Sexual Assault Law & Legal Definition


Sexual assault refers to an assault of a sexual nature on another person. It can include a wide range of unwanted sexual contact such as rape, forced vaginal, anal or oral penetration, forced sexual intercourse, inappropriate touching, forced kissing, child molestation ,exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls torture of a victim in a sexual manner etc. The actor causes submission of the victim by means that is reasonably calculated to cause submission against the victim's will. Definitions of offences are primarily governed by state criminal laws, which vary by state. It is generally a felony.

Example of a state statute on Sexual Assault

C.R.S. 18-3-402. Sexual assault

(1) Any actor who knowingly inflicts sexual intrusion or sexual penetration on a victim commits sexual assault if:

(a) The actor causes submission of the victim by means of sufficient consequence reasonably calculated to cause submission against the victim's will; or

(b) The actor knows that the victim is incapable of appraising the nature of the victim's conduct; or

(c) The actor knows that the victim submits erroneously, believing the actor to be the victim's spouse; or

(d) At the time of the commission of the act, the victim is less than fifteen years of age and the actor is at least four years older than the victim and is not the spouse of the victim; or

(e) At the time of the commission of the act, the victim is at least fifteen years of age but less than seventeen years of age and the actor is at least ten years older than the victim and is not the spouse of the victim; or

(f) The victim is in custody of law or detained in a hospital or other institution and the actor has supervisory or disciplinary authority over the victim and uses this position of authority to coerce the victim to submit, unless the act is incident to a lawful search; or

(g) The actor, while purporting to offer a medical service, engages in treatment or examination of a victim for other than a bona fide medical purpose or in a manner substantially inconsistent with reasonable medical practices; or

(h) The victim is physically helpless and the actor knows the victim is physically helpless and the victim has not consented.

(2) Sexual assault is a class 4 felony, except as provided in subsections (3), (3.5), (4), and (5) of this section.

(3) If committed under the circumstances of paragraph (e) of subsection (1) of this section, sexual assault is a class 1 misdemeanor and is an extraordinary risk crime that is subject to the modified sentencing range specified in section 18-1.3-501 (3).

(3.5) Sexual assault is a class 3 felony if committed under the circumstances described in paragraph (h) of subsection (1) of this section.

(4) Sexual assault is a class 3 felony if it is attended by any one or more of the following circumstances:

(a) The actor causes submission of the victim through the actual application of physical force or physical violence; or

(b) The actor causes submission of the victim by threat of imminent death, serious bodily injury, extreme pain, or kidnapping, to be inflicted on anyone, and the victim believes that the actor has the present ability to execute these threats; or

(c) The actor causes submission of the victim by threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim, or any other person, and the victim reasonably believes that the actor will execute this threat. As used in this paragraph (c), "to retaliate" includes threats of kidnapping, death, serious bodily injury, or extreme pain; or

(d) The actor has substantially impaired the victim's power to appraise or control the victim's conduct by employing, without the victim's consent, any drug, intoxicant, or other means for the purpose of causing submission.

(e) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2002, p. 1578, § 2, effective July 1, 2002.)

(5) (a) Sexual assault is a class 2 felony if any one or more of the following circumstances exist:

(I) In the commission of the sexual assault, the actor is physically aided or abetted by one or more other persons; or

(II) The victim suffers serious bodily injury; or

(III) The actor is armed with a deadly weapon or an article used or fashioned in a manner to cause a person to reasonably believe that the article is a deadly weapon or represents verbally or otherwise that the actor is armed with a deadly weapon and uses the deadly weapon, article, or representation to cause submission of the victim.

(b) (I) If a defendant is convicted of sexual assault pursuant to this subsection (5), the court shall sentence the defendant in accordance with section 18-1.3-401 (8) (e). A person convicted solely of sexual assault pursuant to this subsection (5) shall not be sentenced under the crime of violence provisions of section 18-1.3-406 (2). Any sentence for a conviction under this subsection (5) shall be consecutive to any sentence for a conviction for a crime of violence under section 18-1.3-406.

(II) The provisions of this paragraph (b) shall apply to offenses committed prior to November 1, 1998.

(6) Any person convicted of felony sexual assault committed on or after November 1, 1998, under any of the circumstances described in this section shall be sentenced in accordance with the provisions of part 10 of article 1.3 of this title.