Are you looking to explore your legal options after you or a loved one has become the victim of a sexual crime? You may be looking for answers to common questions like:
- How long will the person responsible be sent to prison?
- What are our legal options if there's no arrest or conviction?
- Can third parties be held liable for enabling sexual abuse?
- Do we need to talk to a victims' rights lawyer?
Our Mississippi sexual abuse victims' lawyers are here to help you understand your legal options during this troubling time.
Anyone who commits sexual abuse or enables the perpetrators of these crimes must be held accountable in a court of law.
"Thank you." They gave us more than legal guidance - they were there to support us emotionally too.
In the United States, sexual assault laws vary from state to state. Some states have comprehensive statutes which help prosecute all types of offenses involving unwanted sexual contact. Others have laws which are outdated and fail to account for the wide range of sexually violating acts. Mississippi falls into the second category. It’s only one of two states without criminal statutes for offenses like unwanted touching or fondling.
In Mississippi, these types of offenses are classified as misdemeanor assaults, rather than sexual offenses. Because of these outdated laws, many victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse in Mississippi fail to find justice through criminal courts. Victims of unwanted sexual contact often fail to report the crime because of law enforcement’s inadequate handling of the situation.
Fortunately for victims, the civil court system offers a form of alternative justice. A sexual assault lawsuit can help hold offenders and third parties who could have prevented the crime liable for the harm they’ve caused. Victims can also recover financial support for the variety of damages they suffer after surviving a sexual assault.
Our Mississippi sexual abuse victims lawyers help survivors of these crimes assert their right to justice through civil sexual abuse lawsuits.
Mississippi Sexual Crime Statutes
If you or a loved one has recently become a victim, you may be wondering how the offender will be punished. Looking over Mississippi’s sexual assault laws can give you an idea of what sentence the offender may face if your case falls under one of these statutes. However, because of the complex nature of sexual offenses and the fact that these laws may change soon, you should speak with an experienced Mississippi sexual assault victims lawyer if you want to gain a better understanding of how the criminal prosecution of your case may be handled.
Sexual Offenses With Child Victims
In Mississippi, there are several criminal statutes which apply to sexual offenses committed against children.
Sexual Battery Or Fondling Of A Child
This law prohibits people in positions of authority over children from sexually penetrating a child. This includes teachers, ministers, priests, counselors, doctors, parents, stepparents, legal guardians, relatives, and caretakers. A person is guilty of sexual battery or fondling of a child if they engage n sexual penetration or any other type of sexual contact with a child. This felony offense is punishable by 2-30 years in prison for a first conviction and up to 40 years for a second conviction, with fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
A person can be charged with child enticement if he or she maliciously, willfully, or fraudulently leads, takes, carries away, decoys, or entices away any child under 14 years old with the intent to keep the child away from their parents or for the purpose of prostitution, sexual abuse, or marriage. This crime is punishable by up to ten years in state prison and/or a fine up to $1,000.
Someone is guilty of child exploitation if he or she causes or permits a child to engage in sexually explicit behavior for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the behavior, including the use of computers, photography, videos, film, or any other medium. This law also applies to offenders who send, receive, or transport sexually explicit images involving children and those who attempt to convince a child to meet in person for the purpose of engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
On a first offense, child exploitation is punishable by 5-40 years in prison and a fine between $50,000-$500,000. On subsequent offenses, this felony is punishable by 20 years to life in prison and a fine between $100,000-$1,000,000.
Condoning Child Abuse
In Mississippi, it’s a crime for anyone living in a household with a child to knowingly condone an incident of child abuse, including sexual abuse. This misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine up to $1,000.
Carnal Knowledge Of A Child
This law is used to prosecute adults who have sex with their unmarried stepchildren or adopted children who are older than 14 but younger than 18 years old. This offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Sexual Involvement Of School Employee/Duty To Report
If a school employee is accused of fondling or engaging in any type of sexual contact with a child under 18 years old, the principal and the superintendent of the school are legally required to report the alleged crime to the district attorney in the jurisdiction where the school is located. They also must report the incident to the Department of Education and the Department of Human Services.
If a principal or superintendent is notified of an alleged case of sexual abuse and fails to report it, he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000. Those who fail to report can also be subject to liability in civil court, while those who file reports are protected from civil liability.
Adultery And Fornication Between Teacher And Pupil
It’s illegal for any teacher and any student under 18 years old, not married to each other, to have sex with each other. The teacher can face 3-6 months in prison and up to a $500 fine for violating this statute.
Disseminating Sexual Material To Children; Computer Luring
Anyone who provides sexually explicit material to someone under 18 years of age is guilty of disseminating sexual material to children. This crime is punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a fine between $500-$5,000.
Computer luring charges apply when an offender uses a computer to transmit sexual material to children or to invite a child to engage in sexual intercourse or any type of sexual contact. This crime is a felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
General Sexual Crime Statutes
In Mississippi, there are only three laws which are used to prosecute sexual offenses:
A person is guilty of rape (called “assault with attempt to ravish” in the criminal statutes) in Mississippi if he or she forces another person to have sex against their will or has sex with someone who has been given an intoxicant which prevents them from properly consenting to the act. This felony is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.
A person can be charged with statutory rape if he or she is 17 years or older and has sexual intercourse with a child who:
- Is at least 14 but under 16 years of age
- Is at least 3 years younger than the person; and
- Is not the person’s spouse
A person can also be charged with statutory rape if he or she engages in sexual intercourse with a child who:
- Is under 14 years old
- Is at least 2 years younger than the person; and
- Is not the person’s spouse
Sentences for statutory rape range from 5 years to life in prison, and/or a fine between $5,000-$10,000.
The following offenses are prosecuted as sexual battery:
- A person engages in sexual penetration with a child who is at least 14 and under 16 years old, and the person is at least 3 years older than the child
- Sexual penetration with a child under 14 years old who is at least two years younger than the offender
- An authority figure (teachers, counselors, physicians, psychiatrists, religious clergy, parent, guardian, etc.) engaging in sexual penetration with a child under 18 years old
The penalty for sexual battery varies depending on the circumstances of the crime, and range anywhere from 5 years to life in prison with fines between $5,000-$10,000.