Mississippi Rape and Sexual Assault Laws

Mississippi has a number of rape and sexual assault laws on the books. The penalties range in severity based upon factors such as the ages of the victim and the perpetrator, the degree of violence used, and whether the offender was in a position of authority.

For example, for the crime of sexual battery, if the victim was 15 years of age but the perpetrator was 18 years of age, the crime is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. However, if the perpetrator was 21 years of age, the crime is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Mississippi Rape and Sexual Assault Laws

The following table outlines rape and sexual assault laws in Mississippi.

Code Sections

MISS. CODE ANN. ยงยง 97-3-65 et seq., 97-3-95 et seq., and 97-5-23
What is Prohibited?

Statutory rape:

  • Having sex with a child who is at least 14 but under 16 years of age, or a with a child who is not a spouse and is 3 years younger, and the perpetrator is 17 years of age or older
  • Having sex with a child under 14 years of age, or with a child who is not a spouse and who is 2 years younger

Rape: forcing another to have sex or having sex with a person who has been given a substance or liquid (such as alcohol or drugs) which prevents them from providing proper consent

Sexual assault (a.k.a. "assault with intent to ravish"): assaulting a woman with the intent of raping her

Sexual battery: sexual penetration of any of the following

  • Another person without consent
  • A mentally defective/incapacitated or physically helpless person
  • A child who is at least 14, but under 16 years of age
  • A child who is 3 years younger than the perpetrator
  • A child who is under 14 years of age (unless the perpetrator is within 2 years of the victim's age)
  • A child under 18 years of age and the perpetrator is an authority figure (such as a teacher, counselor, physician, legal guardian, parent, coach, etc.)

Sex with inmates, parolees, etc.: sexual penetration by an authority figure (such as a guard, sheriff, or correctional facility employee) of an inmate, parolee, or person who is on probation or otherwise under supervision

Fondling a child or a mentally incapacitated or physically helpless person:

  • Fondling a child under 16 years of age or a mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless person, for the purpose of gratifying the perpetrator's lust or sexual desires and the perpetrator is 18 years of age or older
  • An authority figure (such as a teacher or parent) fondling a child under 18 years of age, younger than the perpetrator, and not the perpetrator's spouse
Penalties

Rape and sexual assault are punishable by life imprisonment.

Statutory rape and sexual battery crimes are punishable by maximum penalties ranging from a sentence of 5 years - life imprisonment and from $5,000 - $10,000 in fines. Additional penalties may apply for repeat offenders. The court has discretion over the criminal penalties if the perpetrator is at least 13, but less than 18 years of age.

A person in a position of authority who sexually penetrates an inmate, parolee, or a person on probation or otherwise under supervision may be charged with a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Fondling a child or a mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless person is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. Repeat offenses are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Defenses

Consent or the victim's lack of chastity not a defense to statutory rape.

Lack of chastity may be a defense to rape if it affects the victim's credibility on the issue of rape.

Mississippi Rape and Sexual Assault Laws: Related Resources

If you have been charged with a rape or sexual assault crime and need help, you may want to contact a Mississippi criminal defense attorney. You can also visit Findlaw's sections on Rape, Sexual Assault Overview, and Sex Offenders and Sexual Offenses: Overview for more articles and information on these topics.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.