Rhode Island Sexual Assault Laws and Penalties

Criminal Defense Lawyer John E. MacDonald, Inc. of Providence, Rhode Island

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Sexual Assault is a difficult conversation to have. If you are having the conversation, it may also be a hard time to distinguish what is what. The laws can be very confusing, and it may be hard to understand what is which or where the lines are drawn. In Rhode Island sexual assault laws apply to both rape and sexual assault. This can make it hard to distinguish one degree from another or figure out what happened and what that means.

Is It Sexual Contact or Sexual Penetration?

Sexual penetration is specified as any intrusion of a person into another person’s body or when the offender instructs the victim to penetrate themselves. Whether the person is clothed or not holds no relevance. Sexual contact is defined as when the offender purposefully touches another person to arouse, assault or gratify. Just like with sexual penetration, clothing is not a factor.

Rhode Island Sexual Assault Laws: First Degree Sexual Assault

This is when the accused is not the spouse, and they have reason to believe that the person they are taking advantage of has a diminished mental state. This could mean they are drunk or drugged, mentally disabled or physically incapable. This also includes when force or coercion is used, the victim is overcome, or they have been given medical treatment or examination concerning the act.

If found guilty, the punishment for first degree sexual assault can range between ten years and life. An assault with the intention of sexual assault, will result in three to twenty years in prison.

Rhode Island Sexual Assault Laws: Second Degree Sexual Assault

When the offender may believe that the victim is mentally or physically helpless if they were coerced or forced or treatment and examination took place. This level of sexual assault is contact, versus the penetration which would make it First Degree Sexual Assault. This means that the perpetrator touched the victim with sexual intent and to gratify, assault or arouse. Conviction of this charge brings three to fifteen years in prison.

Rhode Island Sexual Assault Laws: Third Degree Sexual Assault

Third Degree Sexual Assault is more commonly known as Statutory Rape. It is when the perpetrator is eighteen years of age, or older and penetration involves someone over the age of fourteen and under the age of sixteen. In Rhode Island, the age of consent is 16. In some cases, both parties may be under the age of eighteen. This level of sexual assault will bring up to five years in prison with a conviction.

Rhode Island Sexual Assault Laws: Child Molestation Sexual Assault

Rhode Island also has statutes that specify the sexual assault and rape of children. There are two degrees, which are differentiated similarly to their adult counterparts. First Degree Child Molestation Sexual Assault involves sexual penetration with a child younger than fourteen years of age. The offender of this crime will get twenty-five years to life. Second Degree Child Molestation Sexual Assault is sexual contact with a minor who is fourteen years of age or less. If found guilty, this leads to six to thirty years in prison.

Elder Abuse

Rhode Island’s Elder Abuse law also includes sexual abuse towards an aging adult. It encompasses the intended harm or negligence that may cause harm or risk to the victim. Caregivers, family members, or people they trust often commit these crimes. The punishment is dependent on the relationship between the offender and the victim, the result of the action, the action itself, etc.

Witnessing Sexual Assault

Witnesses of sexual assault must, by law, report them immediately. Any person who knows that sexual assault is taking place must notify the police or face a misdemeanor charge. This offense leads to a fine up to five hundred dollars and up to one year in prison. However, anyone who reports information about the sexual assault is given immunity from any liability under this same law.

Statute of Limitations

Waiting to report a sexual assault could mean that the prosecution may not be able to charge the offender. This is relative to the charge and the location of the crime. The Statute of Limitations for First Degree Sexual Assault or Child Molestation Sexual Assault charges has no limit. The same is true for Second Degree Child Molestation Sexual Assault charges. However, any other criminal offense has three years after the date of occurrence, before the state can no longer prosecute the offender. The sooner you speak to an attorney, the better. They will be able to help you determine which charge best fits your situation and what the Statute of Limitations may be.

The Steps To Take

You will want to contact the best sexual assault defense attorney in Rhode Island and find out what steps you should take next. The sooner, the better. It won’t be easy, but it will be necessary.  There are specifics of the law that can get confusing. Don’t be afraid, talk to someone who can help you. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. The answers may help you feel a bit more confident and able to move forward. The more you know, the better you will feel. To see the Rhode Island Sexual Assault laws in full click HERE.

Sexual Assault Statutes

Sexual assault defense attorney John E. MacDonald wants all of his clients to have access to legal resources to help them understand their case and be aware of the potential penalties. Here are the Rhode Island sexual assault laws and penalties.

Rhode Island First Degree Sexual Assault Laws

§ 11-37-2 First degree sexual assault.

A person is guilty of first degree sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual penetration with another person, and if any of the following circumstances exist:

(1) The accused, not being the spouse, knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally incapacitated, mentally disabled, or physically helpless.

(2) The accused uses force or coercion.

(3) The accused, through concealment or by the element of surprise, is able to overcome the victim.

(4) The accused engages in the medical treatment or examination of the victim for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or stimulation.

State of Rhode Island – http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/statutes/title11/11-37/11-37-2.HTM

Rhode Island First Degree Sexual Assault Penalties

§ 11-37-3 Penalty for first degree sexual assault.

Every person who shall commit sexual assault in the first degree shall be imprisoned for a period not less than ten (10) years and may be imprisoned for life.

Rhode Island Second Degree Sexual Assault Laws

§ 11-37-4 Second degree sexual assault.

A person is guilty of a second degree sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual contact with another person and if any of the following circumstances exist:

(1) The accused knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally incapacitated, mentally disabled or physically helpless.

(2) The accused uses force or coercion.

(3) The accused engages in the medical treatment or examination of the victim for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification or stimulation.

Rhode Island Second Degree Sexual Assault Penalties

§ 11-37-5 Penalty for second degree sexual assault.

Every person who shall commit sexual assault in the second degree shall be imprisoned for not less than three (3) years and not more than fifteen (15) years.

Rhode Island First Degree Sexual Assault Laws

§ 11-37-6 Third degree sexual assault.

A person is guilty of third degree sexual assault if he or she is over the age of eighteen (18) years and engaged in sexual penetration with another person over the age of fourteen (14) years and under the age of consent, sixteen (16) years of age.

Rhode Island Third Degree Sexual Assault Penalties

§ 11-37-7 Penalty for third degree sexual assault.

Every person who shall commit sexual assault in the third degree shall be imprisoned for not more than five (5) years.

Rhode Island Penalties for Assault with Intent to Commit First Degree Sexual Assault

§ 11-37-8 Penalty for assault with intent to commit first degree sexual assault.

Every person who shall commit assault with intent to commit first degree sexual assault shall be imprisoned for not less than three (3) years or more than twenty (20) years.

§ 11-37-8.6 Special assessment – Payment for treatment or counseling.

In addition to all other statutory costs and assessments, every person, adjudged guilty of the provisions of § 11-37-8.1 or 11-37-8.3, whether by trial, plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere, shall pay a special assessment of one hundred dollars ($100). In addition to any other penalty provided by law, any person convicted under §§ 11-37-8.1 – 11-37-8.3 may be required, as part of the sentence imposed by the court, to pay the cost of any necessary medical, psychological, or psychiatric treatment of the child resulting from the act or acts for which the defendant is convicted.

§ 11-37-3.2 Necessity of complaint from victim.

No person shall be charged under § 11-37-3.1 unless and until the police department investigating the incident obtains from the victim a signed complaint against the person alleging a violation of § 11-37-3.1.

Rhode Island Joinder of Offenses

§ 11-37-9 Joinder of offenses.

Any person who shall be indicted for first, second, or third degree sexual assault and/or first or second degree child molestation sexual assault and/or § 11-37-8 may also be charged in the same indictment with either or all of the offenses described in §§ 11-37-2, 11-37-4, 11-37-6, 11-37-8, 11-37-8.1, and 11-37-8.3. If upon trial the jury shall acquit the person of any of the charges of sexual assault and shall find him or her guilty of any of the other offenses, judgment and sentence may be entered against him or her accordingly.

Subsequent Offenses

§ 11-37-10 Subsequent offenses.

If a person is convicted of a second or subsequent offense under the provisions of §§ 11-37-2, 11-37-4, 11-37-8, 11-37-8.1, and 11-37-8.3, the sentence imposed under these sections for the second or subsequent offenses shall not be less than twice the minimum number of years of sentence for the most recent offense.

§ 11-37-1 Definitions.

The following words and phrases, when used in this chapter, have the following meanings:

(1) “Accused” means a person accused of a sexual assault.

(2) “Force or coercion” means when the accused does any of the following:

(i) Uses or threatens to use a weapon, or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim to reasonably believe it to be a weapon.

(ii) Overcomes the victim through the application of physical force or physical violence.

(iii) Coerces the victim to submit by threatening to use force or violence on the victim and the victim reasonably believes that the accused has the present ability to execute these threats.

(iv) Coerces the victim to submit by threatening to at some time in the future murder, inflict serious bodily injury upon or kidnap the victim or any other person and the victim reasonably believes that the accused has the ability to execute this threat.

(3) “Intimate parts” means the genital or anal areas, groin, inner thigh, or buttock of any person or the breast of a female.

(4) “Mentally disabled” means a person who has a mental impairment which renders that person incapable of appraising the nature of the act.

(5) “Mentally incapacitated” means a person who is rendered temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling his or her conduct due to the influence of a narcotic, anesthetic, or other substance administered to that person without his or her consent, or who is mentally unable to communicate unwillingness to engage in the act.

(6) “Physically helpless” means a person who is unconscious, asleep, or for any other reason is physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act.

(7) “Sexual contact” means the intentional touching of the victim’s or accused’s intimate parts, clothed or unclothed, if that intentional touching can be reasonably construed as intended by the accused to be for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or assault.

(8) “Sexual penetration” means sexual intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, and anal intercourse, or any other intrusion, however slight, by any part of a person’s body or by any object into the genital or anal openings of another person’s body, or the victim’s own body upon the accused’s instruction, but emission of semen is not required.

(9) “Spouse” means a person married to the accused at the time of the alleged sexual assault, except that such persons shall not be considered the spouse if the couple are living apart and a decision for divorce has been granted, whether or not a final decree has been entered.

(10) “Victim” means the person alleging to have been subjected to sexual assault.

The Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Law Office of John E. MacDonald are well versed with the Rhode Island Sexual Assault Laws and have extensive experience defending First Degree Sexual Assault, Second Degree Sexual Assault and Third Degree Sexual Assault cases in Rhode Island.

If you have been charged with a sexual assault offense and need experienced legal representation, call 401.421.1440 the Rhode Island Sexual Assault Defense Attorneys at the Law Office of John E. MacDonald for a free consultation to review your case.