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Hartford, CT sexual assault defense attorneyOne of the most notorious and discussed news stories about sexual violence on a college campus in recent years is that of Brock Turner, a Stanford University student who was charged with sexual assault in 2016. Though Turner was convicted, he only ended up receiving a sentence of six months in jail, and he only actually served three of those months. This case sparked a great deal of conversation about how sexual assault charges are handled and the potential punishments that college students and others may face in these situations.

Connecticut Laws on Sexual Assault

There are several different degrees of sexual assault that a person can be charged with in Connecticut, and they all carry different consequences. Sexual assault charges in Connecticut are as follows:

  • First-Degree Sexual Assault: This occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person by using force or the threat of force. This is a Class B felony, meaning there is a possible sentence of at least 10 years in prison. A prison sentence can be suspended, but the perpetrator must serve at least two years.
  • Aggravated First-Degree Sexual Assault: This occurs when a person commits first-degree sexual assault and uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon, intends to hurt the victim, displays indifference to human life, or is aided by two or more people. This is a Class B felony, which means the person will be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison. A prison sentence can be suspended or reduced, but the perpetrator must serve at least five years.
  • Second-Degree Sexual Assault: This encompasses a range of different offenses, but one of the most common ways a college student may commit second-degree sexual assault is by engaging in sexual intercourse with a person who is helpless or cannot consent to the intercourse. This is a Class C felony and can result in a sentence of 1 to 10 years in prison. At least nine months of the sentence cannot be suspended or reduced.
  • Third-Degree Sexual Assault: This occurs when a person engages in sexual contact (rather than sexual intercourse) with another person through the use of force. This is a Class D felony and can result in one to five years in prison.
  • Fourth-Degree Sexual Assault: This occurs when a person commits sexual contact with a person who is helpless or cannot consent to the contact. This can result in a Class A misdemeanor charge, which carries a sentence of up to one year in jail.

Other Consequences

Jail time is not the only consequence that comes with a sexual assault conviction or accusation. A person convicted of these charges will also face hefty fines that can range up to $20,000. College students also have other things they should be worried about if they are accused of sexual assault. Many college campuses have adopted zero tolerance policies for sexual violence. A conviction or accusation can result in suspension or expulsion from one’s school, a loss of a scholarship, or other consequences. A sexual assault conviction will also jeopardize a person’s ability to receive student loans and other financial aid, and it can hurt one’s chances of finding a job after college.


sexuaxl assault college, Connecticut sex crimes defense lawyerAllegations of sexual assault on college campuses are sadly not new phenomena, but sex crime defense attorneys across Connecticut are very concerned.  Attention to the subject was heightened by the Rolling Stone magazine piece entitled, “A Rape on Campus,” wherein the author described an existent rape culture at The University of Virginia. The substance of the article was subsequently proven false, and the article was included in a Columbia Journalism Review piece on The Worst Journalism of 2014. Whether the allegations were true or false, the article thrust the issue into the national political limelight. As politicians are prone to do, the response may have gone too far.

Currently moving through the Legislature is a bill that is the cause for concern for experienced Connecticut criminal defense lawyers who focus on sex crimes defense.  The “yes means yes” bill, would require the accused in a sexual assault case in Connecticut colleges and universities to prove that he received  an “affirmative consent” from another individual before proceeding with any form of sexual relations. The definition of “affirmative,” could include both verbal and non-verbal cues. However, the onus would be upon the accused to prove that consent was given in one form or another.

The bill’s proponents contend that passage would eliminate “victim shaming,” or focusing on whether the victim of sexual assault had been drinking or wearing provocative clothes. Detractors believe that the legislation would only lead to greater confusion in relying on verbal and non-verbal cues to determine an appropriate course of action in those situations. Though the University of Connecticut, the University of New Haven and Yale University already have such guidelines in place, Connecticut would join only California in enacting such a statewide law that would shift the burden to the accused to prove that he did nothing wrong on college campuses.

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