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 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. Under Rhode Island law, an unwanted sexual touching short of penetration is called Second Degree Sexual Assault. 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. If this act is committed against a child under the age of 16, it is called First Degree Child Molestation.
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. 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 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.
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.