Statistics show that an American is the victim of sexual assault every 73 seconds.

However, sexual assault is a broad term. It encompasses offenses of varying severity.

First degree sexual assault is one of these subcategories. It is usually the most severe type of sexual assault.

Read on to learn more about what first degree sexual assault is

What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is defined as any form of sexual contact that is unwanted and takes place without permission.

It should be distinguished from sexual harassment. This offense relates to the making of unwanted sexual comments or advances.

While this type of harassment is illegal, and potentially very traumatic for a victim, it is considered less serious than sexual assault as it does not involve physical contact.

There are a number of categories of sexual assault, although precise specifications for each vary from state to state. Categories will generally include varying degrees of rape and sexual assault, as well as incest, sodomy, and statutory rape.

What Constitutes First Degree Sexual Assault?

The actions that can constitute first degree sexual assault vary from state to state.

On a general level, first degree sexual assault will usually be characterized by sexual penetration in one or more of the following circumstances:

  • The other party to the conduct is under a given age, often 16
  • The other party is related to the purported offender
  • Physical force or coercion is used
  • The other party has a condition which renders them unable to give valid consent, such as mental incapacity

Penetration is generally required for sexual assault in the first degree. Sexual contact that does not involve penetration will usually give rise to a charge of a lesser degree.

In some states, first degree sexual assault is called rape or first degree sexual abuse.

What You Should Do If You Have Been Assaulted

Sexual assault is a hugely traumatic experience for anyone.

If it has happened to you, your first priority should be to seek healthcare advice from a professional. There are many services for psychological support for those who have been the victims of sexual abuse.

Seeking legal advice should also be a priority for you. Bringing the person who assaulted you to justice is an important step.

By bringing a civil claim against your attacker, you can receive monetary compensation for the psychological trauma caused by the event. If your attacker was assisted in any way by an organization (such as a church or scout group), they may also be liable to pay damages.

Check out this resource to learn more about sexual assault laws, and how you should go about making a claim.

Stay Informed

First degree sexual assault is a serious crime. If you have been affected by sexual crime, or someone you know has, make sure to seek the help you need.

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