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What is Second Degree Sexual Assault?
Everything You Need to Know

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Sexual assault is defined as any act of sexual activity without a person's consent. An act perpetrated with the use of force, the threat, or the use of a position of authority, a person's incapacity, if a person is physically helpless or mentally incapacitated.

Our attorneys at Schmidt&Clark have dealt with various second-degree sexual assault cases, so they helped us understand what this type of sexual assault refers to and what the victim and the accused can expect from our legal system. 

Summary of the Key Findings

  • Second-degree sexual assault is a serious crime
  • The development of a story is the first step in constructing a good defense in a sexual assault case
  • The sentence depends on different factors

What is the Definition of Sexual Assault?

A person holding someone's hand forcefullyThe definition of sexual assault is physical, psychological, or emotional abuse performed on a person without their consent in the form of a sexual act. Although the statute has concrete definitions for sexual assault, a person commits sexual assault if they act in two distinct ways. 

Accused is guilty if he/she intentionally subjects another individual and engages in sexual contact, which is touching another person and their body part or intimate areas - breasts, bottoms, genitalia - for the purpose of sexual enjoyment without permission. "Consent" refers to a verbal or nonverbal agreement of a person to engage in sexual activity.

The second criterion is that the person should be unable to agree for any reason other than the fact that he or she is a minor under the age of seventeen.

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Situations that Constitute Second-Degree Sexual Assault

Second-degree sexual assault is committed when the perpetrator:

  • By forcible compulsion, initiates and engages in sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person.
  • Uses violence to engage in sexual contact or sexual intercourse that results in disease, damage, or mental suffering that necessitates psychiatric therapy for a person.
  • Engages in sexual intercourse or sexual contact with another person who is physically helpless, mentally defective, or mentally incapacitated and thus unable to agree. Physically helpless as a person incapable of avoiding sexual intercourse, such as an unconscious person.
  • Being 18 years old and engaging in sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a person under 14.
  • Is a teacher, a school employee, administrator, athletic coach, or counselor in a public or private kindergarten who utilizes his or her position of trust or power over the victim and engages in sexual contact with an enrolled student who attends a public or private school and is under the age of twenty-one (21) years.

“Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every 9 minutes, that victim is a child. Meanwhile, only 25 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.” - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

Possible Lines of Defense

A lawyer's gavel with books in the backgroundThe development of a story is the first step in constructing a good defense in a sexual assault case. Some charges can be completely fabricated or exaggerated. However, it is critical to thoroughly research your case and seek out all relevant facts and testimony in order to construct an authentic narrative for the jury that depicts the case's motives and details.

A claim of real innocence is the most basic defense in prosecution. A defendant may argue that they were in another location at the time of the alleged crime and hence could not have done it. This is referred to as providing an "alibi." To build an effective alibi defense, the defendant must present compelling evidence that they were not with the victim at the moment the crime was committed.

Defendants in these cases will sometimes acknowledge the offense but argue with the victim's consent. Sexual behavior should happen against the claimed victim's will, which is one of the criteria of assault. As a result, if the defendant can show that the victim agreed to the sexual contact or sexual intercourse, the charges will be dismissed.

For the defendant, proving permission might be difficult and even problematic. Defendants are frequently unable to produce affirmative defense or evidence of permission without testifying and being cross-examined.

Possible Sentence

A person with handcuffed handsSecond-degree sexual assault can be classified as a Class B felony. Second-degree sexual assault carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $10,000 if convicted of a Class B felony [1]. 

A misdemeanor or a Class D felony happens when the victim of the crime is under the age of sixteen and engages in sexual activities with a minor. Class D felonies usually get an average of a 7 years sentence.

It can be a Class C felony if the offender's victim is under the age of sixteen or engages in sexual activities with a physically helpless or mentally incapacitated person. If a person engages in sexual contact with another person and any of the following circumstances exist, they are guilty of second-degree sexual assault. It carries a maximum penalty of 40 years imprisonment and a $100,000 fine.

Related Article: Difference Between Molestation and Sexual Abuse

FAQ

In the United States, what is the average sentence for sexual assault?

The average sentence in the United States for sexual assault is 178 months. 19.1% of these criminals are convicted of a crime with a mandatory minimum sentence [2].

Do strangers commit the majority of sexual crimes?

Strangers do not commit the majority of sexual crimes. The great majority of sexual assaults take place between persons who are acquainted with one another. According to studies, rapes are conducted by known perpetrators in roughly 62 % to 92 %.

Get a Second-Degree Sexual Assault Evaluation

Second-degree charges can result in stigma and socioeconomic consequences. As a result, it is vital that an individual gets legal advice to ensure that all options are considered when defending against an accusation of second-degree sexual abuse.

If you have been accused of the misdemeanor of second-degree sexual abuse, it is critical that you seek the advice of a highly qualified and recognized law firm. Contact our legal team here and get a free evaluation for your case. 

References:

1. https://www.uwrf.edu/StudentConductAndCommunityStandards/SexualAssaultAndHarassment/DefinitionsAndWisconsinLaws.cfm

2. https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/research-and-publications/quick-facts/Sexual_Abuse_FY18.pdf

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