Rhode Island Sexual Assault Lawyer

Sexual Assault Offenses


What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual Assault is a criminal act that refers to unwanted sexual contact.

This offense encompasses virtually all sexual contact to include penetration.

Examples of sexual assault

Examples of sexual assault include touching someone, without their consent, on the buttocks, anus, breasts or genitals such as any part of the penis or vagina, for purposes of sexual gratification.

Sexual Assault may occur by a man against a woman or a man against a man. Though infrequently reported or prosecuted, Sexual Assault can also theoretically occur by a woman against a man or a woman against another woman.

Sexual assault includes touching a person over the clothing as well as under the clothing.

In addition to touching, sexual assault includes unwanted sexual penetration by any means of the mouth, vagina or anus.  Sexual assault may be committed by force, threat of force, or against someone incapacitated and unable to consent to sexual contact.

Incapacitation may exist from an intoxicating substance such as alcohol or drugs, or due to mental illness or disability.

There are three degrees of sexual assault

The charges depend on the activity the defendants engages in with the victim.

First-Degree Sexual Assault

First-degree sexual assault is when one person engages in sexual penetration with another individual under the following circumstances:

  • The defendant, which is not a spouse, knows or has reason to know that the individual has a mental disability, mental incapacitation, or is physically helpless. Examples include someone who is under the influence or a person with a mental disability.
  • Secondly, the defendant uses force or coercion.
  • The defendant uses the element of surprise or concealment to overcome the victim
  • Lastly, the defendant uses a medical treatment for their own arousal or sexual gratification.

The penalty for a first-degree sexual assault conviction is a minimum prison sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. There are also hefty fines. Here is more information about rape by force.

Second- Degree Sexual Assault

Second-degree sexual assault does not have to include penetration. This is also known as indecent assault and battery. A person is charged with second-degree sexual assault if they engage in sexual contact with someone under the following circumstances:

  • The defendant knows or should know of a physical impairment, mental disability, or mental incapacitation of the victim.
  • Secondly, the defendant uses force or coercion.
  • Lastly, if the defendant is a medical provider that uses an examination for their own sexual arousal or gratification.

The law recognizes certain defenses to Indecent Assault and Battery. The most common defense is Consent. This defense provides that Sexual Assault cannot occur where the alleged victim consented to sexual contact with or touching by the alleged offender.

Another recognized defense is Mistake of Fact. This defense may apply either in the absence of or in conjunction with a Consent defense.

Mistake of Fact provides that though the alleged victim may not have actually consented to the sexual touching or contact, the alleged offender mistakenly believed in his or her mind that there was consent.

Mistake of Fact may be established from facts and circumstances surrounding the parties and their sexual conduct.

Examples include, but are not limited to the alleged victim’s statements, actions, clothing, body language and overall demeanor.

Mistake of Fact may also be established by the alleged victim’s failure to express lack of consent, or from past, consensual sexual conduct or relations between the alleged offender and victim.

A second-degree sexual assault conviction in Rhode Island will result in a prison sentence between three and fifteen years as well as hefty fines. In Massachusetts an Indecent Sexual Assault conviction will result in a prison sentence of not more than twenty years.

Second Degree Child Molestation

If this act is committed against a child under the age of 16, it is called Second Degree Child Molestation.

Unwanted sexual penetration under Rhode Island law is called First Degree Sexual Assault.

First Degree Child Molestation

If this act is committed against a child under the age of 16, it is called First Degree Child Molestation.

Read more about child sexual assault.

Sexual Assault Defense: Consent

The law recognizes certain defenses to Sexual Assault. The most common defense is Consent. This defense provides that Sexual Assault cannot occur where the alleged victim consented to sexual contact by the alleged offender.

However, any sexual contact between an adult and child under 16 is legally without consent.

The law provides that persons under the age of 16 our without sufficient experience and mental capacity to consent to sexual contact.

Mistake of Fact

Another recognized defense to sexual assault is Mistake of Fact. This defense may apply either in the absence of or in conjunction with a Consent defense.

Mistake of Fact provides that though the alleged victim may not have actually consented to the sexual contact, the alleged offender mistakenly believed in his her mind that there was consent.

Mistake of Fact may be established from facts and circumstances surrounding the parties’ relationship, statements or conduct, to include sexual conduct, actions and omissions.

Examples of Mistake of Fact

Examples include, but are not limited to, the alleged victim’s statements, actions, clothing, body language and overall demeanor.

Mistake of Fact may also be established by the alleged victim’s failure to express lack of consent verbally and/or physically, or from past, consensual sexual conduct or relations between the parties.

Third-Degree Sexual Assault (Statutory Rape)

Third-degree sexual assault is also known as statutory rape.
Read more about Statutory Rape.

If you have been charged with Sexual Assault

If you have been charged with Sexual Assault, it is important to seek legal representation immediately in order to protect your rights and minimize the impact that a charge of his nature may have on your life.


If you have been charged with sexual assault and need expert legal representation, contact the RI/MA defense attorneys at the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III by email or call today at (401) 351-5100 to schedule a free consultation.