Man in Handcuffs

How to Defend Against a Sexual Assault Charge

Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. July 25, 2019

As anyone who has ever been falsely accused of a sex crime can tell you, being charged with sexual assault doesn’t make you a monster. While there are so many real victims out there — victims who deserve justice and support — there are, unfortunately, those who choose to make sexual assault accusations for all the wrong reasons. Currently, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center estimates that between 2% and 10% of sexual assault accusations are in fact false.

If recent history is any indication, these are among the most common reasons someone may falsely accuse someone else of sexual assault:

  • Regret following a consensual sex act

  • Embarrassment or shame

  • Revenge or personal attack

  • Sabotage (for instance, during a child custody battle)

If you’re facing a sexual assault charge in western Pennsylvania, don’t wait to get the legal support you need. Contact my Pittsburgh-based criminal defense law firm, Allegheny Attorneys at Law, for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Pennsylvania’s Definition of Sexual Assault

Many sex crimes fall under the category of sexual assault. Generally speaking, though, Pennsylvania defines sexual assault as engagement in sexual intercourse without the consent of the victim. Below, you’ll find a list of closely related sex crimes, as well as how they’re typically charged and defined in Pennsylvania:





1st-Degree Felony

Forced (or threat-based) sex with a victim who is impaired, unconscious, unaware of the sex act, or otherwise unable to resist or deny intercourse

Statutory Sexual Assault

1st or 2nd-Degree Felony

Sex with someone you are not married to who is 16 years of age or younger and who is 4-10 years younger than you (2nd-degree) or 11+ years younger than you (1st-degree)

Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse (IDSI)

1st-Degree Felony

Defined almost identically to rape, IDSI accounts for penetration with a foreign object and sex with an animal in addition to acts covered by rape charges

Institutional Sexual Assault

3rd-Degree Felony

Sex between an institutional worker (e.g. State or juvenile detention faculty, prison guards, mental hospital workers, and youth development leaders) and their charges (e.g. patients, inmates, and detainees)

Aggravated Indecent Assault

2nd-Degree Felony

Unwanted sexual penetration performed for any reason that isn’t for legitimate medical, hygienic, or law enforcement purposes

Aggravated Indecent Assault of a Child

1st-Degree Felony

Aggravated indecent assault done to a child who is less than 13 years old

Sexual Abuse of Children

2nd or 3rd-Degree Felony

Possession of child pornography and/or filming, photographing, or otherwise depicting sex acts of a child (can be charged at the 3rd-degree level if it is a defendant’s first offense)

Sexual Exploitation of Children

2nd-Degree Felony

Procurement of a child (younger than 18 years old) for the purpose of another person’s sexual gratification

As with all laws, Pennsylvania’s penalties and regulations for sexual assault and related crimes are subject to change over time. The best way to ensure you have the right information is to consult with a knowledgeable, local criminal defense lawyer.

Defenses for Sexual Assault in West Haven, Pennsylvania

If you’ve been accused of sexual assault or a related sex crime, the absolute, number one most important thing you can do right now is consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Anything you say between now and then could hurt your case and land you in even more trouble. An attorney, on the other hand, will know how to effectively fight to get your charges reduced or possibly dismissed. Depending on the unique circumstances of your case, your attorney could present a number of arguments, such as:

  • Mistaken identity

  • Mistaken age(s)

  • No violence, threat, or forced was used

  • Legal insanity at the time of the sex act

  • Intoxication

  • Demonstrating that the accuser consented at the time of the sex act

If you’re facing a criminal charge in the West Haven area, contact Allegheny Attorneys at Law as soon as possible. Once I am more familiar with the details of your case, I can help you determine the best way to defend yourself and preserve your future. Reach out today to get started.