Ohio Sexual Battery Laws

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Sexual battery (sometimes also called “sexual assault,” or rape) is illegal in Ohio, and punished as a felony. The circumstances of the offense determine the level of felony, which in turn determine the penalties that apply to the crime.

When it comes to sexual battery, the law strives to protect strangers, acquaintances, and married people equally. In Ohio, as in all states, there is no exception or defense to prosecution for battery or rape that occurs within a marriage (to learn more about marital rape laws in Ohio, see Marital Rape in Ohio).

Sexual Battery

In Ohio, “sexual battery” includes unwanted sexual conduct or touching. In its most extreme form, it is classified as rape, which occurs when someone compels a victim to engage in sexual intercourse against the victim’s will, and also includes circumstances when the victim is mentally incapable of giving consent to sex (such as being in a coma or having passed out from drug or alcohol use), and statutory rape—when the victim is too young to legally be able to give consent.

(Oh. Rev. Code Ann. § 2907.02, & 2907.03.)

Penalties

Penalties for sexual assault depend on the age of the victim, and the circumstances of the crime.

Sexually assaulting someone who is 13 years or older incurs a fine, at least one year (and up to five years) in prison, or both. If the assault included rape, penalties increase to at least five (and up to 11) years in prison, or both.

If the victim was younger than 13 years old at the time of the crime, penalties include a fine, at least two (and up to eight) years in prison, or both. If the crime included rape, penalties increase to a fine, life in prison, or both.

And if a rape caused serious harm to a victim aged 13 or younger, or if the victim was younger than ten (with serious injury or not), the defendant will face life in prison without parole.

Defenses to a Charge of Sexual Assault

Defendants charged with sexual assault have the usual defenses available to all criminal defendants, starting with “Someone else committed this crime.”

A defendant can also claim that the sexual activity was consensual. In a rape case, there can be significant questions about what constitutes consent or what constitutes refusal. This has led to the infamous question of when does “No” mean “No”? Does the word constitute a lack of consent as soon as it is spoken, or must the victim object more vigorously?

However, this defense only applies to conduct between two adults (people 18 or older). Statutory rape laws make minors legally incapable of giving consent to sexual activities. This means that even if the minor “consented,” the sexual activity was nonetheless illegal and the defendant may be convicted of sexual battery or rape.

Another possible defense is an insanity plea, in which the defense argues that the accused is mentally ill and did not have the capacity to control his behavior, to form criminal intent or to understand what he was doing or that his actions were unlawful.

See a Lawyer

If you are facing a sexual assault charge, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area. Numerous defenses apply to rape charges, and a lawyer can evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case against you and help develop any defenses that might apply to your case.

A lawyer can often negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser charge or a reduction in penalties (such as, for example, probation instead of prison time); and will know how prosecutors and judges typically handle cases like yours.

Help for Sexual Battery and Rape Survivors

If you are a victim of sexual battery or rape, contact Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) for online help and local resources.

by: , Contributing Author

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