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  1. #1
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    Default What is the Legal Definition of Sexual Assault

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: United States Federal Law

    https://www.justice.gov/ovw/sexual-assault

    Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.
    Is that definition from Congress, or made up administratively?
    What is the jurisdiction of the definition? Does it apply to universities funded by the federal government?

    What is meant by explicit consent? I would interpret it to mean a person must ask for and get permission before every touch.
    Does "Falling under" mean this is a complete list, or possibly a partial list? Might kissing be included?
    What is included under "behavior?"
    Do two people who are dating each other or flirting with each other or who have been kissing need explicit permission to "fondle" each other? Fondling is pretty common in those situations. I don't think most people explicitly ask permission to fondle the other's buttox before doing so.

    I think this definition is overly broad in the first sentence, and needs clarification of the second sentence. But does this definition carry any weight ever? When?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What is the Significance of This Definition Posted by Us Department of Justice

    Quote Quoting MikeSmith321
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    Is that definition from Congress, or made up administratively?
    It is simply a general definition of the term, akin to a dictionary definition, basically.

    What matters in a criminal prosecution is the what actions the particular statute prohibits, and as most rape and sexual assault crimes are state offenses, the law that matters in most cases is state law. It is not the case, even with the DOJ definition, that explicit consent means the person must ask for and get verbal consent for every touch, unlike some college campus rules (including the college rule that got you worked up in that other thread.)

  3. #3
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    Default Re: What is the Significance of This Definition Posted by Us Department of Justice

    How do they get to just make up a definition? I'm pretty sure no state in the country says you must get explicit consent before every touch or else it is sexual assault.

    I never said it says you must get verbal consent. But just because it says non-verbal is OK, what counts as non-verbal consent for each act? Would a guy be asked how he got consent, or would the plaintiff be allowed to say, "I never gave consent, verbal or non-verbal"? In almost every welcome sexual interaction, people don't get consent first. They start doing stuff gradually, testing the waters, and the other person says no if they want. This definition looks to me like it is saying that is sexual assault.

    I the issue is not verbal versus non-verbal. It is that the person must get explicit consent before they make the touch. Testing the waters is sexual assault.


    Is that just advice to the states? Does it just apply to the military? Who else is under that definition? Or do they just make up whatever they feel like with no significance?

    Thanks.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What is the Significance of This Definition Posted by Us Department of Justice

    Have you ever used a dictionary? Does it bother you that somebody "made up" all of the definitions it contains?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: What is the Significance of This Definition Posted by Us Department of Justice

    If you want to know what constitutes a sexual assault in your state, check out your state's penal code. I am sure you can find the appropriate sections to cover fondling, penetration, rape, etc.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: What is the Significance of This Definition Posted by Us Department of Justice

    I want to know, what the significance is if the department of justice definition. Specifically where it applies. It closely resembles many university definitions, which makes me wonder if they are following "guidance". My schools Title 9 officer told me much of their policy is mandated by the violence against women act.

  7. #7

    Default Re: What is the Legal Definition of Sexual Assault

    Quote Quoting MikeSmith321
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    My question involves criminal law for the state of: United States Federal Law
    Quote Quoting MikeSmith321
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    I think this definition is overly broad in the first sentence, and needs clarification of the second sentence. But does this definition carry any weight ever? When?
    Probably, the US Code definition is less broader and more specific.
    Thus, 10 U.S. Code § 920 - Art. 120. Rape and sexual assault generally (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/920) stipulates a person is guilty of sexual assault if:
    1. (1) commits a sexual act upon another person by—
      (A) threatening or placing that other person in fear;
      (B) causing bodily harm to that other person;
      (C) making a fraudulent representation that the sexual act serves a professional purpose; or
      (D) inducing a belief by any artifice, pretense, or concealment that the person is another person;
    2. (2) commits a sexual act upon another person when the person knows or reasonably should know that the other person is asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that the sexual act is occurring; or
    3. (3) commits a sexual act upon another person when the other person is incapable of consenting to the sexual act due to—
      (A) impairment by any drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance, and that condition is known or reasonably should be known by the person; or
      (B) a mental disease or defect, or physical disability, and that condition is known or reasonably should be known by the person;


    If we conclude, a sexual act must take place. It must also take place while other person does not give his/her consent or under threat/fraud, etc.

    Now regarding your question about kissing. Lets have a look what "Sexual contact" means:
    (A) touching, or causing another person to touch, either directly or through the clothing, the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, or degrade any person; or
    (B) any touching, or causing another person to touch, either directly or through the clothing, any body part of any person, if done with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

    What is important, touching may be accomplished by any part of the body.

    Therefore, kissing if done with threat, while asleep, causing bodily harm, etc. (see above) falls under "any touching... if done with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire".

    Well, thats the statute. Scholars provide a big variety of sexual assault definitions: https://definedas.com/legal/sexual-assault - most of the definitions are related to unwanted sexual activity, while some understand it in a narrow way (penetration of vagina, mouth, or rectum), others in a broader way (any unwanted sexual activity or sexual activity that is obtained without consent).

    Probably one could dig into case law and check more on kissing to clarify.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: What is the Legal Definition of Sexual Assault

    Quote Quoting Totally Legal
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    Probably, the US Code definition is less broader and more specific.
    Thus, 10 U.S. Code § 920 - Art. 120. Rape and sexual assault generally
    For the benefit of others, that section is part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and applies only to acts committed by members of the military. Outside of the military, most rape offenses are going to be violations of state law, not federal law, and it will be the provisions of the the law of the particular state that will matter in most rape prosecutions.

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