West Chester

Sexual Assault Attorney

A sexual assault allegation, no matter the circumstances, can turn your life upside down. Sex crimes in Pennsylvania are prosecuted aggressively and the penalties are incredibly harsh. In many cases, law enforcement will do all that they can to secure a sex crime conviction and penalize you to the fullest extent of the law. Since these cases are typically built on little more than accusations, it is crucial to discuss your options and how to best defend yourself with a highly-experienced and aggressive sexual assault lawyer.

Attorney Michael J. Skinner has defended individuals throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania accused of sexual assault crimes for many years. As a former Chester County prosecutor, he will draw on this experience from the other side of these cases to thoroughly investigate the accusations and develop the most effective defense strategy possible. We know what’s at stake in sexual assault cases, and we’ll do everything possible to protect you, pursue a dismissal or reduction, and deal with any false or exaggerated accusations. If you’re charged with a sexual assault, contact us at (610) 436-1410 to set up a free, confidential consultation.

Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Law & Charges

According to Pa. Cons. Stat. §3124.1, a prosecutor can charge you with a second-degree felony if you engage in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a person without that person’s consent.

A felony of the second degree has a presumptive sentence of up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.

When someone accuses you of performing sex on them without their consent, your best response is to keep quiet until you can hire a sexual assault attorney. Do not agree to speak with the police. If an officer arrested you, do not answer any questions. Instead, state you are invoking your right to remain silent, and you want an attorney.

Also, do not reach out to the accuser or any mutual friends or colleagues. You cannot clear up this misunderstanding on your own. Anything you say to your accuser, a friend, colleague or relative can be used against you. No matter how much you try to defend yourself, the police and prosecution can twist your words and motives to make you look guilty.

Statutory Sexual Assault

Pennsylvania takes statutory sexual assault seriously. The statute focuses specifically on the age gap between a minor and an adult. It does not require sexual intercourse to be non-consensual.

Under PA Cons Stat §3122.1, a prosecutor can charge you with a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and fines reaching $25,000 if you engage in sexual intercourse with a minor who is under 16 years old and not your spouse, and you are either:

  • Between four and eight years older than the minor; or
  • Between eight and 99 years older than the minor.

If you engage in sexual intercourse with a minor who is under 16 years and not your spouse, and you are 11 years or older, you can be charged with a first-degree felony. As a first-degree felony, statutory sexual assault is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines reaching $25,000.

Institutional Sexual Assault

According to PA Cons Stat §3124.2, a prosecutor can charge you with a third-degree felony if you engage in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, or indecent contact with an inmate, detainee, patient, or resident, and you are an employee or agent of a:

  • Department of Corrections;
  • County correctional authority;
  • Youth development center;
  • Youth forestry camp;
  • State or county juvenile facility;
  • Other licensed residential facility serving children and youth; or
  • Mental health or mental retardation facility or institution.

Pennsylvania’s institutional sexual assault law also encompasses sexual conduct performed by teachers and other school employees or volunteers and childcare facility employees or volunteers.

As a third-degree felony, institutional sexual assault is penalized with up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

Sexual Assault by a Sports Official or Non-Profit Volunteer

Under PA Cons Stat §3124.3, a prosecutor can charge you with a third-degree felony for engaging in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, or indecent contact with a minor who participates in a nonprofit or for-profit sports program where you are an official.

Sports officials include anyone who supervises children participating in a sports program, such as a coach, assistant coach, athletic trainer, team attendant, game manager, instructor, referee, or umpire.

If you are a volunteer or employee of a nonprofit association that has direct contact with minors who participate in that program or activity, a prosecutor can charge you with a third-degree felony for engaging in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, or indecent contact with one of the children.

Sexual Assault Definitions in PA

“Sexual intercourse” in Pennsylvania includes not only the ordinary meaning of the term (vaginal sex) but also oral and anal sex. Any penetration, no matter how slight, constitutes intercourse. Neither orgasm nor emission is required.

“Deviate sexual intercourse” is a broader category than sexual intercourse. It encompasses oral and anal sex and sexual intercourse with animals. It also includes penetration of the genitals or anus, no matter how slight, with a foreign object, which can be any object other than the actor’s body.

“Indecent contact” encompasses any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person to arouse or gratify any person’s sexual desire.

Sexual Assault v. Rape in Pennsylvania

For a prosecutor to charge you with rape, certain circumstances must exist. A prosecutor must prove the sexual intercourse was non-consensual and an additional element, such as force, threats, or that the victim was unconscious, involuntarily impaired, or mentally disabled.

Without one of the five specific circumstances outlined in PA Cons Stat §3121, a prosecutor cannot charge you with rape. However, if your accuser claims the sexual intercourse was not consensual, a prosecutor can still pursue sexual assault charges against you.

Additionally, rape in Pennsylvania focuses on sexual intercourse only. It does not include penetration by an object like the sexual assault statute. Therefore, if the accuser claims you penetrated their anus or genitals with an object without their consent, a prosecutor would charge you with sexual assault instead of rape.

When someone accuses you of performing non-consensual sex, call a sexual assault attorney right away. What may have started as rape allegations may be negotiated to a lesser sexual assault charge, depending on the circumstances.

Sex Offender Registration for Sexual Assault

Another consequence of being convicted of a third-, second-, or first-degree felony sexual assault is being required to register as a sex offender.

Sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, and institutional sexual assault are Tier III Offenses under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). The law will mandate that you register for life and verify your registration information quarterly.

If you fail to register or renew your registration at the appropriate time, a prosecutor can charge you with a third-degree felony.

Defending Against Sexual Assault Charges

When someone accuses you of sexual assault, you need to speak with an experienced sexual assault defense attorney as soon as possible. It is never too soon to begin investigating the allegations against you and planning your defense.

Depending on the circumstances, your defense may include proving:

• The other party consented to the activity;
• Your accuser is lying and has ulterior motives such as embarrassment, regret, revenge, or influencing a divorce or child custody case;
• There has been a mistake of identity;
• You have an alibi for the time of the offense;
• Your DNA does not match the DNA evidence left at the scene;
• You reasonably believed your sexual partner was of age to consent;
• A child accuser has false memories;
• A child has been coached or influenced by improper interview techniques; or
• You did not hold an employment or volunteer position with a sports association, non-profit, schools, or institution.

Call a Sexual Assault Lawyer For Help

If you are dealing with any form of sexual assault allegations in West Chester, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County, take the necessary steps to fight these charges by retaining a competent and aggressive criminal defense attorney. Attorney Michael J. Skinner is dedicated to protecting your rights throughout the criminal court process. He is a passionate and perceptive lawyer who will act with your best interests in mind while making certain he considers every angle in preparing your defense.

Call (610) 436-1410 to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.

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