Federal Criminal Defense – Sexual Battery – New Jersey District

Sexual battery is a crime where you force someone to commit sexual acts against their will through violence or threats. All states have laws against sexual battery, and sometimes, the crime falls under federal jurisdiction.

It's important to understand how the U.S. government defines sexual battery and how prosecutors can pursue charges against you if you were arrested or are under investigation by federal authorities.

You also need to consult an experienced federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible for a comprehensive review of your case, advice regarding your rights and options, and help with creating an effective defense.

What Is Federal Sexual Battery?

Federal law uses the term aggravated sexual abuse to refer to sexual battery. Sexual abuse is non-consensual, unwanted, or inappropriate sexual conduct, contact, or behavior, and the crime becomes aggravated due to factors such as:

  • You forced the person to commit the sex act against their will.
  • You physically assaulted them, causing serious bodily harm or death.
  • You threatened them so that they legitimately feared you would injure, kill, or kidnap them.
  • You rendered them unconscious to sexually assault them.
  • You gave them drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicants to make them incapable of understanding their situation or defending themselves against the assault.

Incidentally, Title 10 U.S.C. § 920, Art. 120 defines the government's laws regarding rape and sexual assault as they apply to personnel and uniformed members of the U.S. Armed Forces. The term “rape” in the statute follows the same elements of aggravated sexual abuse outlined above, and military servicemembers accused of rape can face prosecution in both civilian and military courts.

Inappropriate sexual contact refers to any penetration, no matter how slight, of the penis, vulva, anus, or mouth that does not have a legitimate medical, hygienic, or law enforcement purpose.

What Makes Sexual Battery a Federal Offense?

Sexual battery, or aggravated sexual abuse, falls under federal jurisdiction if any of the following apply:

  • The crime occurs across state lines or international boundaries.
  • The crime occurs on federal property or within the special maritime jurisdiction of the United States.
  • The crime occurs in a federal prison or official U.S. detention center against a person in federal custody.
  • The crime affects interstate or foreign commerce.
  • The crime was against an officer or employee of the U.S. government.

Additionally, you can face federal charges for aggravated sexual abuse if you cross state lines to engage in sex with anyone under 12 years old, or with a child between 12 and 16 and you are four or more years older than the child. The government does not have to prove you did not know the child was under 12.

Related Offenses

Depending on the nature of the crime, you can also face charges for other sex-related crimes, such as:

  • Child sexual assault and rape
  • Sexual abuse or a minor, ward, or inmate
  • Sexual exploitation of a minor
  • Abusive sexual contact
  • Offenses resulting in death

Other related crimes include forceful oral copulation, female genital mutilation, the purchase or sale of a child for sexual purposes, and human trafficking. You can also face additional charges if you are a repeat offender.

Federal Sexual Battery Penalties

Virtually all federal sex crimes carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence along with fines. How much prison time you will receive will depend largely on the nature and severity of the crime, but you could get a life sentence.

Aggravated sexual abuse against children typically carries the harshest sentences, and you can receive up to 30 years to life in prison. Also, you can receive life in prison or even the death penalty if you seriously injure or kill anyone during the crime.

In some cases, penalties for federal sex crimes also include restitution you will have to pay to the victim, and you can face prosecution by the state where you live or any state in which the crime occurred. Another serious consequence of a sexual battery conviction is that you will have to register as a sex offender.

Sex Offender Registry

In addition to prison, fines, probation, and possible restitution, you will also have to register as a sex offender with the National Sex Offender Registration, your state government, and any other state where the crime occurred. Registering as a sex offender is mandatory for those convicted of federal sex crimes, and the government categorizes sex crimes into three tiers, depending on the seriousness of the crime.

  • Tier I – You must register as a sex offender for 15 years.
  • Tier II - You must register as a sex offender for 25 years.
  • Tier III - You must register as a sex offender for life.

Also, being on the sex offender registry will greatly impact your life, including where you can live, work, and go to school, and even whether you can go to a public park.

Federal Sexual Assault Defenses

Considering the potential impact on your life and future, you want to evaluate all your defense options and build the strongest case possible against the charges.

The facts and circumstances of your case are vitally important in preparing your defense, and your attorney may identify viable options after reviewing your case. Some effective defense options against federal sexual battery can include:

  • Consent – The person gave you permission to engage in the sex act.
  • False accusations – Someone falsely accused you of committing the crime.
  • Duress – Someone forced you to commit the crime.
  • Entrapment – The victim or law enforcement “tricked” you into committing the crime.

Additionally, the evidence may not support you were involved in the crime at all, or federal authorities could have infringed upon your constitutional rights or made mistakes throughout the judicial process.

In any event, prosecutors will have to convince the jury of your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so you will need an attorney to challenge the evidence, refute the government's allegations, and fight for your rights and future.

Hire an Experienced Federal Defense Attorney

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully defended many clients in New Jersey District Court against sexual battery and other federal charges, and he can review your case and advise you of your options.

Call the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team at 888-535-3686 or fill out our contact form to request a confidential consultation.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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