Sex Offenses

Lebanon Sex Offense Attorneys

Understanding Sexual Battery Laws in Tennessee

Sexual battery (or sexual assault) is illegal in Tennessee and punished as a felony. Note that the law aims to protect strangers, acquaintances, and married people equally, so there is no exception or defense to prosecution for assault or rape that occurs within a marriage.

In Tennessee, sexual battery refers to sexual contact (intentional touching of any party's intimate parts or clothing covering them, if touching for sexual arousal or gratification) with another person by force, coercion, fraud, or without the other person’s able consent.

The offense rises to aggravated sexual battery if:

  • it causes bodily injury to the other person;
  • the defendant carried a weapon during the offense or was aided by one or more other people; or
  • the alleged victim was younger than 13 years old at the time of the offense.

Sex offenses are highly complex and a continually changing area of the law that requires an attorney who understands the laws of the sex offense registry and the recent updates to state and federal statutes. Legislation makes hundreds if not thousands of proposals to change Tennessee law every year and many of them are targeted at sex offense sentencing, evidentiary, or registry requirements. We have created a detailed sex offense chart that breaks down the various offenses and possible punishments, which we can examine as we work through your related case and craft a strong defense against your charge.

Comprehensive Guide to Rape and Statutory Rape in Tennessee

Rape occurs when a defendant forces another person to have unwanted sexual penetration. Note that whereas sexual battery involves unwanted sexual contact, rape requires penetration, however slight. However, like battery, rape also includes circumstances when the victim is mentally incapable of giving consent to sex (e.g., being in a coma, having passed out from drug or alcohol use) and fraud. The offense is considered aggravated rape if it causes bodily injury to the victim, or if the defendant carried a weapon during the offense or was aided by one or more other people.

Statutory rape is the sexual penetration of a person classified as one of the following:

  • Mitigated Statutory Rape – a 15-17-year-old victim and a defendant at least 4-5 years older.
  • Statutory Rape – a 13- or 14-year-old victim and a defendant 4-10 years older or a 15-17-year-old victim and defendant 5-10 years older.
  • Aggravated Statutory Rape – an alleged victim 13-17 years old and a defendant 10 years older.
  • Statutory Rape by an Authority Figure – a victim 13-17 years old and a defendant at least 4 years older, and the defendant had a position of trust, supervision, or discipline by legal, professional, or occupational status, or had parental or custodial authority over the child and used their status to have sex with them.
  • Rape of a Child – a victim 4-12 years old.
  • Aggravated Rape of a Child – a victim 3 years old or younger.

Penalties for Sex Crimes in Tennessee: What to Expect

Sexual battery and rape are felonies, and the applicable fines and prison term depend on the circumstances of the crime. Sexual battery is generally a Class E felony, which carries a fine of up to $3,000 and/or 1-6 years in prison. Aggravated sexual battery and rape are more serious Class B felonies, penalized by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or 8-30 years in prison. Aggravated rape is charged as a Class A felony punishable by up to $50,000 in fines and/or 15-60 years in prison, and the aggravated rape of a child will result in up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Be aware that almost all sex offenders must register with the national sex offender registry which seriously impacts where convicted individuals can live, where they can work, and even what their neighbors, friends, and family may think of them. Registered individuals may also need to check in regularly with the local police for several years to the rest of their life as a precaution.

Strategic Defense Against Sex Crime Charges

Many possible defenses could apply to a rape or sexual battery case. For instance, for sexual activities between two adults, the defendant could prove that the other person did consent and that there was no force used during the sexual act. An argument for innocence can also be proven by an alibi showing the defendant couldn't possibly have been the person who committed the act, or they could argue insanity based on the claim that the defendant is mentally ill and did not have the capacity to control their behavior, form criminal intent, or understand that what they were doing were unlawful.

Attorney Donnavon Vasek has represented many people throughout Middle Tennessee charged with sex offenses ranging from sexual battery to sexual contact with a minor to sexual battery by an authority figure to statutory rape to rape of a child, among many other sexual offenses. In our experience, sex offenses and domestic assault are the two offenses most commonly investigated or charged that are predicated on false allegations. The root of the issue is that when charged with a sex offense, bond conditions are issued to stay away from that person and directly impact any child custody arrangements that have been made or ordered by the judge.

If you are being investigated for a sex offense, do not wait until charged to contact an experienced and skilled defense attorney. Contacting an attorney immediately can make the difference between whether you will be charged or not. We represent individuals accused of sex offenses in the Lebanon, TN area and many other communities across Middle Tennessee. If you are facing sex-related accusations, contact our firm today to discuss your defense options and what we need do immediately to proactively defend you.

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