If you or someone you love is the survivor of sexual assault or child sexual abuse, you may be wondering about how your family can find justice through the legal system:
- Will the sexual offender be arrested and convicted?
- Can others who enabled the sexual abuse be held liable?
- What damages can we recover in a sexual abuse lawsuit?
- How do civil lawsuits differ from criminal prosecution?
Our Missouri sexual abuse victims' lawyers specialize in helping survivors find answers, support, and justice.
Our team of sexual abuse victims' lawyers fight against sexual predators and the people who enable them in civil court.
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For victims and families affected by sexual crimes, seeing their offender prosecuted and convicted can provide a sense of justice. While nothing can take back the trauma experienced by these victims, it can be reassuring to know that the predator responsible for the crime has been taken off the streets.
Sexual Assault & Child Abuse Laws In Missouri
If you’ve recently suffered as the victim of a sexual crime in Missouri, you may be wondering how the state’s sex crime laws may affect your offender’s sentence. We’ve summarized the main sexual assault and sexual abuse laws in Missouri below as a reference for victims in your situation.
However, be aware that these laws can change and that it may be difficult to determine which laws apply to your case on your own. This is why we advise victims to discuss their legal options with one of our experienced Missouri sexual assault lawyers.
Remember that while the criminal justice system fills a necessary need for prosecuting sexual predators, these courts often do little for the victims of these crimes. From St. Louis and Springfield to Columbia and Kansas City, our lawyers help sexual abuse and assault survivors get the financial support and justice they deserve by filing lawsuits in civil court.
These lawsuits demand accountability both from the offenders themselves and also from third parties who could have prevented the assault if it weren’t for some form of negligence. To find out more about how you can secure justice through civil court, get in touch with our Missouri sexual abuse lawyers today for a free consultation.
Missouri Statutes For Prosecuting Child Sex Offenders
Missouri has several laws and statutes which are used to prosecute sexual predators who victimize children:
Sexual predators who molest children can be prosecuted under one of four degrees of child molestation:
Someone is guilty of first-degree child molestation if he or she subjects a child under 14 years of age to sexual contact and the offense is considered an aggravated sexual offense. This crime is a Class A felony punishable by either 10-30 years or life in prison. If the victim was under 12 years of age, the sentence will be served without the possibility of probation, parole, or conditional release.
Second-degree child molestation charges apply in cases where the offender:
- Subjects a child younger than 12 years old to sexual contact, or;
- Is over 4 years older than a child younger than 17 years old, subjects the child to sexual contact, and the offense is considered an aggravated sexual offense.
Child molestation in the second degree is a Class B felony punishable by 5-15 years in prison.
If the victim of the child molestation was younger than 14 years of age, then the offender will be charged in the third degree – a Class C felony punishable by up to 7 years in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000.
An offender will be charged with child molestation in the fourth degree if he or she is at least four years older than the victim and the victim is less than 17 years of age.
Sexual Misconduct Involving A Child
A person can be charged with sexual misconduct involving a child if he or she knowingly engages in any of the following behaviors:
- Exposes his or her genitals to a child under 15 years of age in circumstances where the person knows the exposure will cause affront or alarm to the child
- Exposes his or her genitals to a child under 15 years of age in order to arouse the sexual desires of any person
- Coerces or induces a child younger than 15 to expose his or her genitals or the breasts of a female child for either of the reasons mentioned above
This offense is a Class E felony.
Sexual Contact With A Student
The following people are legally prohibited from having sexual contact with any student in a K-12 public or private school:
- Teachers and student teachers
- Employees of the school
- Volunteers of the school or an organization working with the school
- Elected or appointed officials of the school district
- A person employed by an entity that has contracts for services with the school or school district
Sexual contact with a student is a Class E felony.
Enticement Of A Child
A person can be convicted for enticement of a child if he or she is at least 21 years of age and persuades, solicits, entices, or lures a child through words, actions, or the Internet for the purpose of participating in sexual contact. This felony is punishable by 5-30 years in prison.
General Sexual Crime Statutes In Missouri
In Missouri, there is an extensive set of laws which are used to prosecute sex offenders who commit crimes against adults. In some cases, some of these laws also may apply when the victim is a minor.
Aggravated Sexual Offenses
Any sexual offense can be considered aggravated if any of the following circumstances apply to the crime:
- The victim suffered a serious injury
- The offender displayed a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument in a threatening manner
- There were multiple offenders
- The offender has a prior conviction for a crime of child sexual abuse
- The offense occurred as part of an act or series of acts performed by two or more people as an established pattern or activity
- The offender is related to the victim by blood or adoption
Charges for aggravated sexual offenses involve harsher penalties.
Persistent And Predatory Sexual Offenders
Missouri has special penalties for defendants who are deemed persistent or predatory sexual offenders. This rule applies in cases where an offender has been found guilty of any of the following sexual offenses and has a previous conviction for any of the offenses on this list:
- Statutory rape or statutory sodomy in the first degree
- Rape or sodomy in the first degree
- Forcible rape
- Forcible sodomy
Persistent and predatory sexual offenders will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In Missouri, sexual penetration without consent can be considered rape in either the first or second degree:
A person is guilty of rape in the first degree if he or she engages in sexual intercourse with someone who’s incapacitated or incapable of consent (including intoxicants like alcohol and date rape drugs) or through the use of force.
Rape in the first degree is a Class A felony punishable by either 10-30 years or life in prison, depending on the circumstances of the crime. Rapes which involve the use of weapons, serious physical injuries, and child or elderly victims receive harsher sentences.
Second-degree rape charges apply in cases where the perpetrator has sexual intercourse with another person without the other person’s consent, but without the specific circumstances described in first-degree rape.
Missouri has outlawed sexual intercourse between adults and children who are under the state’s age of consent.
Statutory rape can be charged in the first degree if the perpetrator is 18 years of age or older and has sex with a victim under 14 years old. This felony is punishable by either a 5-year sentence or life in prison, depending on circumstances. If the offense is considered aggravated or the victim is younger than 12, the minimum sentence will be 10 years and the maximum life in prison.
A person is guilty of second-degree statutory rape if he or she is 21 years of age or older and has sex with a victim between 14-16 years old. This Class D felony is punishable by up to 4 years in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000.
Sodomy statutes apply to sexual crimes which involve oral or anal sex or the penetration of a victim using a finger or object. These charges are also applied in either the first or second degree:
A person is guilty of sodomy in the first degree if they engage in any of the sexual conduct described above when the victim is incapacitated, incapable of consent, or when the sexual contact occurs through the use of force. This felony is punishable by anywhere from 5 years to life in prison, depending on the specifics of the case. If the offense is classified as an aggravated sexual offense, the minimum sentence will be 10 years. Sentences are also longer for repeat offenders or when the victim is younger than 12 years old.
Any act of sodomy which occurs without the victim’s consent and also without any of the circumstances covered under first-degree sexual assault will be charged in the second degree. This crime is a Class D felony.
Sexual abuse involves sexual contact which falls short of penetration and can also be charged in the first or second degree. The same circumstances described under rape and sodomy apply when determining which degree the charge will be. The only difference is that the sexual contact involves acts like unwanted touching or fondling, rather than penetration.
Sexual misconduct can be charged in either the first or second degree:
A person is guilty of sexual misconduct in the first degree if he or she:
- Exposes his or her genitals in circumstances where he or she knows the act is likely to offend or alarm someone else
- Has sexual contact in the presence of a third person or persons in circumstances where the act is likely to offend or alarm
- Has sexual intercourse or other sexual contact in a public place in the presence of a third person
First-degree sexual misconduct is a Class B misdemeanor (up to 6 months in prison), but in cases where the offender has a previous record of sex offenses, it will be upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor (up to one year in prison).
Someone can be charged with second-degree sexual misconduct for soliciting or requesting another person to participate in sexual conduct under circumstances which the person should know would cause affront or alarm. This is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail.
Sexual Conduct With Prisoner Or Offender
Missouri law prohibits employees of jails, prisons, and correctional facilities from engaging in sexual conduct with prisoners or offenders who are incarcerated in jails, prisons, or correctional facilities. Probation and parole officers are also prohibited from having sexual contact with offenders who are under their supervision.
This crime is a Class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison.
Sexual Conduct With A Nursing Facility Resident Or A Vulnerable Person
In Missouri, it’s illegal for the owner or employee of a nursing facility or Alzheimer’s special care unit or program to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a resident in one of these facilities, units, or program.
This law also prohibits people who work for or with a certified program operated, funded, licensed, or certified by the department of health from having sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a vulnerable person in one of these programs.
On first offenses, this crime is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine up to $1,000. Subsequent offenses are Class E felonies punishable by up to 4 years.