Kentucky Rape and Sexual Assault Laws

Each state criminalizes non-consensual sexual intercourse, or rape. In Kentucky, "sexual intercourse" includes penetration of the sex organ of one person, no matter how slight, by another person's body or by a foreign object manipulated by another. Kentucky has three separate laws that criminalize rape: first-degree rape, second-degree rape, and third-degree rape. Which law an offender is prosecuted under depends on the circumstances surrounding the rape. The following chart highlights Kentucky's rape laws.

Code Section

Kentucky Revised Statutes section 510.040510.060: Rape

Definition of First-Degree Rape

First-Degree Rape:

  • Sexual intercourse with someone by forcible compulsion, or
  • Sexual intercourse with someone who isn't capable of consenting to the act because they are either physically helpless or less than 12 years old.
Definition of Second-Degree Rape Second-Degree Rape: Being 18 years old or older and having sexual intercourse with someone who is less than 14 years old, or who is mentally incapacitated.

Definition of Third-Degree Rape


Third-Degree Rape: Having sexual intercourse with someone in one of the following situations
  • Victim isn't capable of consenting to the act because of an intellectual disability,
  • Offender is 21 years old or older and the victim is less than 16 years old,
  • Offender is 21 years old or older and the victim is less than 18 years old and is lives in the offender's foster family home
  • Offender is in a position of authority or a position of special trust (defined in section 532.045), the victim is less than 18 years old, and the victim came into contact with the offender because of his or her position, or
  • Offender is a jailer (or is associated with the Department of Corrections) and knows that the victim is incarcerated, supervised, evaluated, or treated by the Department of Corrections.

Crime Classifications and Penalties

First-Degree Rape: Class B felony; 10-20 years in prison.

  • If the victim is less than 12 years old or the victim receives a serious physical injury, then first-degree rape is elevated to a Class A felony (20+ years in prison).

Second-Degree Rape: Class C felony; 5-10 years in prison.

Third-Degree Rape: Class D felony; 1-5 years in prison.

Sexual Assault

Sexually touching someone in an unwanted or offensive way generally constitutes sexual assault. In Kentucky, this crime is called "sexual abuse" and it is divided into three separate crimes depending on the circumstances surrounding the act.

First-Degree Sexual Abuse:

  1. Subjecting another person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion
  2. Engaging in sexual contact with someone who is incapable of consenting either because they are physically helpless, less than 12 years old, or mentally incapacitated
  3. Offender is 21 years old or older and the victim is less than 16 and the victim is subjected to sexual contact, the offender masturbates in the victim's presence, or the offender masturbates while the victim can see or hear him or her via electronic means, or
  4. Offender is in a position of authority or a position of special trust (defined in section 532.045), and subjects a victim under 18 years old to engage in sexual contact or masturbates in the presence of the minor (either in person or via electronic means)

First-degree sexual abuse is a class D felony, and is punishable by imprisonment for between one and five years. However, if the victim is less than 12 years old, then the offense is a class C felony and is punishable by imprisonment for between five and ten years.

Second-Degree Sexual Abuse

  1. Subjecting another person to sexual contact who isn't capable of consenting due to an intellectual disability
  2. Offender is between 18 and 21 years old and subjects a victim, who is less than 16 years old, to sexual contact
  3. Offender works for the Department of Corrections and is at least 18 years old and subjects someone (who they know is incarcerated) to sexual contact

Second-degree sexual abuse is a class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 12 months in jail.

Third-Degree Sexual Abuse: Subjecting another person to sexual contact without the victim's consent. Third-degree sexual abuse is a class B misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 90 days in jail.

Consent

Under Kentucky's rape and sexual assault laws, the victim must not have consented to the sexual contact. It is important to note that a lack of consent can result from:

  • Forcible compulsion
  • Incapacity to consent, or
  • (If the charge is for sexual abuse) Any situation in which the victim doesn't acquiesce (either expressly or impliedly) to the offender's conduct

Additionally, the following categories of people are legally incapable of giving consent in Kentucky:

  • Under 16 years old
  • Individuals with an intellectual disability or a mental illness
  • Mentally incapacitated
  • Physically helpless, or
  • People under the care or custody of a state or local agency due to a court order (and the offender is employed by the state or local agency)

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sex crime, please reach out for help by contacting a local crisis center at 1-800-656-HOPE or by visiting the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs website.

Free Initial Case Review

Sex crimes, especially rape and sexual assault, are very serious charges. A conviction could result in severe consequences such as a prison sentence. Anytime you could be facing the possibility of prison time, it is in your best interests to hire an experienced defense attorney who can analyze your options and can formulate a solid defense strategy. Take the first step by getting a free initial case review by a Kentucky attorney.

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