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What is the Difference Between Rape and Sexual Assault in PA?

Criminal sex offenses differ from state to state and similarly named offenses in different states might refer to different acts. For example, Pennsylvania distinguishes between the offenses of sexual assault and rape. By contrast, a sexual assault in Arizona refers to rape. If you are facing charges of rape or sexual assault in Pennsylvania, it is important for you to understand how these crimes differ so that you can understand your case and the potential penalties you might face. If you are facing any type of sex crimes charge, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney in West Chester, PA at DiCindio Law to learn about how to defend against the case against you.

Regardless of whether you are facing charges of sexual assault or rape in Pennsylvania, a conviction could result in a lengthy prison sentence, sex offender registration, and other serious penalties. Retaining an experienced attorney might help you to avoid the consequences of a sex offense conviction and secure a better outcome.

Rape vs. sexual assault in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, rape is the most serious sex offense charge you can face and is punished more severely than sexual assault. However, both are serious offenses carrying harsh penalties.

What is sexual assault in Pennsylvania?

Sexual assault is defined in 18 Pa.CS 3121.1. Under this statute, you can be charged with sexual assault if you have sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent. Deviate sexual intercourse includes penetrating the anus or genitals of someone else with a foreign object or oral sex without the express consent of the victim.

There are several types of sexual assault that can be charged in Pennsylvania found in different statutes, including statutory sexual assault, institutional sexual assault, and sexual assault by a nonprofit employee, volunteer, or sports official. You can be charged with statutory sexual assault if you engage in sex with someone who is 16 or younger when you are four or more years older than the alleged victim. If your victim is 11 or more years younger than you, a statutory sexual assault can be charged as a first-degree felony.

Institutional sexual assault is found in 18 Pa.CS 3124.2 Under this statute, you can be charged with institutional sexual assault if you engage in sexual intercourse with an inmate or resident while you are working as a corrections officer or in a residential facility with authority over the detainee or resident. Because of the imbalance of power between you and the inmate or resident, you can be charged with this offense even if the alleged victim willingly participated. Others who can be charged under this statute include teachers, child care workers, and law enforcement officers.

Under 18 Pa.CS 3124.3, you can face charges of sexual assault as a sports official, employee, or volunteer of a nonprofit organization if you work at a nonprofit organization, volunteer at a nonprofit organization, or serve as a sports official at a nonprofit or for-profit organization and engage in sexual intercourse with a youth under the age of 18 who is a client of the organization. This offense is a third-degree felony.

Probable Cause vs. Reasonable Suspicion – What Is the Difference?

What is rape in Pennsylvania?

Rape is found in 18 Pa.CS 3121 You can be charged with rape if you use physical force or threats of physical force to compel someone to engage in sexual intercourse or sodomy against their will. You can also be charged with rape if you engage in sexual intercourse with a victim who is unconscious and is incapable of consent. For example, if someone is so intoxicated that he or she has passed out and is unable to consent to sex, you could be charged with rape if you have sex with him or her.

You can also be charged with rape if you administer date rape drugs to the alleged victim to prevent him or her from resisting sexual intercourse. Finally, you can face a rape charge if you have sexual intercourse with someone who is mentally disabled and incapable of consenting to sex.

What are the penalties for sexual assault and rape?

Whether you are facing charges of sexual assault or rape in Pennsylvania, the penalties you might face if convicted will depend on the circumstances and your criminal record. In most cases, a rape conviction will be a first-degree felony. The Commonwealth has three felony levels, and first-degree felonies are the most serious felonies, excluding murders.

If you are convicted of first-degree felony rape, you will face a prison sentence of up to 20 years, a fine of up to $25,000, and mandatory registration as a sex offender. If you are convicted of sexual assault, you will have a second-degree felony on your record. You will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $25,000, and mandatory sex offender registration. If you are charged with statutory sexual assault, it is a second-degree felony. However, it can be elevated to a first-degree felony if the victim is 11 or more years younger than you.

There are many collateral consequences of having a sexual assault or rape conviction on your record. Even after you discharge your sentence, the consequences of your conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. You will likely have trouble finding a job, being approved for housing, or obtaining credit. People who are convicted sex offenders also frequently encounter difficulties in their interpersonal relationships and face stigma from the public. You might also be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life, depending on your offense and the outcome of your sex offender assessment.

Get help from a criminal defense attorney near me

Every sex offense case is different. No matter what you might be facing, getting help from an

experienced sex crimes defense lawyer is a crucial step. At DiCindio Law, we dedicate ourselves to protecting the rights of our clients and build strong defense cases to the charges against them. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation by calling 610-430-3535.

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Michael DiCindio

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