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Sexual Abuse Crimes – Federal Law – Virginia

Title 18, Chapter 109A of the United States Code is the federal law section that regulates federal sex crimes dealing with sexual acts and sexual contact. Some of these crimes criminalize sexual acts, while others criminalize sexual contact.

Federal Sexual Abuse Crimes Law

Federal Sexual Abuse Crimes Law

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SEXUAL ACTS & SEXUAL CONDUCT:

Sexual acts involve:

(1) Penetration of the penis into the vulva or anus;
(2) Contact between the mouth and the penis, vulva, or anus;
(3) Ppenetration into the anal or genital opening by a finger or any other object with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of another; or
(4) The intentional touching, not through clothing, of the genitalia of someone who is under 16 years old with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the person.

Sexual contact involves:

The intentional touching of someone of any age, either directly or through clothing, of the genitalia, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the person.

Generally, sexual acts bring harsher penalties than sexual contact.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS:

The statute of limitations sets a time limit on when a person can be prosecuted in federal court for a criminal offense. The federal statute of limitations is found at Title 18, Section 3282, of the United States Code.

The federal law generally says that a person cannot be prosecuted for a crime after more than 5 years have passed. However, that is a “general statute of limitations” . It applies to all offenses, unless the offense is subject to a specific statute of limitations found elsewhere in the United States Code.

Federal offenses in which a child is the victim have their own specific statute of limitations. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (P.L. 109-248, H.R. 4472, 2006) changed the statute of limitations to enable United States Attorneys to prosecute crimes against children long after they are alleged to have taken place.

The law was drafted in response to the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh, son of America’s Most Wanted Founder John Walsh. Like capital crimes (where the death penalty can be imposed) and terrorism, crimes against children now have no statute of limitation. A federal offense against a minor can be prosecuted at any time, even after many, many decades have passed.

For almost all federal criminal charges involving children, a child is defined as any person who is less than 18 years of age.

These federal sex abuse criminal charges have no statute of limitation:

18 USC 2241: Aggravated sexual abuse:

Engaging in a sex act with a child who is younger than 12 years old, or sexual conduct with a child who is between 12 and 16 years old if the defendant is at least 4 years older.

18 USC 2242 Sexual abuse:

Engaging in a sex act with any person by force or threat of force, or where the other person cannot legally consent.

18 USC 2243 Sexual abuse of a minor or ward:

18 USC 2244. Abusive sexual contact.

18 USC 2245. Any sexual abuse that results in death.

18 USC 2250. Failure to register as a sex offender.

FEDERAL SEX ABUSE CRIMES:

18 USC § 2241 – Aggravated Sexual Abuse:

There are three specific aggravated sexual assault crimes under federal law:

  1. By force or threat;
  2. By other means; and/or,
  3. With children.

BY FORCE OR THREAT:

A person commits an offense if, in the territorial jurisdiction of the US or in Federal prison, he knowingly causes another to engage in a sexual act by:

  1. Using force against that person,
  2. Placing that person in fear that any person will be subjected to death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping,

BY OTHER MEANS:

  1. Rendering that person unconscious, OR
  2. Administering a drug, intoxicant, or similar substance thereby substantially impairing the ability of the other person to appraise or control conduct.

PENALTY:

This offense shall be punished by fine, imprisonment for any term of years or life, or both.

WITH CHILDREN:

A person commits an offense if he:

  1. Crosses a state line with intent to engage in a sexual act with a person under 12 years old,
  2. Knowingly engages in a sexual act with a person under 12 in territorial jurisdiction of US or in Federal prison, OR
  3. Knowingly engages in sexual act with a person between 12 and 16 years of age, at least 4 years younger than the offender, under any of the circumstances listed in the first subsection.

The government need not prove that the defendant knew the other person engaging in the act was under 12 years old.

PENALTY:

This offense shall be punished by fine, imprisonment for any term of years or life, or both. If the defendant has previously been convicted under this subsection, or of a State offense that would be under this subsection if in Federal jurisdiction, the punishment shall be life imprisonment unless the death penalty is imposed.

18 USC § 2242 – Sexual Abuse:

A person commits an offense when, in the territorial jurisdiction of the US or in a Federal prison, he knowingly:

  1. Causes another person to engage in sexual act by placing the other person in fear (other than fear of death, bodily injury, or kidnapping),
  2. Engages in a sexual act with a person incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct, OR
  3. Engages in a sexual act with a person physically incapable of declining participation or of communicating unwillingness to participate.

PENALTY:

This offense shall be punished by fine or imprisonment up to 20 years or both.

18 USC § 2243 – Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Ward:

a. A person commits an offense when, in the territorial jurisdiction of the US or in a Federal prison, he knowingly:

  1. Engages in a sexual act with a person between 12 and 16 years of age, AND
  2. The other person is at least 4 years younger than the offender.

This offense shall be punished by fine or imprisonment up to 15 years or both.

b. A person commits an offense when, in the territorial jurisdiction of the US or in a Federal prison, he knowingly in a sexual act with another person who is in official detention under the disciplinary or supervisory authority of the offender.
The government need not prove that the defendant knew either the age of the other person or that the requisite age difference existed.

DEFENSES:

  1. It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a) that the defendant reasonably believed that the other person was at least 16 years old. The defendant must establish this by a preponderance of the evidence.
  2. It is a defense to prosecution under this Section that the two persons engaging in the sexual act were married at the time of the offense. The defendant must establish this by a preponderance of the evidence.

PENALTY:

This offense shall be punished by fine or imprisonment up to 1 year or both.

18 USC § 2244 – Abusive Sexual Contact:

This section of the law deals with sexual contact. The first part of this section of the law lists punishments for violations of the above crimes if the violation dealt with sexual contact instead of sexual acts:

A person commits an offense if:

1. In the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S. or in a Federal prison, he knowingly engages in sexual contact with another person without that other person’s permission.

PENALTY:

  1. This offense shall be punished by fine or imprisonment up to 6 months or both.
  2. If the contact would violate §2241 (Aggravated Sexual Abuse) had the sexual contact been a sexual act, the imprisonment shall be up to 10 years. This means if a person violated 18 USC §2241 (above) by using force or threat or other means to engage in, or attempt to engage in, sexual contact with another, the person will be imprisoned for up to 10 years, fined, or both. If a person violated 18 USC §2241 (above) with children, the person will be imprisoned for up to a lifetime and fined.
  3. If the contact would violate §2242 (Sexual Abuse) had the sexual contact been a sexual act, the imprisonment shall be up to 3 years.This means if a person violated 18 USC §2242 (above) to engage in, or attempt to engage in, sexual contact with another, the person will be imprisoned for up to 3 years, fined, or both.
  4. If the contact would violate §2243(a) (Sexual Abuse with Minor) had the sexual contact been a sexual act, the imprisonment shall be up to 2 years. This means if a person violated 18 USC §2243 (above) by engaging in, or attempting to engage in, sexual contact with a minor, the person will be sentenced to up to 2 years in prison, fined, or both.
  5. If the contact would violate §2243(b) (Sexual Abuse with Ward) had the sexual contact been a sexual act, the imprisonment shall be up to 6 months.

If the sexual contact constituting an offense of this section is with a child under 12 years old, the maximum term of imprisonment shall be twice that otherwise provided.

18 USC § 2245 – Sexual Abuse Resulting in Death:

A person, who, in the course of an offense under this Chapter, engages in conduct that results in the death of a person, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or life. That means if a person murders another while engaging in certain federal sex crimes, he or she will be punished by death, or life imprisonment.

18 USC § 2246 – Definitions:

SEXUAL ACT MEANS:

(A) contact between the penis and the vulva or the penis and the anus, and for purposes of this subparagraph contact involving the penis occurs upon penetration, however slight;

(B) contact between the mouth and the penis, the mouth and the vulva, or the mouth and the anus;

(C) the penetration, however slight, of the anal or genital opening of another by a hand or finger or by any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person; or

(D) the intentional touching, not through the clothing, of the genitalia of another person who has not attained the age of 16 years with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person;

SEXUAL CONTACT MEANS:

The intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person;

SERIOUS BODILY INJURY MEANS:

Bodily injury that involves a substantial risk of death, unconsciousness, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty;

18 USC § 2247 – Repeat Offenders:

The maximum term of imprisonment for a violation of this Chapter after a prior sex offense conviction shall be twice the term otherwise provided. This means if a person convicted of a federal sex crime has already been convicted of a sex crime in the past, the maximum term of imprisonment is automatically doubled from what is listed above.

It is clear that the consequences of a federal sex crime conviction are extremely serious.

Have you been charged, or fear you could be charged with an federal sex abuse crime in Virginia and need a lawyer to defend you?

Are you concerned about the consequences of being charged in a Federal Sex crime in Virginia?

For a lot of our clients, being charged with a Federal Sex Crime in Virginia can result in the loss of their job, their security clearance or even their immigration status.

Don’t risk going to court without a lawyer, if you have been charged, or fear you may be charged, contact our law firm for help and speak with a lawyer today.

We have client meeting locations in Fairfax, Prince William County, Richmond, Loudoun County, Virginia Beach, Fredericksburg, and Lynchburg.

We will do our absolute best to help you through this difficult and stressful time. Fortunately, we are experienced, tough sexual assault lawyers.

Article contributed by Kimberly Bolinskey
Sris Law Group
1-434-509-4004

Disclaimer:

These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.

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