What Is Classified As Sexual Assault?
If you have been accused of sexual assault, you may wonder exactly how that’s legally defined and what you need to do to protect yourself. Everyone deserves to have someone represent them in court, and you’ll need a Philadelphia criminal defense law firm that will protect you. Before you go to court, it can be a good idea to understand the charges that you have against you. In Pennsylvania, harassment is a crime that is very similar to assault but with one key difference.
Harassment and Assault
Harassment and assault are differentiated by physical contact with a person. Harassment is an unwanted behavior that a perpetrator uses to scare, irritate, or intimidate someone. There are many different forms of it, including emails, letters, phone calls, or verbal threats. If someone threatens someone with a property crime or physical harm, this can be harassment. Harassment is a criminal offense in the state and can result in the perpetrator getting fines as well as jail time. It can also harm the accused person’s reputation and professional standing.
Assault is different because it involves a physical act. Rather than just threatening harm, an assault takes place when someone tries to physically harm someone. This can mean a smaller act like kicking or hitting someone, or it can include using a weapon in the assault. Generally, to be assault, there must be a physical act that was intended to cause someone harm. Sexual assault is unwanted physical behavior that is sexual in nature.
Being accused of a sex crime such as sexual assault can quickly ruin the reputation of the accused. These are sensitive charges that can be highly emotional as well as damaging. In Philadelphia, sexual assault charges can be punished severely. Not only is there jail time on the line but someone convicted of sexual assault will be added to the sex offender database of Pennsylvania. This makes the details of the conviction public to anyone who wants to see it. Once someone’s name goes on the list, the state restricts them from living in certain areas that are near places like parks and schools. The name will remain on the registry for 15 years, but the stigma can go on much longer. Part of the defense of this crime is to work to keep the accused person’s name off this registry.
Sexual assault is classified as anywhere from a third-degree misdemeanor up to a first-degree felony, depending on the circumstances. The lightest sentence is up to a year in jail and a fine as high as $5,000. At the other end of the scale, the fine can be as much as $25,000, and the sentence can be as long as 20 years. There may also be community service and/or counseling required by the court.
Getting an Experienced Lawyer for Sexual Assault
When you’re facing an accusation of sexual assault, you need a Philadelphia assault lawyer to help you through the process and to give you the best defense possible. Call to find out more about what the Brennan Law Offices can do for you.