorney to begin your defense in your case.
Under DC law, misdemeanor sexual abuse is defined as engaging in a sexual act or sexual contact with another person, and the person charged with the offense should have knowledge or reason to know that the act was committed without the other person’s permission. That situation is considered to be misdemeanor sexual abuse in DC sexual abuse cases.
Above that, there are four degrees of felony sexual abuse. Sexual abuse in the fourth degree is when a person engages in or causes sexual contact with another person by either threatening or forcing the other person with fear of bodily injury, or if the person knows or should have known that the other person is incapable or incapacitated from consenting to that sexual contact. Fourth degree sexual abuse is commonly seen in situations where the alleged victim is deemed to be incapacitated (not able to say “no”) to sexual contact.
Third degree sexual abuse is when an individual engages in sexual contact with another person by the use of force against that other person or after threatening the other person with bodily injury by means such as kidnapping, by inducing unconsciousness (which can include administering some kind of intoxicant or drug), and then engaging in sexual contact with that person.
In third and fourth degree sexual abuse in DC, the government has to prove that the defendant engaged in sexual contact with another person.
Second-degree sexual abuse and first-degree sexual abuse follow the same distinction of incapacitation and use of force, but the difference between first and second-degree sexual abuse, and third and fourth degree sexual abuse, is the question of sexual contact versus a sexual act. Second and first-degree sexual abuse entails sexual acts.
Sexual contact is defined as touching directly or over the clothing of another person’s intimate parts with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, arouse, or gratify the sexual desires of the person. A sexual act means any type of penetration of another person or contact, or any level of penetration with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, arouse or gratify sexual desire.
In general, the difference between a sexual act and sexual contact is that of penetration, a sexual act requires penetration and sexual contact does not.
The difference between the two is the reason why first-degree sexual abuse and second-degree sexual abuse are considered to be more serious offenses compared to previous degrees.
Having an experienced and committed criminal defense attorney is essential when an individual is facing any level of sexual abuse charge, even a misdemeanor sexual abuse charge can result in very serious consequences.
Having an attorney who understands the different levels of sexual abuse charges and understands how to defend against them, how to mitigate penalties an individual might face, and how to properly investigate them can make the difference between an individual going to prison and being permitted to stay in the community.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can make the difference between having to register as a sex offender and not having to go through certain kinds of restrictions and social embarrassment. Call a DC sexual abuse lawyer today.
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