What Is the Punishment for a Sexual Assault Charge?
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What Is the Punishment for a Sexual Assault Charge?

Sexual assault can have a lasting impact on a survivor’s life in a number of ways, from recovering from the physical injuries associated with the crime to seeking mental health treatment to cope with the emotional damages.

As a result, states across the country impose harsh penalties for perpetrators accused of this crime. By assigning a strict punishment for sexual assault, the criminal justice system hopes that it will dissuade the perpetrator from committing it again and provide justice for the survivor.

punishment for sexual assault

How Do Judges Determine Penalties for Sexual Assault Charges?

When you bring a sexual assault case to criminal court, a judge and jury will listen to the facts of the case, hear the arguments from both attorneys, and examine all applicable pieces of evidence. At the conclusion of the case, the jury will determine whether or not the defendant is guilty of the charges at hand, and will deliver the verdict to the courtroom.

The judge will then determine the sentence based on a number of factors. First, the judge must take into consideration the defendant’s prior criminal history and whether or not he or she accepts responsibility for the crime. The judge will also take into consideration the state and federal laws surrounding the punishments for the crime that the defendant committed.

According to United States federal law, people convicted of sexual assault can serve up to 20 years in prison and may need to pay fines. Federal law also dictates that victims of sexual assault are eligible to collect compensation for the damages they suffered as a result of the crime. This compensation may include medical expenses, therapy, legal fees, and medication.

Examples of Sexual Assault Penalties in the United States

States have the power to dictate the penalties for various types of sex crimes. These punishments may include jail time, fines, probation, and additional penalties, including community service and mandatory registration as a sex offender.

  • In California, misdemeanor sexual assault may result in six months to one year in jail, a fine up to $3,000, probation, and 10-year sex offender registration. For felony sexual assault, a perpetrator can face up to 4 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and lifetime sex offender registration.
  • In Arizona, sexual assault is a class 2 felony punishable by up to 14 years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration. If the perpetrator has one prior felony sexual assault conviction, he or she can face up to 21 years in prison. If two or more prior convictions are present, the perpetrator can face up to 28 years in prison. If the perpetrator intentionally inflicted serious physical injury on the survivor, he or she can face a life sentence.
  • In New York, felony sexual abuse charges can carry prison sentences range from 5 to 25 years for first-degree charges to 1.5 to 4 years in prison for fourth-degree charges. Misdemeanor sexual abuse charges can result in a prison sentence up to 3 months and/or a $500 fine.
  • In Nevada, sexual assault is a class A felony and could lead to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Nevada judges assess a number of factors to determine whether a defendant is eligible for parole, including the presence of substantial bodily harm, the age of the victim, and prior sexual assault convictions.

Why You Need an Attorney for Your Sexual Assault Case

The penalties for sexual assault can be severe, but not all perpetrators receive a conviction for this heinous crime. If you are pursuing criminal charges against the person responsible for your assault, contact a sexual assault attorney as soon as possible.

Your attorney will advise you on your legal pathways following the assault and will conduct an in-depth investigation into the crime in order to build a compelling case in your favor. In addition, your lawyer will be able to assist you in preparing for each step of your case, and can direct you to resources if you need mental health support.

If you have not done so already, contact a sexual assault attorney as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation and discuss your next steps.