District of Columbia Rape and Sexual Assault Laws

District of Columbia rape and sexual assault laws are categorized as sexual abuse. Under these laws, prosecutors apply separate degrees to the crime depending on the malicious nature of the defendant's actions and whether the actions by the accused can be classified as a "sexual act" or "sexual contact." This is a quick summary of the rape and sexual assault laws in the District of Columbia.

Classifications of Rape and Sexual Assault Laws in the District of Columbia: Overview

The following table outlines the specifics of District of Columbia laws prohibiting rape and sexual assault.

Code Sections

District of Columbia Official Code §22-30: Sexual Abuse

First Degree Sexual Abuse

Under Washington, D.C.'s rape and sexual assault laws, a person is guilty of first degree sexual abuse if the person engages in a sexual act:

  • By using force against the other person;
  • By threatening any person with death, bodily injury, or kidnapping;
  • After rendering the other person unconscious; or
  • After administering a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance that substantially impairs the ability of the other person to control his or her conduct.

If the abuse involves sexual contact rather than a sexual act, the crime is classified as third degree sexual abuse.

Second Degree Sexual Abuse

A person is guilty of second degree sexual abuse if the person engages in a sexual act:

  • By threatening or placing that other person in reasonable fear; or
  • Where the person knows or has reason to know that the other person is incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct, incapable of declining participation in that sexual act, or incapable of communicating unwillingness to engage in that sexual act.

If the abuse involves sexual contact rather than a sexual act, the crime is classified as fourth degree sexual abuse.

Misdemeanor Sexual Abuse

A person is guilty of misdemeanor sexual abuse if the person engages in a sexual act or sexual contact with another person and he or she should have knowledge that the act was committed without that other person's permission.

Penalties

First Degree: Punishment of up to life in prison, and fines of up to $250,000.

Second Degree: Punishment of up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $200,000.

Third Degree: Punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Fourth Degree: Punishment of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Misdemeanor: Punishment of up to 180 days in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

If you have been accused of rape or sexual assault and would like additional legal advice, you can contact a District of Columbia criminal defense lawyer through FindLaw. Visit FindLaw's sections on rape, sexual assault, and other sex crimes for more articles and information on this topic.

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