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What Are the Penalties for Sexual Assault in Tennessee?

 Posted on March 25,2021 in Criminal Defense

Blount County sexual assault defense lawyerThere are many different ways that non-consensual sexual acts can be charged under Tennessee law. Some of the most common crimes are rape and sexual battery. Cases involving aggravating factors, such as brandishing a weapon to rape or committing assault against a child, carry much more severe punishments. Even if a child or a teenager claims to consent to a sexual act, it may still be considered illegal in the state of Tennessee. This is generally classified as statutory rape. If an unmarried female who is under the age of 18 is pregnant, and the presumed father of the child is more than four years older than her, an attending physician is expected to tell the authorities about the situation with the patient’s (or her parents’) consent. In some cases, however, a person may be charged with sexual assault based on false allegations. 

Understanding How Sex Crimes Are Defined in Tennessee

Rape is defined as sexual penetration of a victim using force or coercion (such as threatening violence or kidnapping) or without the victim’s consent when the defendant is aware of the lack of consent. It can also be charged when the defendant knows the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated. 

The offense of sexual battery is sexual contact (intentionally touching another person’s intimate parts, even with clothing on, for sexual gratification or arousal) using force, coercion, or without the victim’s consent, or in situations where the defendant knows the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated. A person may also be charged with sexual battery if an act of sexual contact was accomplished by fraud.

Below are the felony classes for sexual assault crimes in Tennessee: 

  • Aggravated Rape: Class A felony with 15-60 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.

  • Rape, Aggravated Sexual Battery: Class B felony with 8-30 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

  • Statutory Rape or Sexual Battery by an Authority Figure: Class C felony with 3-15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

  • Aggravated Statutory Rape: Class D felony with 2-12 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

  • Sexual Battery, Statutory Rape: Class E felony with one to six years in prison and up to $3,000 in fines.

The majority of convicted sex offenders are required to register on the National Sex Offender Registry. This can negatively affect their future employment and their ability to secure housing, as well as personal relationships with family and friends. Possible defenses to sexual assault charges may involve proving or showing that the other person did consent and that there was no force when the act was committed. An alibi can also prove that the accused could not have been the person who committed the offense if the suspect was in another location at the time of the alleged crime. In addition, a mental disorder or condition could mean that a defendant did not understand the sexual act was illegal.

Contact a Knoxville, TN Criminal Defense Attorney

All sex crimes carry significant penalties in Tennessee. If you are facing these types of charges, a skilled Knox County criminal defense lawyer is crucial to your case to determine whether the charges can be reduced or eliminated altogether. Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney is well-versed in Tennessee law, and he understands the implications of sexual assault charges. He will gather the necessary evidence to show that you have been wrongfully accused or that you did not commit the alleged crime. Call our office today at 865-281-1000 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help with your defense.


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