Sexual assault is a highly complex crime under Connecticut law. At its most severe, it can be a class A felony, the second most serious class that Connecticut law allows for, but it can also be punished as a mere misdemeanor. This is because Connecticut recognizes four degrees of sexual assault, with first degree being the most serious and fourth degree being the least serious. On top of the different degrees, there are also aggravating or mitigating factors for some of the crimes, things that make them more or less serious.
Degrees of Sexual Assault
Which degree of sexual assault a person is charged with varies depending on a variety of factors. These include things like the relationship between the offender and the victim, the type of force used, the type of sex acts performed, and the age of the victim, among others. For instance, first-degree sexual assault occurs when a person compels another to have sex with him or her either through force or the threat of force against the victim or against another person. However, first-degree sexual assault also occurs when a person has sexual intercourse with a person who is mentally incapacitated to the point where he or she cannot consent, or when a person has sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 13, provided that the offender is more than two years older than the victim.
By contrast, second-degree sexual assault occurs in a variety of situations where the offender is taking advantage of a position of power that he or she has over the victim. Examples include psychotherapists having sex with their patients during a therapy session, or a person having sexual intercourse with someone between the ages of 13 and 16 when the offender is more than three years older than the victim. However, if someone commits something that would ordinarily be second-degree sexual assault, but he or she is helped by two or more others who are present for the assault, then the offense is upgraded to first-degree sexual assault.
Third-degree and fourth-degree sexual assault are very similar to the first and second degrees respectively, with the exception that they involve sexual contact rather than sexual intercourse.
Penalties for Sexual Assault
The penalties for sexual assault vary tremendously based on the degree that is being charged. For instance, first-degree sexual assault can be charged as either a class A or class B felony. As a class A felony, the crime is punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000; it may also bring certain mandatory minimum sentencing requirements. Conversely, fourth-degree sexual assault can be charged as either a class D felony or a class A misdemeanor, which has penalties of up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine. Any person charged with any degree of sexual assault of a person under the age of 16, irrespective of the age difference, is also automatically charged with “Risk of Injury to a Minor” which is a class C felony and in many situations carries definite minimum mandatory periods of incarceration.
With such a complex area of the law, it is important to secure an experienced attorney to help defend your rights. Accusations of sex crimes, let alone being charged with them, can affect the rest of your life. Contact an experienced Hartford sexual assault defense attorney at the Woolf Law Firm, LLC today to learn more about your options. Call [[phone1]] to schedule a consultation.