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Understanding Pennsylvania's Sexual Assault Laws

Getting accused of a crime can be a very scary thing. This is particularly true if you are innocent. And while every accusation is frightening, some crimes potentially have far-reaching consequences if you are convicted. Sexual assault crimes fall under this category. Here is what you should know if you are facing sexual assault charges in Pennsylvania.

What Constitutes Sexual Assault?

In Pennsylvania, there are several statutes that relate to sexual assault:

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault occurs when a person has sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse without the victim's consent. If the victim presses charges themselves, they are then the complainant in the ensuing case.

Sexual assault is a second-degree felony. In Pennsylvania, deviate sexual assault is defined as unwanted contact of the genitals with the mouth or anus, penetration with a foreign object outside a medical or law enforcement setting, or sexual intercourse of any kind with an animal.

Indecent Assault

The definition of indecent assault, which is a first-degree felony, is considerably more complicated. Indecent assault occurs when the perpetrator has indecent contact with the victim and causes them to come into contact with bodily fluids with the goal of sexual arousal in either the victim or the perpetrator as well as if:

  • The act is done without consent

  • The act is done with force or coercion

  • The victim is unconscious

  • The perpetrator has drugged or otherwise left the victim under an intoxicating influence and they are unable to fully appraise the situation or resist

  • The victim is mentally impaired

  • The victim is under the age of 13

  • The victim is under the age of 16 and the perpetrator is four or more years older and they are not married to one another


Rape is similar to indecent assault and is also a first-degree felony, but it is typically treated more severely as the rape is committed with violent force typically resulting in great bodily injury or involves the rape of a child.

Statutory sexual assault is another type of sexual assault, but it differs in that the complainant gave their consent rather than being forced. However, a person under the age of 16 in Pennsylvania cannot legally give their consent to another person if that person is four or more years older than they are.

For example, a 16-year old girl can consent to have sex, but not if her partner is a 25-year old man; this would be a case of statutory sexual assault. Statutory rape occurs when a child is under the age of 13. Statutory sexual assault is a second-degree felony while statutory rape is a first-degree felony.

Special Categories

Institutional sexual assault, such as that between an inmate and their jailer, is classified as a third-degree felony. Open lewdness, which is sex in public, is classified as a third-degree misdemeanor. Indecent exposure, such as "flashing," is a second-degree misdemeanor. Charges for these offenses vary depending on the circumstances.

What Are the Penalties if Convicted of Sexual Assault?

The penalties vary widely and depend on the severity of the crime. In Pennsylvania, a second-degree rape is punishable with up to 10 years in prison. Fines are up to the discretion of the judge and based on the severity of the crime. First-degree rape and indecent assault are punishable with up to 30 years in prison and up to $125,000 in fines.

If a defendant is found guilty of a sexual assault, indecent assault, rape, or certain other sex crimes, they will be required to register as a sex offender for life. This can have dramatic adverse effects on everything from future employment to where you can live.

What Should You Do if You Are Charged with a Sexual Assault?

Getting charged with a sex crime can be terrifying. Don't let your fear or extenuating circumstances prevent you from seeking the best defense for yourself. If you have been charged with a sex crime, it is imperative you contact us immediately. Your freedom as well as your reputation are at stake. Get in touch with Kalasnik Law Office today for assistance with your case.

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