Sexual Abuse 1st Degree – A Quick Overview

Kimberly2 1Author:

Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney

Sexual Abuse Charges in Missouri

 There are a number of different categories of sexual offenses in Missouri. Many of the terms and categories relating to this type of crime sound similar and can be easily misunderstood.One of the most common sex offense charges people face is a 1st Degree Sexual Abuse charge. If you have been charged with this crime, learning about the charges can be crucial in preparing for your case in court. 

What is Sexual Abuse in the First Degree?

 An individual is guilty of sexual abuse in the first degree according to the law in Missouri if they use coercion or force to make another person have sexual contact with them. Someone can also be guilty of sexual abuse in the first degree if they subject another person to sexual contact when that other person is incapacitated, incapable of consenting, or cannot consent.  Sexual contact refers to touching another person’s genitals or anus, or the breast of a female person. It includes all forms of touching through the clothes, with the intent to gratify the sexual desire or arouse any person or with the intent to terrorize the victim. Force or coercion refers to physical intimidation that overcomes reasonable resistance; or an express or implied threat of death, serious injury, or kidnapping.It also includes the use of a substance without a victim’s knowledge or consent that renders them unable to give informed consent to sexual activity.  

Consent in Sexual Abuse Cases

 Consent is often difficult to prove or disprove in sexual assault cases, but it cannot be ignored. People are more aware of consent’s cultural and legal definitions in recent years. Still, there are many misconceptions about what consent means.Consent is an agreement to engage in sexual activity. By law, current or past actions of either party may not count as consent. This means even if two people have willingly engaged in sexual activity before, it does not mean they consent to sex in the future. Consent laws apply to everyone, even dating and married couples. Sexual abuse is a crime in all of Missouri, regardless of your relationship with the other party.Missouri Law doesn’t define consent; however, it does define when a person is incompetent to consent. The following are some cases where the victim may be considered unfit to consent:1.MinorsIf the alleged victim is less than 17 years old, they cannot consent to sexual contact with an adult.2. Mentally Unstable VictimsIf the alleged victim is incapable of making a reasonable judgment about the nature or harmfulness of the conduct. This includes cases of temporary or permanent physical or mental conditions in which a person is unconscious, unable to assess behavior, or unable to refuse an act. 

Possible Punishments for Sexual Abuse in the First Degree

 Sexual abuse in the first degree is considered a Class C felony under Missouri Law. If the victim is under the age of fourteen or if it is an aggravated sexual offense, then it is considered a Class B felony. In the case of incest, sexual abuse is a Class E felony. An aggravated sexual offense is one in which the alleged actor:

  • Inflicts serious physical injury on the victim.
  • Threateningly displays a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
  • Subjects the victim to multiple sexual encounters.
  • Had committed other crimes against minors.
  • Commits the offense as part of two or more people’s established or prescribed pattern of activity.
  • Engages in the offense with a person the actor knows to be a relative.

A Class C felony conviction carries a 3-to-10-year prison sentence in Missouri. A Class B felony carries a minimum sentence of 15 years. Depending on the circumstances, the person can get a life sentence.Contact The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center for more information and assistance if you are facing sexual abuse charges!

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