Georgia Rape, Sodomy, and Sexual Battery Laws

In Georgia, a person convicted of rape, aggravated sodomy, sexual battery, or improper sexual contact can face serious criminal penalties, including lengthy terms of imprisonment and substantial fines.

By , Attorney

Georgia law makes it illegal to engage in sexual acts with another person who doesn't consent, can't consent, or is coerced. People who engage in unlawful sexual misconduct against another person can be charged with rape, aggravated sodomy, sexual battery, or improper sexual contact, depending on the act involved and sometimes the parties.

This article will review the definitions and penalties for the Georgia crimes of rape, aggravated sodomy, sexual battery, and improper sexual contact.

Rape Laws and Penalties in Georgia

Georgia has a gender-specific rape law that applies to only acts committed by a man against a woman. A man commits the crime of rape by having sexual intercourse with a woman forcibly and without consent. A spouse can also be a victim.

Even the slightest penetration can constitute intercourse, and threats, intimidation, and physical harm can be considered force. It's also considered force to engage in sex with a woman who can't consent due to being intoxicated, unconscious, asleep, or otherwise incapacitated.

A man also commits the crime of rape by having sex with a girl younger than 10 years old. The prosecution doesn't need to prove force or lack of consent for this crime. (More on age-related sex offenses can be found in Georgia Statutory Rape Laws.)

A conviction for rape carries 25 years to life in prison. Although Georgia's rape sentencing law also authorizes the death penalty, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the death penalty for rapists.

Aggravated Criminal Sodomy Law and Penalties in Georgia

Aggravated criminal sodomy occurs when a person has oral or anal sex with another person by force and without the other person's consent, or with a person who is younger than 10 years old.

A guilty defendant faces 25 years to life in prison for an aggravated sodomy conviction.

(Note: While the statutory language still makes consensual sodomy a crime, Georgia courts have since declared that provision to be unconstitutional.)

Sexual Battery and Aggravated Sexual Battery Laws and Penalties in Georgia

A person in Georgia commits the crime of sexual battery by intentionally making physical contact with the intimate parts (genitals, buttocks, or a woman's breasts) of another person's body without their consent. For example, fondling a woman's breast without her consent constitutes sexual battery.

The more severe crime of aggravated sexual battery happens when an offender penetrates a victim's genitals or anus with a foreign object (anything other than a penis) without their consent. For example, placing a finger in a woman's vagina against her will can be charged as aggravated sexual battery.

Sexual battery is a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, which carries up to 12 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. A second or subsequent conviction for sexual battery, a felony, can land a defendant in prison for one to five years. Aggravated sexual battery is punishable by 25 years to life imprisonment.

Improper Sexual Contact Laws and Penalties in Georgia

Georgia law also punishes sexual relations involving a person in a position of authority or trust over another. Referred to as improper sexual contact, this offense involves an offender who knowingly engages in sexually explicit conduct with another person while being an employee or agent of the facility or institution where the victim receives services—for instance, a parole officer and parolee, hospital employee and patient, inmate and correctional officer, or counselor and patient. The law also applies to school employees and enrolled students and a foster parent and child. Consent of the victim for this unlawful sexual activity is not a defense to prosecution.

Penalties depend on the sexual conduct involved, the ages of the parties, and if the victim sustained any injuries. A person can face anywhere from a misdemeanor to 50 years in prison.

Prior Consensual Sexual Activity

It is not a defense to the above-referenced unlawful sexual conduct that the victim and defendant previously engaged in consensual sexual conduct. However, a victim's prior sexual activity with the defendant may be admissible at trial when the defendant raises the defense of consent.

Sex Offender Registration

Georgia's Sex Offender Registration Law requires defendants convicted of dangerous sexual offenses to register as sex offenders for life. The law lists rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery (as well as a second or subsequent non-aggravated sexual battery), or improper sexual contact by an employee or agent in the first or second degree as dangerous sexual offenses. Failure to comply with registration requirements results in an additional felony charge, carrying one to 30 years in prison. Second and subsequent offenses subject a defendant to five to 30 years in prison.

Obtaining Legal Assistance

If you are facing a charge relating to any unlawful sexual conduct, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area as soon as possible. A lawyer can evaluate the strength of the prosecution's case against you and help develop any defenses that might apply to the unique circumstances of your case. A knowledgeable attorney can also advise you on how the law will apply to your set of facts.

(Ga. Code §§ 16-6-1, -2, -5.1, -22.1, -22.2; 17-10-4; 24-4-412; 42-1-12 (2021); Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 U.S. 407 (2008).)

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