Sexual Offenses

What Are the Different Types of Sex Crimes in PA?

A sex crimes allegation is extremely serious. Even without a conviction, being charged with this type of crime carries a negative stigma that affects your reputation for years to come. If you are facing a sex-related charge, you should consult a sex crime defense attorney as soon as possible. Even though you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, the court of public opinion will likely judge you before all the details come to light. 

An attorney can review the facts of your case and determine whether a valid legal defense applies to your scenario. Depending on your case, we may be able to argue to have your charges reduced or dismissed. 

Pennsylvania’s sex crimes definitions are laid out in the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. These statutes outline the sex crime charges you can face in Pennsylvania and their penalties. Our team has prepared a sex crimes list that includes information about Pennsylvania’s sex offenses and their potential penalty ranges.

Rape

 

Pennsylvania defines rape as sexual intercourse with another person:

  • By forcible compulsion;

  • By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a reasonable person;

  • Who is unconscious or where the actor knows that the person is unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring;

  • Where the actor has substantially impaired the person’s power to appraise or control their conduct by administering, without the knowledge of the person, drugs, intoxicants, or other substances to prevent resistance; or

  • Who suffers from a mental disability that renders them incapable of consent.

Forcible compulsion means the use of physical, intellectual, moral, emotional, or psychological force, both express and implied. 

Pennsylvania considers rape a first-degree felony. The statute also outlines penalties for rape of a child under 13 years of age and rape of a child with serious bodily injury. The rape of a child carries a maximum possible penalty of forty years. Rape of a child with serious bodily injury carries a maximum penalty of a life sentence.

Sexual Assault

For acts that do not fall into the definition of rape, engaging in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with someone without their consent is considered sexual assault. Intercourse means any sexual penetration. Pennsylvania defines deviate sexual intercourse as sexual intercourse between a person and an animal as well as sodomy. Pennsylvania considers sexual assault a felony in the second degree.

Indecent Exposure

Indecent exposure occurs when a person exposes their genitals in any public place or in any place where others are present under circumstances in which they know or should know the exposure is likely to offend, affront, or alarm. If the person knows or should have known the persons present were under 16 years old, indecent exposure qualifies as a misdemeanor in the first degree. If not, indecent exposure qualifies as a misdemeanor in the second degree.

Unlawful Dissemination of an Intimate Image

Unlawful dissemination of an intimate image occurs when a person sends a visual depiction of their current or former sexual or intimate partner in a state of nudity or engaged in sexual conduct with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm that person. This is more commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” If the person depicted in the photo is a minor, the crime qualifies as a misdemeanor in the first degree. If the person depicted in the photo is an adult, the crime qualifies as a misdemeanor in the second degree. 

Sexual Extortion

In Pennsylvania, sexual extortion occurs when a person knowingly or intentionally coerces or causes a person to:

  • Engage in sexual conduct, the simulation of sexual conduct, or a state of nudity; or

  • Make, produce, disseminate, transmit, or distribute any image, video, recording, or other material depicting the person in a state of nudity or engaging in sexual conduct or in the simulation of sexual conduct.

The statute also includes examples of ways someone can commit sexual extortion, including:

  • Harming or threatening to harm the person, the person’s property, or the person’s reputation;

  • Making, producing, disseminating, transmitting or distributing, or threatening to make, produce, disseminate, transmit, or distribute any material depicting a person in a state of nudity, engaged in sexual conduct, or in the simulation of sexual conduct;

  • Exposing or threatening to expose anything that would likely subject a person to criminal proceedings, a civil action, hatred, contempt, embarrassment, or ridicule;

  • Holding out, withholding, or threatening to withhold a service, employment position, or other thing of value; and

  • Threatening to cause or causing a loss, disadvantage, or injury to a family or household member.

Unless certain circumstances exist, sexual extortion in Pennsylvania qualifies as a misdemeanor in the first degree.

Indecent Assault

A person commits indecent assault in Pennsylvania if they: 

  • Make indecent contact with a person, 

  • Intentionally cause the person to have indecent contact with another person, or

  • Intentionally cause the person to come into contact with seminal fluid, urine, or feces for the purpose of arousing sexual desire in the actor or the person.

Additionally, the act must occur:

  • Without the person’s consent;

  • By forcible compulsion;

  • With a  person who is unconscious or the actor knows the person is unaware of the contact;

  • After the actor has impaired the person’s power to appraise or control their conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the person, drugs, intoxicants, or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance

  • With a person who suffers from a mental disability and cannot legally consent;

  • By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a reasonable person;

  • With a person under 13 years of age;

  • With a person who is 16 years of age if the actor is four or more years older and is not married to the person.

Indecent contact means any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire, in any person. If you are charged with indecent assault in Pennsylvania, a sex crimes defense attorney can help determine the level of sentence you are facing.

Conduct Relating to Sex Offenders

Pennsylvania makes it a crime if someone has reason to believe that a sex offender is not complying with the requirements of their probation or parole and they help the sex offender elude law enforcement by:

  • Withholding information from or failing to notify law enforcement about the sex offender’s noncompliance with the requirements of parole or the sex offender’s whereabouts;

  • Harboring or assisting in harboring the sex offender;

  • Concealing or attempting to conceal the sex offender; or

  • Providing false information about a sex offender to law enforcement.

Pennsylvania considers this crime a felony in the third degree.

Sex Crimes Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania

A statute of limitations is the amount of time the prosecution has to file criminal charges against you. Once the statutory period expires, you can no longer face charges for a particular crime. The statute of limitations on sex crimes depends on the charge you are facing. A misdemeanor charge has a statutory limit of two years. A rape charge has a twelve-year statute of limitations. However, if a criminal defendant leaves the state after committing the crime, the statute of limitations will pause until they return.  Some sex offenses against children have much longer statutory periods that do not even begin until the victim reaches the age of 18 years. 

Penalties for Sex Crimes 

In Pennsylvania, a first-degree felony carries the possibility of spending up to twenty years in prison. A second-degree felony carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison, and a third-degree felony carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

A first-degree misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A second-degree misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison, and a third-degree misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison. Additionally, a sex crimes conviction can result in costly fines and mandatory sex offender registration.

Contact a Sex Crimes Attorney at Dusharm Law Today

If you are charged with a sex crime in Pennsylvania, there is no time to waste. You should consult with a qualified sex crimes lawyer about your case right away. A sex crime allegation can start to impact your life almost immediately. Reach out to our team at Dusharm Law so we can review your case and determine what steps to take next. 

With more than fifteen years of experience in criminal defense, Tammy Dusharm has helped clients defeat all types of sex crimes charges. Our team knows that a one-size-fits-all approach will not fit the needs of our clients. Instead, we take time to work with our clients and create a legal strategy to achieve the most favorable outcome in your case. We are committed to giving our clients the highest level of legal representation and making sure you know your constitutional rights. Contact our office today so we can start reviewing your case.