Louisiana Sexual Battery Laws

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In Louisiana, a person commits the crime of rape or sexual battery by engaging in sexual activity without the other person’s consent.

For more information on sex crimes generally, see Sexual Battery Laws and Penalties.

Aggravated Rape

Under Louisiana’s laws, a person commits the crime of aggravated rape by engaging in oral, anal, or vaginal sex with another without that person’s consent when:

  • the defendant uses force to overcome the victim’s resistance
  • the victim is prevented from resisting by threats of great bodily harm
  • the victim is prevented from resisting because the defendant is armed with a dangerous weapon
  • the victim is under the age of 13
  • the victim is age 65 or older
  • the victim is quadriplegic, paraplegic, or mentally retarded, or
  • two or more defendants participate in the crime.

(La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14:42.)

For example, a person who forces someone to perform oral sex while armed with a gun could be convicted of aggravated rape.

A defendant who uses force or threatens injury while committing a sex crime could also be charged with assault or battery.

For more information on these crimes, see Felony Assault and Battery LouisianaMisdemeanor Assault and Battery in Louisiana, and Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Louisiana.

Forcible Rape

A person in Louisiana commits the crime of forcible rape by engaging in oral, anal, or vaginal sex when:

  • the victim is prevented from resisting by force or threats of physical violence, or
  • the victim is prevented from resisting or understanding the nature of the act due to a narcotic or other controlled substance administered by the defendant without the victim’s knowledge.

(La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14:42.1.)

For example, a person who administers Rohypnol (the “date rape” drug) to someone and then has intercourse with the person could be guilty of forcible rape.

Simple Rape

Finally, a person in Louisiana commits the crime of simple rape by engaging in oral, anal, or vaginal sex with another when:

  • the victim is unable to resist or understand the nature of the act due to intoxication or for some other reason and the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was incapacitated
  • the victim is temporarily or permanently incapable of understanding the nature of the act and the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was incapacitated, or
  • the defendant intentionally misleads a female victim into believing that he is her husband.

(La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14:43.)

For example, a person who has intercourse with a woman who is so drunk that she is incapacitated could be convicted of simple rape.

Sexual Battery

A person commits sexual battery by touching the victim sexually (or making the victim touch the defendant sexually):

  • without the victim’s consent, or
  • with the victim’s consent, but the victim is under the age of 15, is three years younger than the defendant, and is not married to the defendant.

A person over the age of 17 commits sexual battery by touching the victim without the victim’s consent, where:

  • the victim is prevented from resisting because the victim is paraplegic, quadriplegic, or otherwise incapable of resisting
  • the victim is mentally incapacitated and the defendant knows or should know of the victim’s incapacity, or
  • the victim is age 65 or older.

Sexual battery is punished more severely if the defendant inflicts serious injury on the victim, or if the victim is particularly vulnerable.

(La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 14:43.1, 14:43.2, 14:43.3.)

For example, a person who engages in digital penetration without the victim’s consent could be guilty of sexual battery. A 19-year-old who engages in oral sex with a 14-year-old could also be convicted of sexual battery, even if the act was consensual.

Defenses

It is a defense to a charge of sexual battery against a child under the age of 15 that the defendant is the child’s spouse. However, the defense only applies to consensual activities.

(La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 14:43.1, 14:43.3.)

For more information on spousal rape, see Louisiana Marital Rape Laws.

Punishment

Aggravated rape is punishable by life without parole at hard labor.

Louisiana law authorizes the death penalty for people convicted of rape of a child under the age of 13, but the United States Supreme Court has struck down capital punishment for rapists. (Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 U.S. 407 (2008).)

Forcible rape is punishable by five to 40 years’ imprisonment at hard labor.

Simple rape is punishable by up to 25 years in prison, with or without hard labor.

(La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 14:42, 14:42.1, 14:43.)

The punishment for sexual battery varies depending on the circumstances of the offense, but even the least serious offenses are punishable by up to 10 years in prison, with or without hard labor. The most serious sexual batteries are punishable by up to 99 years’ imprisonment at hard labor and lifetime electronic monitoring.

(La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 14:43.1, 14:43.2, 14:43.3.)

Sex Offender Registration

People convicted of aggravated rape and forcible rape are required to register as sex offenders in Louisiana. Depending on the circumstances, some people who are convicted of simple rape and sexual battery are also required to register. Registered offenders must provide personal information (including their name, home and work addresses, fingerprints, DNA sample, and photograph) to local police and must send notification to all residences and businesses within a certain distance from their home.

(La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 15:542, 15:542.1.)

Obtaining Legal Assistance

A conviction for rape or sexual battery in Louisiana can have severe consequences, including a lengthy prison term at hard labor and sex offender registration. If you are charged with a sex crime, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can explain the legal process to you and help you prepare the strongest possible defense.

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