Sex Crimes

What Is Sexual Assault?

By
Michael Salnick
April 8, 2020

A sexual assault conviction carries not only potential imprisonment but substantial, rippling reputational effects.

A sexual assault conviction carries not only potential imprisonment but substantial, rippling reputational effects. Because the consequences of a sexual assault conviction are so severe, it’s vital to engage an advocate and partner in your corner. Our West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys are experienced in handling sex crimes cases throughout Florida, and our reputation is unmatched.

Sexual Assault By Definition

In Florida, what we tend to think of as sexual assault is defined as “sexual battery” in § 794.011 of the Florida Statutes. Engaging in non-consensual oral, anal, or vaginal contact with another person (using either a sexual organ or an object), is sexual assault.

Certain aggravating factors elevate garden-variety sexual assault cases to aggravated sexual battery. These factors include the following:

  • The victim is physically helpless to resist.
  • The offender coerces the victim to submit by threatening to use force or violence, and the victim reasonably believes the offender will be able to carry out such a threat.
  • The offender coerces the victim to submit by threatening retaliation, and the victim reasonably believes the offender will be able to carry out such a threat.
  • The offender administers, or knows that someone else has administered, a narcotic, anesthetic, or other intoxicating substance to the victim that incapacitates the victim.
  • The victim is mentally defective and the offender has reason to believe or knowledge of this.
  • The victim is physically incapacitated.
  • The offender is a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or probation officer, or is in a position of control or authority, or is acting in such a way as to lead the victim to reasonably believe that he is.

Penalties for Sexual Assault in Florida

Sexual battery is a felony in the state of Florida. The specific circumstances of each case, such as the age of the victim, the age of the accused, and whether a weapon was used, will determine what degree felony will be charged.

Capital punishment, the highest form of punishment, is reserved for offenders who are over the age of eighteen and whose victims are under the age of twelve. Florida does not execute offenders for sexual assault crimes, so the punishment for this crime is life in prison or at least forty years in prison.

Other sexual assaults are classified as first degree, second degree, or third degree felonies, depending on the circumstances. Offenders face up to thirty years, up to fifteen years, and up to five years in prison, respectively, for these offenses.

In addition to prison time and fines, sexual battery offenses can never be expunged from your criminal record in the state of Florida. Furthermore, anyone convicted of sexual battery is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, which can have lasting consequences on basics like a choice of home and employment. 

Compensation for Florida Sexual Assault Survivors

Separate from a criminal case, a victim has the right to file a sexual abuse claim in civil court. While this is an entirely different process from the criminal one, you should be aware that you can be held civilly liable for the offense and a victim can seek monetary compensation in civil court.

Experienced West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorneys

Salnick & Fuchs, P.A. has been representing individuals charged with sexual assault throughout Florida for more than two decades. If you have questions about your criminal charges, contact us today to speak with one of our experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys.


Michael Salnick

Michael Salnick is a criminal defense attorney who has been practicing state and federal criminal law for over 38 years and has become one of the most experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers in America.

Call us today at
561-379-9690 (24/7)