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How are sexual assault and abuse defined?

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2018 | Felonies |

Many may think that the definition of sexual assault has become open to interpretation. Whereas at one time, many might have thought “sexual assault” only meant rape, today the term is seemingly applied to any offense of a sexual nature. The fact of the matter is that sexual assault was never simply limited to rape, but always included any assaulting actions related to sexual activity. You should also know that West Virginia law also distinguishes between sexual assault and sexual abuse. The question is what category of offense the crime you were accused of committing in Wheeling falls under? 

According to the West Virginia Legislature, “sexual assault” is defined as you initiating sexual intercourse or sexual intrusion with another person without that person’s consent (for the purposes of this law, “sexual intrusion” means “penetration, however slight, of the female sex organ or of the anus of any person by an object”). “Sexual abuse,” on the other hand, is considered subjecting another person to any form of sexual contact, which the state defines as “any intentional touching, either directly or through clothing, of the breasts, buttocks, anus or any part of the sex organs of another person, or intentional touching of any part of another person’s body by the actor’s sex organs.”

Any form of sexual assault in West Virginia is considered to be a felony offense. The state recognizes three different degrees of sexual abuse. The first of these is also considered to be a felony, whereas the second and third would net you misdemeanor charges. Successfully challenging the validity of any accusation of sexual assault or abuse often lies in your ability to prove that you had (or believed you had) your partner’s consent.