Sexual contact is an element in some sexual assault crimes. In this article, we’ll define the term “sexual contact” and explain how it relates to the law.
- Sexual contact is often defined as the intentional touching of the intimate parts of another person directly or through clothing
- There are laws in different states against certain types of sexual contact such as sexual contact with children or sexual contact with a person that the accused is in a position of power over
- The severity and penalty of sexual contact crimes vary from state to state
What Is Sexual Contact?
While every institution and jurisdiction may have its own definition of sexual contact, a common interpretation is the intentional touching of the intimate parts, or genitalia, groin, inner thigh, buttocks, anus, or breast, of another person directly or through clothing. Sometimes it is also specified that the touch must be for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, degradation, harassment, or assault. In some jurisdictions, it is also sexual contact to use force to cause another individual to touch their own intimate parts.
Sexual Contact and Sexual Assault Law
There are many different laws in various states outlawing sexual contact in a variety of situations. Some of these include:
- Sexual contact with children
- Sexual contact with minors by a person in a position of trust
- Sexual contact with an individual without their consent
- Sexual contact with a person who the accused has power over
Situations in which the offender has power over the victim may include:
- Teachers or school administrators engaging in sexual contact with a student at the educational institution where they work
- Employees or agents engaging in sexual contact with a person under probation or parole at the court where they work
- Officers engaging in sexual contact with a person detained by the law enforcement agency where they work
- Healthcare providers and employees engaging in sexual contact with a patient at the healthcare facility where they work
- Officers engaging in sexual contact with a person in custody of the correctional facility where they work
- Therapists engaging in sexual contact with a therapy client
- Foster parents engaging in sexual contact with their foster children
The severity and penalty of crimes involving sexual contact vary depending on the nature of the crime.
The following crimes may be classified as felonies:
- The victim is under 16 years of age
- The act physically injures the victim
- The act involves force, threat, or intimidation
- The crime is a repeat instance of a misdemeanor offense
The exact definition of these crimes, their severity, and the minimum and maximum penalties associated with them vary from state to state. If you have been accused of a crime involving sexual contact, it is recommended that you consult with an experienced sexual assault attorney. They will be able to clarify the applicable laws in your jurisdiction and work with you to build a defense.