New York Sexual Assault Laws

New York criminalizes a wide range of conduct constituting "sexual abuse," which is generally defined as subjecting another person to sexual contact without the latter's consent. New York Penal Code Section 130(3) further defines "sexual contact" to include "any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire of either party," and touching of the actor by the victim, as well as the touching of the victim by the actor, whether directly or through clothing.

Other related crimes include forcible touching and persistent sexual abuse. New York also punishes four degrees of aggravated sexual abuse, each of which involve the insertion of a foreign object in the vagina, urethra, penis, rectum or anus of another person. "Foreign object" means any instrument or article whose insertion into the sexual parts of a person is capable of causing physical injury. All aggravated sexual abuse offenses are felonies.

New York Laws on Sexual Assault and Abuse

Below, you'll find a table breaking down the important aspects of New York's sexual assault laws, including the degrees of the crime and potential defenses.

New York Sexual Assault Statute Forcible Touching and Sexual Abuse Offenses
Penal Code Sections 130.52 - 130.70
Degrees of Sexual Abuse

The baseline act of subjecting another person to sexual contact without the person's consent constitutes third-degree sexual abuse. Elevation of the offense to a more serious degree depends on the circumstances surrounding the contact, including the victim's age. Thus, a person is guilty of second-degree abuse when or she subjects another person to sexual contact and the latter is incapable of consent by reason of some other factor other than being less than 17 years old, or is less than 14 years old.

A person commits first-degree sexual abuse when he or she subjects another person to sexual contact:

  • by "forcible compulsion" - compelling the victim through the use of physical force or the threat of immediate death, physical injury or kidnapping;
  • when the other person is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless;
  • when the other person is less than 11 years old; or
  • the other person is less than 13 years old and the defendant is 21 years old or older.
Aggravated Sexual Abuse

The Penal Code classifies aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree, the most serious of the sexual-abuse related offenses, as a class B violent felony; fourth-degree aggravated sexual abuse and persistent sexual abuse are class E violent felonies. These offenses carry sentences of 5 to 25 years of imprisonment for first-degree aggravated sexual abuse and of 1.5 to 4 years in prison for fourth-degree aggravated sexual abuse and persistent sexual abuse.

The lowest degree of sexual abuse is a class B misdemeanor and thus subject to a sentence of up to 3 months in prison, a fine of up to $500, or both. The crime of forcible touching is a class A misdemeanor and therefore subject to a sentence of up to 1 year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Defenses to Sexual Assault Charges
  • Lack of consent due solely to incapacity to consent by reason of being less than 17 years old (for third-degree sexual abuse; victim must be more than 14 years old and defendant must be less than five years older than victim)
  • Valid medical purpose (for all degrees of aggravated abuse)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources:

Get a Free Case Review

Convictions for sex offenses can result in your inclusion in sex offender registries, restrictions in employment and housing, long periods of incarceration, and negative social impacts that can last the rest of your life. An experienced lawyer can help develop a compelling defense or negotiate to avoid the worst outcomes on your behalf. Contact a local attorney for a free case review to discuss your case and potential defenses.

 

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.